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Issue #27
February, 2012

Aboriginal Education in Quebec: A Benchmarking Exercise

Source: C.D.Howe Institute – John D. Richards, Author

Summary: Quebec Aboriginal poverty is as severe as elsewhere in Canada. And in terms of education, Quebec Aboriginal outcomes are somewhat worse than comparable Canadian Aboriginal results, themselves a very low benchmark. This Commentary examines the relationship between these troubling benchmarks – education levels and employment earnings – for Quebec Aboriginals, comparing outcomes within the province’s various Aboriginal identity groups and with the rest of Canada.

While lively debates take place about how best to improve Aboriginal education, there is little disagreement on its priority as a goal. Holding constant the level of education, the employment rate is remarkably similar for the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population. The similarity holds in both Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Aboriginal educational results do not provide grounds for optimism – either in Quebec or in the rest of Canada. The overall Quebec Aboriginal dropout rate in the age 20-to-24 cohort is 43 percent, 28 points higher than for non-Aboriginals in Quebec, and three points higher than the Aboriginal dropout rate in the rest of Canada. Among the six provinces with more than 100,000 Aboriginals, Quebec ranks third in terms of incomplete high school: lower than Manitoba and Saskatchewan but higher than Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia. Within Quebec, median Aboriginal 2005 earnings were two-thirds that for non-Aboriginals; median Inuit were below three-fifths.

In contrast to the scarring policies of the past, the goal of education reform is not to eliminate Aboriginal cultures. On the other hand, primary/secondary education is about more than cultural transmission – its goal is to impart core competencies in reading, writing, mathematics and science, necessary knowledge if Aboriginal students are to enjoy a realistic choice as adults between participation in Canada’s urban industrial society or a rural, more collective style of life. The study makes six broad recommendations to improve educational outcomes with that goal in mind.

This Commentary begins with a description of the distribution of the Quebec Aboriginal population, in terms of Aboriginal identity groups, and area of residence (on- or off-reserve, rural or urban). It also summarizes census information on income and earnings. The second part uses data from the latest census, in 2006, to benchmark Quebec Aboriginal education outcomes and compares them to outcomes among non- Aboriginals in the province. This benchmarking looks at intergenerational trends among cohorts aged 25 and older and outcomes among young Aboriginals aged 20-24. The Commentary’s final part discusses policy implications of these findings.

Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) or Self-Determination Applied to Research: A Critical Analysis of Contemporary First Nations Research and Some Options for First Nations Communities

Source: Brian Schnarch First Nations Centre National Aboriginal Health Organization

Summary: The principles of ownership, control, access and possession (OCAP) crystallize themes long advocated by First Nations in Canada. Coined by the Steering Committee of the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey, the principles are discussed as an expression of self-determination in research. The key notions outlined in this paper relate to the collective ownership of group information; First Nations control over research and information; First Nations’ management of access to their data and physical possession of the data.

Following a critical review of colonial research practices and recent institutional efforts to improve ethics in Aboriginal research, this paper highlights policies and strategies adopted by First Nations organizations – approaches which offer a way out of the muddle of contemporary Aboriginal research and the ethical dilemmas that characterize it. The benefits of OCAP are described including the rebuilding of trust, improved research quality and relevance, decreased bias, meaningful capacity development, and community empowerment to make change.

Aboriginal Education: A Discussion Guide

Source: Catherine Abraham & Joyce Gram, authors
Focus: Parents and teachers

Summary: Improving education for Aboriginal children is a collective challenge facing all of us. Aboriginal students in public schools have a long history of lagging behind their non-Aboriginal peers. Despite effort and innovative programs, our schools have not yet succeeded in engaging these students to the point where they are graduating, or even staying in school, in acceptable numbers. In 2004, the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education published a research study entitled Sharing Our Success: Ten Case Studies in Aboriginal Schooling by Dr. David Bell. The project studied ten diverse schools in western Canada in which Aboriginal students were achieving academic success. In each of these schools, families and educators shared profound respect for each other and their respective roles, and dedication to the students they served. The schools studied were in rural and urban areas of B.C., the prairie provinces, and the Yukon. They included large and small elementary and secondary schools, and other grade combinations, with varying percentages of Aboriginal students. Some schools were band operated, others were under the authority of school districts, and one was under the Yukon Department of Education. In-depth research from each school revealed common factors leading to success.

This guide presents a brief overview of those factors and is intended to provide a glimpse of the common ground shared by successful schools. In addition to the 2004 study, we have included references from a 2007 study also conducted by SAEE entitled Sharing Our Success: More Case Studies in Aboriginal Schooling by George Fulford, which focused on ten schools in eastern Canada.

It is not expected that this guide will provide all the answers but rather to help parents and educators, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, begin to explore questions. Finding ways to bring learning to life for Aboriginal students has proven to be a complex task.

Bold Eagle

Source: Service Canada Delivered by: Department of National Defence (DND)

Summary: The Bold Eagle Program provides Aboriginal youth with summer employment that offers a combination of military training and First Nations cultural awareness.

Eligibility Information

Participants must meet the following criteria:

  • be at least 16 years of age
  • be a Canadian citizen
  • have obtained the consent of a parental or legal guardian, if under 18 years of age
  • have completed grade 10 or the equivalent
  • be Aboriginal
  • be physically fit
  • meet all Canadian Forces entry requirements
  • live in western Canada or northwestern Ontario

Application Information

  • Application forms are available through local Canadian Forces Recruiting Centres.
  • Completed applications must include a copy of the following documents:
    • a birth certificate
    • a signed high school transcript

Financial Information

  • The Program provides participants with transportation to and from Wainwright, Alberta, military equipment and clothing, meals and accommodation and a standard rate of pay for a private (recruit).

Contact Information

General Inquiries: 1-800-856-8488 1-800-856-8488

First Nations in Canada – INAC

Source: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Summary: First Nations in Canada is an educational resource designed for use by young Canadians; high school educators and students; Aboriginal communities; and anyone interested in First Nations history. Its aim is to help readers understand the significant developments affecting First Nations communities from the pre-Contact era (before the arrival of Europeans) up to the present day.

The text has two parts. The first-“Early First Nations”-presents a brief overview of the distinctive cultures of the six main geographic groups of early First Nations in Canada. This section looks at the principal differences in the six groups’ respective social organization, food resources, homes, modes of transportation, clothing, and spiritual beliefs and ceremonies.

The second part-“History of First Nations-Newcomer Relations”-traces the relationship between First Nations and newcomers to Canada from the very first encounter up to the government’s historic apology in June 2008 to all former students of Indian Residential Schools. In this apology, the Government of Canada expressed deep regret for the suffering individual students and their families experienced because of these schools. The government also acknowledged the harm that residential schools and assimilation policies had done to Aboriginal people’s cultures, languages and heritage.

Omàmiwininì Pimàdjwowin – The Algonquin Way Cultural Centre: Learning Centre for Teachers and Educators

Source: The Algonquin Way Cultural Centre
Focus: Elementary, Secondary & Community

Summary: The Omàmiwininì Pimàdjwowin mission is to revitalize, reintegrate, enhance and protect the cultural traditions, customs, practices, heritage, language and arts of the Algonquin Nation.

The site is full of interactive stories, activities, resources and e-books that can be used in elementary and secondary classrooms.

Gateway to Aboriginal Heritage: Virtual Museum Challenge

Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization
Focus: Grades 9-12; Quebec Secondary Cycle 2

Summary: Students learn to interpret objects that were made by aboriginal peoples in Canada, and learn about the history and cultures of Canada’s aboriginal peoples, by researching and selecting images of objects from the Canadian Museum of database, completing the Virtual Museum Challenge worksheet, and making a presentation of artifacts selected for an imaginary exhibition.

  • Virtual Museum Challenge – Lesson Plan (PDF 220k)
  • Virtual Museum Challenge – Worksheet (PDF 170k)

Database Information Package:

Gateway to Aboriginal Heritage: Discovering Objects

Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization
Focus – Grades 5-8, Quebec Elementary Cycle 3, Secondary Cycle 1

Summary: Students learn to interpret museum artifacts and learn about the history and culture of aboriginal peoples in Canada, by studying objects from the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s database, completing a Discovering Objects Activity Sheet, and making a presentation of artifacts.

  • Discovering Objects – Lesson Plan (PDF 295k)
  • Discovering Objects – Activity Sheet (PDF 130k)

Selected Artifacts Information Packages:

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