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Timiskaming District Secondary School
News Item

English Indigenous Studies Course Q&A

July 03, 2020

Copy of Copy of Grade 11 Indigenous Studies Course.png

English ​Indigenous Studies Course for All Grade 11 Students

Questions and Answers


District School Board Ontario North East (DSB1) is committed to providing all students with rich, authentic learning experiences to ensure that every student will have access to rigorous and relevant curricula that reflect Indigenous history, culture and perspectives.

On June 1, 2020, we sent a letter to families to share that starting in September 2020, all DSB1 Grade 11 students will be enrolling in English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices Grade 11, Workplace, College or University Preparation (NBE3 E,C or U).

We understand that our students and families may have some questions regarding this new requirement in DSB1.  We want to reassure you that this decision is anchored in our vision of empowering all students to achieve personal excellence.


Why is District School Board Ontario North East mandating this course?

DSB1 is committed to the 94 Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. 72 of these calls are about the important role of education in the work towards reconciliation in Canada. As a result, we are ensuring that all of our students are able to learn about Indigenous peoples' experiences and contributions locally and nationally.


Is this course recognized in post-secondary institutions?

The English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices Grade 11 course is recognized in post-secondary institutions as the Grade 11 English course in both the college and university pathway. 

No student, who has taken these courses, has been negatively impacted in terms of college or university acceptance.  In fact, several post-secondary institutions are implementing an Indigenous Studies requirement for graduation as part of their commitment to reconciliation.


Is this course a pre-requisite to the Grade 12 English course?

English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices Grade 11 is a pre-requisite for the Grade 12 English workplace (E), college (C), and university (U) pathway courses.

When students take this course, will they be prepared for Grade 12 English? 

The course has been designed as a pre-requisite for Grade 12 English. In the English curriculum for Grades 9 through 12, there are no mandated authors to be studied.  Teachers have always used a variety of authors and texts to teach their English classes.


Will students still have three substitutions for their 30 credits?

Since English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices Grade 11 is considered by the Ministry of Education as the Grade 11 English course, students still have the opportunity to have three substitutions for their 30 secondary school credits. 


Are there resources for the teachers offering this course?

All DSB1 schools have Indigenous texts in their school.  For example, in our Virtual Library contains several texts from Indigenous authors, which English teachers have been using over the past few years.  A large order was made in June 2020 to provide additional texts for teachers and students.   


What professional learning is available for teachers offering this course?

Our board is also committed to continuing to provide professional learning and support for teachers who teach Indigenous Studies courses.  We have created a detailed professional learning plan specific to this course offering, which includes four professional learning sessions with Kevin Lamoureux, Researcher and Professor at the University of Winnipeg, along with several Indigenous authors.

Support was already provided to educators during the 2019-2020 school year.  DSB1 has over 10 teachers who have experience in successfully teaching English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices Grade 11.


What consultation was done in making this decision?

Our Strategic Plan, informed by over 2,000 voices, is the foundation of all decisions made in DSB1.  Specially, in the 2019-2020 school year, one of our focus commitments is, "We utilize the leadership skills of the entire community by demonstrating pride in our diversity." 

 Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, DSB1 conducted consultation specific to this course offering with the following groups:

  • Indigenous People's Advisory Committee (IPAC)
  • Secondary Principals and Vice-Principals
  • Student Senate (student representatives from all DSB1 secondary schools)
  • Students who identify as Indigenous 
  • Board of Trustees


What funds were used to purchase Indigenous studies texts for English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices Grade 11?

In 2018, our Board of Trustees allocated $10 million from accumulated surplus to support our schools in the implementation of our Strategic Plan. Each year, the Board of Trustees approves a portion of these funds to support learning and teaching opportunities in DSB1.  In 2019-2020, the Board of Trustees approved the use of $100,000 to support the implementation of this course across all DSB1 secondary schools.


How are Indigenous Studies courses funded by the Ministry of Education?

The Ministry of Education provides funding for Indigenous Studies courses in addition to the student to teacher ratio of 23 students to 1 teacher funding. As a result, DSB1 receives more funding to offer a wider variety of courses in all pathways.


Are other school boards mandating this course?

Several English Public School Boards in Ontario have successfully made this change over the past few years. 


View the PDF Document here.