Educational Resources

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Educational Resources

Incorporating Indigenous Cultures and Realities in STEM: A Primer

Source: The Conference Board of Canada

Summary: Document Highlights

When educators use a culturally responsive curriculum – one that bridges Indigenous ways of knowing with Western science – Indigenous students are more engaged and perform better.

In recent years, many organizations across Canada have established programs to help Indigenous learners get ahead in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. However, the effectiveness of these new initiatives is not well understood.

The inventory in Incorporating Indigenous Cultures and Realities in STEM lists more than a 100 different programs in Canada that specifically aim to help Indigenous learners succeed in STEM. These programs can be sorted into eight broad strategies for increasing Indigenous representation in STEM. Each strategy falls into one of three periods in the learner’s life course. Within each strategy, there are initiatives that attempt to address cultural difference.

Filling Canada’s Indigenous Skills Gap Would be an Economic Boom

Source: Policy Options. Max Skudra, Andrew Avgerinos, Karen E. McCallum

Summary: Gaps in Indigenous education and skills training harm Indigenous business and overall economic growth. Better data are needed to address the problem.

Turning 15 is an important milestone; it’s the age when a person becomes a potential member of the workforce. Over the course of 10 years (between 2016 and 2026), 350,000 Indigenous youth will turn 15. However, to get and keep good jobs, basic essential skills are needed. And many Indigenous youth and adults do not graduate high school, or they graduate without requisite essential literacy and numeracy skills.

There are many reasons for this, including:

  • the challenge of acquiring reliable internet in remote conditions;
  • the myriad corollary effects of growing up in households disproportionately impacted by poverty, and in households impacted by residential school syndrome.

More and more, literacy and numeracy skills are the foundation to up-skilling and meeting the demands of rapidly changing and increasingly digital workplaces. People missing these foundational skills are missing opportunities for competitive jobs. They face the threat of job disruption due to automation, being under-qualified to gain workforce entry, having skills and experience that is not transferable to the knowledge economy leaving them without the tools they need to adapt and succeed.

Indigenous Education Modules

Source: OISE – University of Toronto, Jean-Paul Restoule

Summary: This set of learning modules has been created to support and inspire educators and future teachers to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous perspectives and an appreciation of how Indigenous knowledge and worldviews can assist all learners in their educational journey. The goal of the modules is to provide an introductory grounding to key issues affecting Indigenous people in Canada as a foundation for further and deeper learning. The modules are meant to work well independent of one another (they are not sequential) but they are also complementary. Please feel free to share these resources and use them in your own work. You can assign them as required or supplementary material supporting your course that students review on their own or you can use them in the classroom. The modules include suggested activities for further application of the concepts. Everything is free and open source.

Voix d’ici

Source: Historica Canada

Sommaire: La série d’histoire orale « Voix d’ici » présente les récits des participants autochtones grâce à des entrevues. Leurs récits mettent en lumière des histoires de résilience et de résurgence qui ont souvent été mis de côté dans le curriculum et dans le cadre scolaire.

Observing Snow: Toward a Culturally Responsive Curriculum

Source: Alaska Native Knowledge Network

Focus: Secondary Students

Summary: Observing Snow is intended as a journey to bridge the gap between the old and new, the traditional and the scientific, Native and Western approaches to education. A generation of sharp young minds from Native communities are encountering substantial roadblocks when faced with the typical western school curriculum. Observing Snow is an attempt to teach basic core subjects, especially science, and listening and reading comprehension, using materials that make sense to the Alaska Native student. Snow is a natural choice. Everyone who lives in the interior subarctic has a personal and intimate knowledge of snow.

Small Number and the Abandoned Pit House

Source: Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Focus: Junior students

Summary: Small Number is a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief.  

It is summer time and Small Number visits his Grandpa who lives on their Nation’s traditional territory in a small village near the river.

For Small Number his Grandpa is the wisest man who has ever lived. Grandpa knows so many interesting stories and somehow they are often related to the mischief that Small Number has done or is planning to do.  

This afternoon, Grandpa is meeting with a group of elders and a visitor from a university. Every week they get together so that the visitor can record the stories that the elders tell in their mother tongue. Even though Small Number only understands a few words, he enjoys listening to his Grandpa when he speaks in the language of their people. “I’ll ask Grandpa to teach me all stories that he knows, so that one day I can tell them to my children and grandchildren,” thinks Small Number.

COVID-19 Resources for Indigenous Communities and Individuals

There are many helpful resources for Indigenous Peoples, with a focus on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities in Canada and Quebec (though some international and U.S. resources are included).

The following resources have been gathered by the Cultural and Indigenous Research in Counselling Psychology (CIRC) lab within the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill University.

Residential Schools – Métis Experience

Source: Walking Together : Education for Reconciliation – Alberta Teachers’ Association

Summary: How were the Métis people in Alberta impacted by the Indian residential school system?

The first church-run mission schools established in western Canada beginning in the 1860s were open to First Nations and Métis children. As a result, many Métis students in the communities of Fort Chipewyan, St Albert and Lesser Slave Lake did attend school. In 1879 the Government of Canada, as part of its strategy of First Nations assimilation into the Euro-Canadian culture, entered into a partnership with the Christian churches to establish government-funded, church-run residential schools for Indigenous children. While the federal government acknowledged its responsibility for educating First Nations children, its overall policy was that the provinces were responsible for Métis children.

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