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District Responding with Action to Harmful Exam Question in Online Class

The Superintendent of the Burnaby School District is taking action, after learning about a question used on an exam for an online Grade 9 Social Studies test.

The question asked students to explain how First Nations people benefitted from their relationships with European colonizers and said, “many took advantage” of those relationships.

Superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen:

“It is inappropriate and worse than that, this kind of question is harmful and could be trauma-inducing for Indigenous youth and damaging to meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. This is not the way we integrate Indigenous perspectives and worldviews into curriculum in the Burnaby School District. This does not represent our values or the true impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples. And yet it happened.”

The question was brought to the Superintendent’s attention on June 10 after one of the students taking the course alerted CBC News British Columbia.

Superintendent Niccoli-Moen:

“I am grateful to the student for raising this, recognizing how incredibly wrong this question is, and having the courage to do something about it. While the question should never have been on the exam, this is an opportunity for reflection and an important reminder that we must remain vigilant and reflective as we work to ground anti-racism work in Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.”

In her response to CBC, the Superintendent provided an immediate apology to the students who were exposed to this question, their families, our broader school community, and especially the Indigenous community.

“While I want people to know how deeply saddened and sorry I am that this question was put on a student exam, it is equally important to take it beyond words and take steps to prevent this from happening again.”

The District is moving swiftly to address this by:

  • Working with the school and reaching out to all students in the class to determine any additional care and supports that might be of benefit.
  • Working with administrators and staff to initiate a review of materials, while reinforcing use of appropriate learning resources.
  • Continuing to seek guidance from Elders and the Indigenous community, as we work alongside to ground anti-racism work in Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.
  • Reaching out to leadership in the consortium that developed the online course from which the question was taken. While the question on the exam was not the latest version, the District has concerns about the current material, which is a provincial resource for online learning.

See the full statement from the Superintendent provided to CBC News on June 10 below.

Read the story published by CBC News

Read the story published by the Burnaby Now

Posted June 11, 2021