I was so pleased to read this news story today. The government of Alberta has acknowledged the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by announcing that it will invest $5.4 million over the next three years to ensure that all Alberta teachers have access to professional development training in First Nations, Metis and Inuit history and culture. This is a very insightful investment in the future of all Albertans, and indeed a courageous move, given the current state of the Alberta economy. The New Democratic Party is sure to face a good deal of opposition but I applaud their determination to effect positive change in the lives of all Albertans, and particularly in the lives of Aboriginal people.
As the news report states, this new initiative will complement the government of Alberta's "ambitious agenda" of reworking the Alberta curriculum over the next six years. Teams of experts and resources will be accessed from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in order to meet the goals of professional development for teachers. Their mandate will be to highlight resources and history from Alberta, which had the highest number of residential schools of any province. Often when these large inquiries or commissions begin, one wonders what the outcome will be. Certainly, people will be more aware of the history, but the question remains - what will we then do with that knowledge? Knowing the history and then using the lessons learned from that history to effect real change is so often the challenging part.
It would certainly have been the safer path, politically, for Alberta to let other provinces take the lead when implementing the Calls to Action. Certainly, it would have been seen as more "prudent," given the forecasts for economic recovery for this province. In the past, the "Alberta Advantage" was most often seen as a reference to the abundant supply of natural resources. However, with this initiative, I see the "Alberta Advantage" as the foresight demonstrated by our New Democratic Party - the true "Progressive" party of Alberta!