NWT ‘nowhere near’ a decision on school curriculum

The Northwest Territories is reviewing its use of the Alberta school curriculum but is “a ways away from making any sort of decision,” the territory’s education minister says.

Earlier this week, the CBC and NNSL reported that the territory has embarked on a routine review of its use of the Alberta curriculum, with the current five-year agreement set to expire later this year.

Switching to the curriculum of a province like British Columbia – whose curriculum is now used by the Yukon – would be one alternative.


Though the NWT does develop some aspects of its curriculum in-house, like its northern studies module, the territory relies on southern provinces for the bulk of the curriculum as the cost of developing one from scratch is considered prohibitive.

Given the opportunity by his father – Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson – to clarify the territory’s position in the legislature on Thursday, education minister RJ Simpson said no decision was imminent.

The earliest a new curriculum would be adopted is the fall of 2022, Minister Simpson said.

“We have not made a decision. We are nowhere near making a decision. We are in the very early stages of seeing what is out there,” the minister told colleagues.

“Alberta is renewing its curriculum now. BC has a modern curriculum. The Yukon uses that curriculum. There are other curriculum developments across Canada, and it’s incumbent upon us to ensure that whatever curriculum we use is right for the people of the Northwest Territories.


“As I said, Alberta is renewing their curriculum, so one way or another, we’re getting a new curriculum. We need to do our due diligence.”

Simpson said education bodies and Indigenous governments would have input before any final action is taken. A decision could be made this summer but would still take until 2022 to be rolled out.

Alberta was recently reported to be considering eliminating references to residential schools in at least parts of its proposed new curriculum. Other proposed revisions were also criticized by some experts.

NNSL quoted Beaufort Delta assistant superintendent Devin Roberts as saying BC’s curriculum was “great” compared to an Alberta approach that was “not very inclusive of Indigenous perspectives or Indigenous ways of life.”