The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), has announced the implementation of a new graduation requirement.

This requirement will ensure all secondary students complete Indigenous-focused coursework before they can graduate from BC’s K-12 education system.

In 2019, BC redesigned the K-12 curriculum to implement and explore Indigenous worldviews, perspectives, cultures and histories across multiple grade levels in a range of subject areas.

While more than 90% of BC students graduated with more than the required number of credits (80) for a BC Dogwood Diploma, only about 5% completed any of the provincial Indigenous or First Peoples grades 10-12 courses.

This new Indigenous-focused course requirement is set to take effect in the 2023-2024 school year, and students who are currently in Grade 10 will be the first group to complete this new requirement.

“We are deeply committed to lasting and meaningful reconciliation in BC – guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while working co-operatively with Indigenous Peoples across the province to address the knowledge gaps in our K-12 curriculum,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.

“This new requirement will deepen students’ understanding of the experiences, cultures, histories and knowledges of Indigenous Peoples. This will help us to understand the truths of our shared history, while also building knowledge so all students feel a sense of responsibility for our collective future.”

Next week, the Ministry of Education will launch an online public engagement to gain feedback on the proposed approach to implementing the new requirement, including what related information and resources students, parents and schools may need.

The proposed model would allow students to meet the new requirement through a variety of existing and new course options.

BC is the first Canadian province/jurisdiction to implement this type of requirement as it was one of the actions identified in BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Draft Action Plan, as part of broader Indigenous-specific anti-racism and discrimination strategy for the K-12 system.

This will apply to all students in BC public, independent and offshore schools next year.