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Regina Separate School Board Introduces Native Studies Course

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1988      p18  
The Regina Separate School Board (RSSB) is hoping to have a special social studies course in place as part of its regular Grade 10 course load by this fall, according to Gerry MacDonald, who's been teaching the course since it was introduced as a pilot project in the spring of last year.

The new course, dubbed Native Studies 10 (NS-10), is being taught at Miller High School, an inner city institution with a high enrollment of native students.

MacDonald says the RSSB has already approved the use of NS-10 for its schools in Regina and could implement a similar pilot course for Grade 11 if there is enough demand. He adds that the provincial education department is also considering a similar course for use in all Saskatchewan schools.

NS-10 was designed by a committee appointed by the provincial education department's curriculum development branch. The committee was comprised of people from the local Indian and Metis community.

"There was a very significant input from the indigenous people of Saskatchewan", MacDonald says. MacDonald, whose own education includes background in anthropology and sociology, says the course content is well enough developed that any sensitive teacher could teach it. The course is equally weighted with the regular History 10 course, a course based on feudal Europe, the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Industrial Revolution. He hopes NS-10, which is focussed on some of the cultural and historical aspects of Indian and Metis life, will be more appealing to a native student and provide "an impetus to stay in school".

The course is not meant just for native students though, it's open to all who are interested. In fact, most students taking NS-10 are not of native ancestry this year.

According to MacDonald, NS-10 instills a sense of pride and self worth in native students. "They see, while they are different, there is nothing wrong in those differences; there is nothing wrong in being able to say 'I am an Indian, I am Metis'," he says.

He also says the course addresses racism and negative attitudes towards Regina's native community.

"Anybody who takes this course will have a much better understanding of why many Indian people today find themselves in difficult circumstances, and a great, deal of that is based on their historical experiences," MacDonald points out.

NS-10 was implemented because of what had previously gone on in the education system. "There is so much evidence of how kids are alienated from the school process and from society".

MacDonald calls NS-10 a solid, rigorous, intellectual course that will suit students very well in post-secondary education.