Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)

B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

An Abbotsford mom with a First Nations background is enraged that her daughter received a school assignment to list five positive stories about residential schools.

Krista Macinnis told The Abbotsford News she found out about the assignment when her 11-year-old daughter, who is in Grade 6 at W.A. Fraser Middle School, came to her for help on Tuesday (Nov. 24) while she was making dinner.

“She said, ‘I’m supposed to write at least five positive stories or facts about the residential school from these three websites that my teacher has given me to look up the information from.’ And she had already gotten two things written down,” Macinnis said.

“And then I saw it, and I immediately began to cry and shake as I tried to gain my composure.”

Macinnis, who is of Cree and Blackfoot heritage and has participated in the Wet’suwet’en pipeline protests, said the next thing she did was give her daughter an eraser and tell her to get rid of her name and the answers she had already written.

She said her daughter told her that she had learned in class that residential schools were bad and that the worst thing that had happened was “they cut their hair.”

Macinnis said the students have been reading a book called Fatty Legs, a memoir about a young Inuvialuit girl’s two years at a religious residential school.

“The gist around it is that apparently there are Natives and Elders that came forward that said, ‘Hey, there is a positive side to residential schools, and we feel like these should be heard about and they should be seen.’

“As a First Nations person, I understand that we all have our own voice about the things that happened there. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this is something that should be taught in a classroom environment, when it’s not the true horrors and events of residential schools.”

RELATED: Multigenerational pain of residential schools lingers for many in B.C.

RELATED: Advisers suggest Alberta students not learn about residential schools before Grade 4

Macinnis said she explained to her daughter that children at residential schools were abused, ripped away from their families, hurt if they spoke their own language, and that some never made it out alive. She told her that some survivors were so wounded that they cannot speak about it.

She told her daughter that she did not agree with the homework assignment and that she felt it was wrong. Macinnis said her daughter agreed to support her mom in whatever she chose to do.

Macinnis posted a video about the issue on her social media accounts, and it has gone viral. She compared the assignment to asking someone to list five positive things about slavery or “Nazis and concentration camps.”

“There’s no positive to it … That’s like saying, ‘Well, some Jewish people learned to read when they were in concentration camps. Focus on that.’ ”

Macinnis said it’s not clear whether the assignment was the creation of the teacher or has been used in other classes. She contacted the school principal, who she commended for addressing the issue immediately and inviting her to come in for an apology from him and the teacher.

But Macinnis said she’s not sure that she’s ready for that.

“I feel like somebody does need to be held accountable for this beyond just an apology, because I feel like it’s kind of just echoing our whole situation in general. What happened to us (First Nations people) is downplayed and twisted and turned, and then the government thinks, ‘Oh, we can apologize and it will be OK.’”

Macinnis said she wants answers about how the assignment made it into a classroom.

School district superintendent Kevin Godden said in a written statement that “assignments like this are not acceptable.”

“As a school district, we are deeply committed to equity and inclusion … This incident is a disservice to the district’s commitment to truth and reconciliation,” he said, adding that the incident is “not a reflection of our very skilled and talented teacher workforce.”

“Our school principal has spoken with the parent directly to personally apologize. We are deeply sorry for any harm caused to the parents, students, families and the Indigenous community at large.”

Godden said the district is continuing to investigate the matter and no further details are available at this time.

RELATED: Residential-school survivors call on Ottawa and provinces for monuments



vhopes@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Abby SchoolsFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
Man arrested in West Kelowna for stealing police bait car

The suspect has been identified as Raymond Francis Thiffault of Kamloops, who already had an outstanding Canada-wide warrant.

Rose Valley Elementary School. (Contributed)
Central Okanagan School sees second COVID-19 exposure in two days

An exposure was identified at Rose Valley Elementary on April 12 and 13

(Natalia Cuevas-Huaico - Kelowna Capital News)
The Central Okanagan Food Bank said it has seen an increase in people who need help as the pandemic continues. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News/FILE)
Increase in families, seniors using Central Okanagan Food Bank as pandemic continues

Current restrictions have hit the Okanagan’s hospitality workers hard

Marylou Jensen. (Contributed)
Missing senior located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Marylou Jensen left her home in the 900-block of Grenfell Road on foot at 5 p.m. on Tuesday

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are looking for the rightful owners of two standup paddleboards seized in an investigation March 19, 2021. (RCMP)
Is this your SUP?: Vernon police

Two standup paddleboards seized by police to be returned

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Most Read