Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa is questioning the government on why they’re ‘clawing back’ reconciliation efforts with the Indigenous community.

During this week’s session of Question Period at Queen’s Park, Mamakwa, the NDP’s Indigenous and Treaty Relations Critic, questioned the Minister of Education on why staff were advised to remove connections between Indigenous and western science from elementary science classes.

“Ontario should be working with First Nations educators to add Indigenous science to the curriculum, not remove it in secret. Minister, why are you not responding to First Nation education organizations that want to work with you to develop this framework?,” asked Mamakwa.

Mamakwa is citing a Globe and Mail report that found just three weeks before the release of Ontario’s new science curriculum in March, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce allegedly directed staff to delete language that included having students analyze knowledge systems of various cultures.

The Ministry of Education responded to the report, saying they were focused on modernizing Ontario’s science curriculum from its previous 2007 iteration to prepare students for work in the skilled trades. The Anishinabek Nation and the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body quickly expressed their disappointment with the move.

In response to Mamakwa, Lecce says the Conservative government has added a number of mandatory learning courses with Indigenous perspectives to the curriculum, as well as mandatory learning about the true history of residential schools – something the previous Liberal government failed to do.

“On the contrary, we have enhanced the mandatory learning in the science curriculum in every single grade as part of our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous peoples. “We know there is more to do, and we are open to feedback to get this right.”

Ontario says those courses include a revised social studies curriculum in Grades 1 to 6, history and geography in Grades 7 and 8, and Canadian and World Studies for Grade 9’s and 10’s with Indigenous perspectives in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action #62 and #63.

Afterwards, Indigenous Affairs Minister and Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford spoke about the hard work the two ministries have done to support First Nation students across the province.

“No government has taken the steps that we have to ensure a strengthened Indigenous learning opportunity. For far too long, many of us learned about our history with words like colonization, war and conquer. Today, we’re talking about reconcili-action, ensuring Indigenous students have a fair shot at a great education and a prosperous community to live in.”

Rickford notes the province is making just shy of $24 million available to school boards to support First Nation, Metis and Inuit students, in addition to existing funding amounts.