Northwest Territories announces partnership for renewal of JK-12 school curriculum and assessments

News Releases

Yellowknife — December 16, 2021

Minister R.J. Simpson and British Columbia (BC) Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside are pleased to announce that the Northwest Territories (NWT) will partner with BC for the renewal of the Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 (JK-12) school curriculum and assessments. This decision is the result of extensive research, analysis, and more than 40 consultation and engagement sessions with Indigenous governments, education bodies, the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association (NWTTA) and educators.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) began research in 2019 to explore the curriculum of western Canadian provinces to determine which most aligned with 34 longstanding NWT education priorities. BC’s curriculum was very clearly the most aligned to the NWT, as it is one of the first in Canada to focus on competencies-based learning; is modernized to meet the needs of students in an ever-changing world; incorporates financial literacy; begins providing career education in the early grades; and offers applied design, skills and technologies curriculum that builds on students’ natural curiosity, inventiveness, and creativity. This all results in students being more prepared for the opportunities and challenges of life after high school.

Crucially, Indigenous worldviews, knowledge, and perspectives are integrated in all of BC’s curricula in a meaningful and intentional way, and are reflected in students’ mandatory learning outcomes. BC designed its curriculum and assessments to be flexible, which allows the NWT to adapt the curriculum to fit our territorial context and ensures that local Indigenous content can be integrated across the curriculum. This can even happen at the community level, by incorporating place, school and community ways of learning and doing.

The new curriculum will be implemented using a phased-in approach over several years. Key education partners, including Indigenous governments, the NWTTA, and education bodies, will play an active role in teacher training, and adapting classroom resources and large-scale student assessment tools.


“A modern curriculum that meets the needs of NWT learners is essential to providing the best education possible to all residents, which is why I’m excited to announce our partnership with British Columbia. British Columbia’s redesigned curriculum aims to personalize learning, making it more student-centered and flexible. With an emphasis on Indigenous knowledge, and a focus on literacy and numeracy skills, I am confident that this curriculum will benefit all of the NWT’s JK-12 students.”

- R.J. Simpson, N.W.T. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

“We are pleased to share B.C.’s world-class curriculum with students, families and staff in the Northwest Territories. First Peoples’ principles, histories and ways of knowing are woven throughout our curriculum, and it allows for hands-on and career-centred learning to create equity and opportunities for all students.”

-Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s Minister of Education

Quick facts

  • Foundational curriculum Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit, which weave Dene and Inuit core concepts, language and traditions into teachings in NWT classrooms, will remain in schools.
  • NWT-created curriculum, such as Our Languages, Northern Studies, Health and Wellness, Hunter Education and Junior Kindergarten/Kindergarten, will also remain in NWT schools.
  • The NWT is dedicated to upholding the commitments of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) through the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives, culture, and language in all curricula developed, adopted or adapted in the NWT.
  • BC has demonstrated a commitment to UNDRIP through the establishment of their Declaration Act in November 2019, making BC the first jurisdiction in Canada to formally adopt the internationally recognized standards of UNDRIP through legislation.

Related links


For media requests, please contact:

Briony Grabke

Manager, Public Affairs and Communications

Department of Education, Culture and Employment

Government of the Northwest Territories

(867) 767-9352 ext. 71073

B.C. Ministry of Education

Government Communications and Public Engagement