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NDP upset new Grade 3 social studies less focused on Ukraine; UCP says they're making it political


The Official Opposition is asking the province to reassess its decision to remove the study of Ukraine as a nation-state from the Grade 3 social studies curriculum in Alberta.

Under the current curriculum implemented in 2005, students learn in social studies about what life is like in other countries worldwide while specifically examining India, Tunisia, Peru, and Ukraine.

"(Students) will explore how people live in these communities, gaining an understanding of the global community and Canada's role within it," the Alberta Education social studies overview says.

The proposed draft curriculum for social studies prepared under the United Conservative Party-led government focuses on the arrival of European explorers to North America, the history of New France, how Indigenous practices shaped Canadian culture, and connections with Francophonie communities of today.

In Grade 4, the new curriculum draft says the history of varied ethnic settlers in Alberta would be taught, including Ukrainian, Chinese, Sikh, Hutterite and Black communities. 

In a letter Sarah Hoffman sent to the education minister on Thursday, the education critic "strongly" encouraged the minister to reverse the decision to remove the study of Ukraine from Grade 3 social studies.

"The people of Ukraine are fighting a war to defend their independence and distinct democratic nation," Hoffman wrote.

"Now more than ever, it is imperative that we continue to educate young Albertans about the distinct history and culture of Ukraine, and provide background vital to understanding later cultural modules, not just a context of Ukrainians through an Alberta perspective," she added.

Hoffman said using Ukraine as a case study to understand different communities across the globe is more powerful than simply discussing the influence Ukrainian-Albertan settlers had and continue to have.

"Students should learn about Ukrainian settlers and their cultural impact on Alberta, but it cannot replace teaching Ukraine as an independent nation within the curriculum."

According to the Alberta Education learning outcomes, instruction about those four countries helps students appreciate the differences and similarities among people and begin to understand global citizenship and how their actions may affect people elsewhere in the world. 


"It is extremely disheartening that the NDP is using the tragic events in Ukraine for their own political purposes," Adriana LaGrange said at a curriculum announcement.

The education minister added that the document in question is only a blueprint that includes a high-level overview of the areas of knowledge students would study.

"I want to be absolutely clear. In the new draft K-6 curriculum, Alberta students will continue to learn about the rich culture and history of Ukraine and about the contributions of Ukrainian people," LaGrange said.

"Specific details will be included when there is a new updated draft," she added.


Hoffman asked the premier to reverse course on the decision during Thursday's Question Period, saying she hoped the removal of Ukraine from Grade 3 social studies was simply a mistake.

"Keep the country of Ukraine in the social studies curriculum," Hoffman said in the Legislature on Thursday. "I strongly believe that we need to continue to educate young Albertans about Ukraine as an independent country with a rich, vibrant, and resolute history.

"To the premier, will you, please commit right here and right now to leaving the country of Ukraine in Grade 3 social studies," Hoffman asked Premier Jason Kenney.

The premier reiterated that the draft of the curriculum is only a scope and sequence document that is a "high-level" overview of topics covered.

"Of course, there will be content on Ukraine throughout the school curriculum," Kenney said. "Ukraine is, of course, an important country to be taught about just in general terms, but it is of particular importance to Alberta and the settlement of this province." 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski Top Stories

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