A critical discourse analysis of Manitoba’s K-8 social studies framework of outcomes

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Tarasiuk, Andriana
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Many provinces across Canada, including Manitoba, are undergoing reforms to their educational structures and systems. Included in these reforms is a mandate to introduce sweeping curricular changes which will impact which particular societal values are conveyed as well as the ways in which teachers will engage students with particular curricular content knowledge. Given the current Canadian context, it is crucial that proposed curricular reforms reflect the Calls to Action presented by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015), findings from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2016), as well as anti-racism education. It is with this context that I have conducted a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of Manitoba’s Kindergarten to Grade 8 Social Studies Framework of Outcomes (2003). The purpose is to illustrate the ways in which the social studies curriculum document can uphold, and legitimizes structures of settler colonialism, further marginalizing diverse populations in Manitoba schools. I also explored the ways in which the curriculum uses language to impose settler narratives by privileging Eurocentric perspectives and stories. Furthermore, through this analysis, I examined the ways in which the curriculum neglects to acknowledge ongoing acts of settler colonialism within the larger society of Manitoba. My findings illustrated how the language, narratives and discourses of the curriculum include the “othering” of Indigenous perspectives, upholding prairie settler narratives and futurity, justifying colonization, and promoting a colonial construct of citizenship. The analysis also conveyed the ways in which the omission of specific events, places, people, perspectives, and stories reflect the ways in which Canada is a colonizing entity. Suggestions for curricular revisions include a more inclusive approach to recruiting curriculum writers and to authentically include Indigenous perspectives and epistemologies within the text. It is also recommended that educators and educational leaders invest in opportunities to read and examine other curriculum documents through a critical lens and for professional development to focus specifically on truth and reconciliation.
Curriculum, Manitoba curriculum, Social Studies, Truth and Reconciliation, Critical discourse analysis