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

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Last year’s session with the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at the Chemainus Legion Hall. (File photo by Don Bodger)
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP want public input

In-person forums not being held this year

Surf scooter at Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Sylvie Newey photo)
Surf’s up!

Surf scoter scours the waters off Chemainus for food

North Cowichan council held its first meeting of 2021 on Jan. 20.
Firearms Discharge Bylaw amendments put on the backburner

Forestry review still needs to be completed before staff makes a recommendation to council

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
B.C. teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

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

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read