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

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
Kicking Horse Canyon Phase 4 closures announced

The first major closures are expected to occur starting on April 12 until May 14

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

One of the renovated VWs that has served as the inspiration for Wood's idea for a VW village to redefine camping. (Jeremiah Woods photo)
Golden entrpreneau walks away with a deal from Dragon’s Den

Camping in the Woods combines a love of the outdoors and for classic VW vehicles

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
More than 20 days have passed since the last case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Lakeside Manor. (File photo)
Salmon Arm retirement facility reopens social areas after COVID-19

More than 20 days have passed since last confirmed case at Lakeside Manor

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read