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Issue #112
March, 2019

School Attendance and Retention of Indigenous Students

Source: Issues Paper No. 1 produced for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse. Nola Purdie and Sarah Buckley

Summary: Engagement or participation in education is a key factor affecting the life chances of all Australians. It is particularly important for Indigenous Australians who have lower levels of educational attainment than non-Indigenous Australians.

  • Regular school attendance, important for achieving core skills, such as literacy and numeracy, and achieving adequate levels of education, is one of the key factors that is likely to reduce Indigenous disadvantage.
  • A combination of home, school and individual factors are involved in students’ absence from school, although the relative importance of the various causes is contested:
    • parents and students tend to stress school-related factors (for example, poor teaching and failure to engage students); educators tend to stress parental attitudes and the home environment (for example, poor parental attitudes to school).
  • The available data on attendance and retention are limited, though there is evidence that Year 7/8 to Year 12 school retention rates for Indigenous students have improved over the last 10 years (from 35% in 1999 to 45% in 2009).
  • The available data also show that the gap in school attendance and retention between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is large:
    • the proportion of students attending school is some 10 percentage points lower than non-Indigenous students and this gap increases as the level of schooling increases
    • the retention rate from Year 7/8 to Year 12 in 2009 was 45% for Indigenous students compared with 77% for non-Indigenous students.
  • This paper provides information on the different approaches that have been used to improve attendance and/or retention, including programs that:
    • directly address attendance and/or retention, for example through applying incentives or rewards for attendance or sanctions for non-attendance
    • indirectly address attendance and retention issues, for example through attempts to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes; improve teacher quality; develop culturally relevant curricular.



Third Progress Report on indigenous Education, Ministry of Education Ontario

Source: Ontario Ministry of Education

Summary: Strengthening Our Learning Journey is the Third Progress Report on the implementation of the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework (2007). The framework aims to support the well-being and achievement of Indigenous learners and increase all students’ knowledge and understanding of First Nation, Métis and Inuit histories, cultures, contributions and perspectives. The report highlights recent achievements and reflects ten years of collaboration with Indigenous partners, education partners, students, communities and families.

The Third Progress Report describes the strengthening of these relationships and concludes with a look at the journey ahead including next steps to refresh Ontario’s Indigenous Education Strategy to meet the evolving needs of Indigenous learners across the province.


A guide on how Urban high schools can increase Indigenous Graduation Rates: Reconciliation in Action: Creating a Learning Community for Indigenous Student Success

Source: EdCan Network CEA

Summary: A case study report on how one B.C. high school is mobilizing a whole-community approach to raise Indigenous graduation rates.

This case study report provides practical examples on how the Academy of Indigenous Studies has built lasting relationships with local First Nations communities – demonstrating how existing provincial course offerings can be leveraged to create a for-credit learning track that allows Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to learn about Indigenous cultures throughout their entire high school journeys.

This B.C.-based learning community model in Kelowna demonstrates how non-Indigenous educators can envelop students in a network of Indigenous teachers, adult advocates and the wider community to curtail Indigenous student dropout rates while immersing non-Indigenous students in Traditional Knowledge.
Non-Indigenous educators in urban high schools can leverage this step-by-step report to create their own unique programs in consultation and collaboration with local Indigenous communities.

Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools

Source: Facing History and Ourselves

Focus: Senior Students

Summary: Examine the Indian Residential Schools and their long-lasting effects on Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

Stolen Lives is a program that walks students and teachers through an examination of the devastating legacy of Indian Residential Schools. Students make the essential connection between the history of Canada and their world today.

Using Facing History’s results-driven methodology, students will:

  • Explore the spectrum of history and human behavior
  • Reflect on the choices they confront today in their own lives
  • Explore ways to engage students in meaningful reconciliation in response to the TRC’s Calls to Action

For Teachers: Consequences of Relocation

Source: CBC Digital Archives

Focus: Secondary History, Social Studies, Political Science

Summary: Purpose

To identify issues related to the relocation of Innu communities.

The Innu, whose name means “human being,” and their ancestors have lived in the eastern portion of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula for over 2000 years. More than 16,000 Innu live in 11 communities in Quebec and in the communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish in Labrador. The Natuashish Innu were relocated from Davis Inlet in 2002.

In this introductory activity, students will examine the effects of relocation on the Innu of Davis Inlet.

First Nations of the Northwest Coast: Kindergarten to Grade 12 Resources – Simon Fraser

Source: Simon Fraser University

Focus: K-12

Summary: First Nations of the Northwest Coast

Here you will find background information about the First Nations (FN) of the Northwest Coast. We suggest that you read the information below before teaching one of the attached lesson plans.
We also understand that teachers have a limited amount of time so it is our hope that this resource will be helpful in your First Nation studies unit. If you wish to learn more, please download this Additional Resources PDF.

These activities will be focusing on First Nations groups within British Columbia and more specifically the groups along the Northwest Coast.

Food supplementation for improving the physical and psychosocial health of socio-economically disadvantaged children aged three months to five years

Source: Cochrane Library

Summary: Background
Undernutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five each year. Furthermore, throughout the life cycle, undernutrition contributes to increased risk of infection, poor cognitive functioning, chronic disease, and mortality. It is thus important for decision‐makers to have evidence about the effectiveness of nutrition interventions for young children.


Primary objective

  • To assess the effectiveness of supplementary feeding interventions, alone or with co‐intervention, for improving the physical and psychosocial health of disadvantaged children aged three months to five years.

Secondary objectives

  • To assess the potential of such programmes to reduce socio‐economic inequalities in undernutrition.
  • To evaluate implementation and to understand how this may impact on outcomes.
  • To determine whether there are any adverse effects of supplementary feeding.

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