On behalf of BC's 41,000 public school teachers, I want to thank and honour the thousands of witnesses who testified to their residential school experiences and the abuses they suffered. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report urges all of us to acknowledge the profound toll this cultural genocide has taken on First Nations people and communities across Canada. As Canadians, we must all hear the Commission's call to action and support the recommendations.
As Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair has said recently, the misuse of our education system was at the roots of the injustice and so education must play a central role in reconciliation.
The BC Teachers' Federation fully supported the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work and ensured teachers had financial support to cover travel costs so they and their students could attend the TRC educational events in Vancouver.
Moving forward, the BCTF will do all we can to help reconciliation efforts in BC's public education system. We are firmly committed to supporting Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal teachers who continue the work of the Commission in classrooms across the province. Working together, we must begin building new relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people based on mutual understanding, respect, and collective action.
Our members are already working with the BC government on redesigning the provincial curriculum to incorporate additional Aboriginal content and perspectives across all grade levels, including teaching about the true history of residential schools. The BCTF has also been calling for a course on Aboriginal history and culture to be a requirement for all BC students to graduate.
As teachers, we see the power of education every day. We must use it now to acknowledge and commemorate the past, take action in the present, and make positive change for our future.