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The Prairie South School Division is issuing a heartfelt apology after a word search was given to students that included old, racist terminology for indigenous women.

Prairie South Director of Education Tony Baldwin says it was a terrible mistake.

"What happened is that the teacher wanted to have some fun activities connected to Thanksgiving. In a file folder somewhere in the school, existed this package that was 20 to 25 years old. The teacher made the mistake of not previewing the material, fired it through the photocopier, and was very shocked herself when she looked yesterday and realized exactly what she had copied."

Baldwin said the teacher was horrified and fully owned the mistake that was made, apologizing to the parents of her students that evening. He said he also made sure the worksheets all went into the garbage, “where they belong”.

A letter of apology is going to parents this week to explain the mishap and what's being done to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Here is the Prairie South School Division's press release:

Prairie South Schools Reacts to Inappropriate Materials

Prairie South School Division Director of Education Tony Baldwin acknowledged Tuesday that
students in a Moose Jaw school had received a handout that was inappropriate and offensive to
First Nations peoples. Baldwin indicated that the school division became aware of the material
early Tuesday morning, and that work to address the issue was underway. “I feel very badly
that this has happened, and offer my sincere apologies on behalf of Prairie South Schools,”
Baldwin said. “As a Treaty 4 person, I know the importance of providing accurate information
for students.”

Darran Teneycke, Superintendent of School Operations, explained that the handout in question
had been included in a package of materials with a Thanksgiving theme that the teacher had
made available to students who had completed other work prior to the Thanksgiving weekend.
He acknowledged that the materials should have been more carefully previewed by the
teacher. “When the teacher became aware of the contents of the handout, they were
horrified,” said Teneycke. “The materials in question were removed from the school
immediately and school staff will be providing information to parents by the end of the day.”

Baldwin noted that mistakes can provide the opportunity for improvement. “Call to Action 63
from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission directs our work, whether the mistake was
made many years ago or last week,” said Baldwin. “As a school division, we have been working
to continue the process of Reconciliation with our Treaty 4 partners; we didn’t do a very good
job of that last week, but we are committed to making it right, both now and in the future.”
Baldwin indicated that he would be following up personally with the teacher and school. “It is
important for me to provide support for a good teacher who made a serious error and, at the
same time, to make sure nothing like this happens again in the future,” said Baldwin.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action include direction for schools to build
student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect and to identify
teacher-training needs relating to Aboriginal education issues.

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