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

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Heavy flows of water pooled on Davis Road after a lead to a fire hydrant burst on Thursday Jan. 21. (Jim Tredwell photo)
Fire hydrant connection burst at Davis Road and Battie Drive

Crews worked well into the night on Thursday Jan. 21 to staunch the flow of water

A pedestrian was transported to hospital after being struck while crossing Roberts Street. (Cole Schisler photo)
Pedestrian struck crossing Roberts Street

The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with police

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy rushed to emergency 3 times after ingesting drugs in Vancouver Island public spaces

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Another staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at Nanaimo care home

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence employee is isolating, says Island Health

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

Most Read