New atlases for Alberta students offer a different view of Canadian history

Callie Hermanson
Lakeside Leader

The province is providing every Alberta junior high and high school with a copy of the Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. The initiative is to help bring First Nations, Métis and Inuit history and contributions to life in classrooms across the province. As part of the Alberta Government’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, students will learn about the history and legacy of residential schools and the history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada.

“We all have a part to play in reconciliation, and it is critical teachers have the resources they need to teach this important material in their classrooms,” says Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations.

Feehan says the atlas includes information on Indigenous communities, languages, education, treaties and lands, told through authentic Indigenous voices. It will serve as a powerful education tool as we move forward together along the path of reconciliation.

In Alberta, he says it is mandatory that current and future Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum includes student learning outcomes specific to First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and experiences, as well as content on the significance of residential schools and treaties. The four-volume print atlas set is accompanied by an interactive website and an educational app. Three of the books in the atlas cover First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and perspectives. The fourth focuses on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and residential schools.

“Education plays a pivotal role in revitalizing Indigenous languages and culture across the province,” says David Eggen, Minister of Education. He adds the atlases that will be provided to all junior and senior high schools are part of our government’s commitment to implement the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We know that our province’s eager and dedicated teachers will develop meaningful and authentic learning experiences for their students using this new tool.”

“This is such a valuable resource and teachers will appreciate having authentic Indigenous perspectives to help bring a greater understanding of reconciliation to our students,” says Elder Betty Letendre, Edmonton Catholic Schools. “It is my hope that students will share this important information with their families on the shared history of Indigenous Peoples in Alberta.”

“I am delighted that the Alberta government has supported this important program and is sharing the atlas with schools across the province,” says John Geiger, CEO, Royal Canadian Geographical Society, “I hope as more Canadians learn through the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, their understanding will nurture the reconciliation process with Indigenous Peoples.”

“I would like to commend the Government of Alberta, for their commitment to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to actions related to education,” says Marlene Poitras, Alberta Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations. “The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada is an important tool that provides Indigenous perspectives shared through maps, artwork, history, culture and more.”

The true history of her peoples has never been taught in schools, Poitras adds.

“We need to build more understanding between our cultures and it can start simply by a young child picking up the atlas. I believe that it is up to every person to get educated on Canada’s true history.

“The Metis Nation of Alberta is proud to be a part of this very exciting initiative,” says Audrey Poitras, President of the Metis Nation of Alberta. “I would like to commend Minister Feehan and the province for providing this very valuable resource to the public junior and senior high school teachers.”

Ministers and dignitaries visiting a school in Edmonton to announce that the Canadian Geographic Indigenous Peoples Atlas is being provided to junior and senior high schools across the province.

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