Understanding & learning to fight systemic racism with Competency 15

This morning the FNEC, in collaboration with the AFNQL and l’Institut Tshakapesh unveiled Competency 15 at a live press conference on their Facebook page (recording available here.)

Teacher Competency 15: Value and promote Indigenous knowledge, worldviews, cultures, and history

The publication of Competency 15 is part of a greater action plan against racism and discrimination and calls for “…the province of Quebec to fulfill its duty, and to integrate the recommendations issued by the Viens Commission, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls…” (Press release, November 24, 2020) It is unanimously supported by the Provincial Roundtable on the Educational Success of Indigenous Students.

It is a tool for teacher education that can be used in university and for ongoing professional development.

This morning, Chief John Martin of Gesgapegiag spoke about the important role of teachers in the education system and the direct impact on the dropout rates of Indigenous students when teachers are unaware of their cultures and ways of learning. He also spoke of Joyce Echaquan and her bravery as she spoke and showed the truth. He also spoke about the history of the Mi’kmaq people and how they assisted Europeans when they first came to these lands, a history we don’t learn about in school … yet. He is hopeful that Competency 15 can help to fill a void that currently exists in curriculum so that we can move towards a future where we can address systemic racism and recognize Indigenous knowledge and cultures as integral parts of learning.

Loretta Robinson from the FNEC spoke about her learning journey. She talked about the image from the Competency 15 document of two rivers flowing together. The rivers represent two world views on learning and knowing and all her life she had to choose which river to use:

  • Western view: A river that negates and ignores my culture
  • Indigenous view: A river that is based in my culture

In order to go to university, she said that she had to paddle in the river that negates and ignores her culture – in her own words, she had to colonize herself. Why, she asked, in 2020 can we not paddle in both rivers at the same time? That is what Competency 15 is, a chance to paddle alongside each other in the same river.

Marjolaine Tshernish, Director General of the Institut Tshakapesh spoke about how this competency is a tool for all teachers:

  • Teachers who will have Indigenous students or not
  • Teachers who will work in Indigenous communities or not

And that it will allow all teachers to integrate Indigenous ways of learning into their classrooms and produce culturally rich learning environments.

Reporter questions had to do with the MEQ response to Competency 15.

Denis Gros-Louis, Director General of the FNEC, answered that the MEQ is a member of the Provincial Roundtable on the Educational Success of Indigenous Students and so have known about this document for a few months now. It is up to the minister to decide how it is used (or not).

He said that he’s had many conversations with the minister and feels that he is open to it. He also noted that Quebec is a bit late compared to other provinces but that Competency 15 could help to speed up a change in culture and address systemic racism in schools.

Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, added that the spirit of the Action plan on racism and discrimination is to work on alliances across the population and Competency 15 is that effort in education. He stated many times that this work needs to start in the schools.

You can read the competency document below. Once you have read through it:

What do you think about Competency 15?

And given our current situation, where centres may be teaching in person, remotely, online, or in a hybrid approach…

What do you think about applying Competency 15 within these different settings?

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