Oct 26/98: Schools debating govt. Nisga'a material



The Vancouver Sun
October 26, 1998
Kelly Sinosky

[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]

Teachers in Surrey and White Rock will be told not to use the proposed Nisga'a Treaty materials in their classrooms for the time being. The board of school district 36 agreed unanimously Thursday night to seek more information on the material before approving it for Grades 4, 10, 11 and 12 social studies classrooms.

The board's five Surrey Electors Team trustees -- Heather Stilwell, Ken Hoffmann, Mary Polak, Gary Tymoschuk and Robert Pickering -- have said they don't want the materials used in schools. "They're trying to sell a political decision to children and that's inappropriate," Pickering said.

The material, to be sent out to schools in the next few weeks, is based on the unratified Nisga'a treaty and the history behind the treaty process. Use of the material is optional for school districts.

Trustee Jim Chisholm, who believes students would learn from the material, said he supported the board motion to "buy some time." "If this had been defeated, it would have been banned," he said. "I think we bought some time, that's all."

Education Minister Paul Ramsey said it would be regrettable if Surrey decided not to use the information, which he said has historical value. "I believe education works best when what's being discussed in the classroom has strong links to what's happening outside -- and what's happening in 1998 is a momentous, historical occasion."

Ramsey added the Surrey school board should read the material before condemning it. He added it would be developed according to ministry standards and would be "free of bias." He also pointed out that teachers would be free to balance the information with the views of treaty critics. "Never has so much been said about a package that nobody's ever seen," he said. "Maybe they won't like the material, but I'll do my best that they meet educational standards."

Carole James, president of the B.C. Public School Trustees Association, said other school boards are also taking a wait-and-see approach to the material.

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