The Learning First Peoples Initiative is a joint venture of the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the First Nations Schools Association (FNSA), with the support of the British Columbia Ministry of Education, and was borne out of the First Nations education jurisdiction agreements reached in B.C. Under this initiative, the two organizations have worked over the past several years to develop curriculum and teaching resources to be used within the British Columbia school system. These materials have been designed for use by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and educators.
All curriculum, resources and assessments produced thus far follow the “First Peoples Principles of Learning”, a set of beliefs and values surrounding education that have been drafted by the organizations and affirmed by First Nations within the province. The principles support the “First Peoples Pedagogy”, which is infused within all the resources produced in order to allow for B.C. students to explore the worldviews and ways of learning of First Peoples (First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and Indigenous peoples around the world), through a special focus on things like experiential learning, oral texts, self-awareness, and a support for alternative teaching and presentation styles. A major goal of the Learning First Peoples initiative is to help make all B.C. classrooms more cognizant of First Peoples’ realities, and reflective of their worldviews and ways of knowing, both in British Columbia and worldwide.
Resources and curriculum have been produced to support teachers and their students at all grade levels. Resources include the “BC First Peoples Learning Resources: Books for Use in K-7 Classrooms”, a tool to help elementary school teachers determine appropriate resources to use when teaching their students by identifying authentic texts that can be used to meet fulfillments within current curriculum. Along with this, a series of units have also been developed called “In Our Own Words: Bringing Authentic First Peoples Content to the K-3 Classroom”, which help to guide teachers in their incorporation of these texts. For high school students, both an English First Peoples (EFP) and a Math First Peoples curriculum have been developed. The FNESC Learning First Peoples brochure reads that the “English First Peoples (EFP) curriculum offers students of all backgrounds the opportunity to explore First Peoples’ worldviews through literature”. The goal of the math curriculum is both to improve the comfort and success rates of all students (particularly Aboriginal students) in this subject area, as well as to shed light upon the significance of mathematics within all human cultures.
Currently, teaching materials are being developed and evaluated for grade levels 5, 10, 11 and 12 on the subject of Residential Schools and Reconciliation. A blog has been developed to make public the progress of the development of these resources.