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Issue #41
April, 2013

Mishchet aen kishkayhtamihk nawut ki wiichiihtonaan: Bridging the Aboriginal Gap in Saskatchewan

Source: Eric Howe, Gabriel Dumont Institute

Summary: A three part Report

Part I of the report outlines lifetime earnings in Saskatchewan by level of education. There are Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal education gaps at all levels of education—high school, post-secondary non-university, and university. As one would expect, an increase in education increases lifetime earnings, regardless of race or gender; however, Howe’s report demonstrates that the financial rate of return for education is greater for Aboriginal peoples. Without an education, Aboriginal people earn dramatically less than non-Aboriginal people, but with an education, Aboriginal earnings increase more because they largely catch up with non- Aboriginal earnings. In addition, gender is significant: women have a higher financial return from education than men, and Aboriginal women more so, for the same reason.

Part II of the report outlines what it would take to bridge the Aboriginal education gap and asks the pertinent question, “How much is Saskatchewan’s economy wasting because of the Aboriginal education gap?” Howe shows the individual and social benefits of bridging that gap. Individual benefits are discussed in two broad categories: monetary (e.g., higher incomes) and nonmonetary (e.g., greater job satisfaction, improved health).

Part III of the report provides a summary of Parts I and II and then provides as an addendum with additional details on a macroeconomic analysis of “the first ever made-in-Saskatchewan boom.” Howe makes the compelling case that unlike past economic booms in Saskatchewan that have resulted from natural resources or technological innovation, improving Aboriginal education attainment will result in a made-in-Saskatchewan boom that will have greater permanence.

First Nation Financial Fitness: Your Guide for Getting Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

Source: Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of British Columbia

Summary: This handbook is a tool to help you help yourself by providing information, tools, and resources to help you make informed decisions about your relationship with money. Today, many Aboriginal people struggle with dependency and poverty. Some people are stuck in a “welfare” mindset and some work very hard to get out of poverty but can never get ahead. Others make a decent living but barely manage to get from one pay cheque to the next. The purpose of this handbook is to assist in developing the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make smart decisions about money, thereby achieving our financial goals.

Arctic Children and Youth Foundation: Playing to Strength

Source:This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program.

Summary: The Arctic Children and Youth Foundation (ACYF) facilitates and works with governments and other child-serving agencies to ensure that national or international initiatives are adapted to the conditions and culture of the Canadian Arctic for effective implementation and positive outcomes. Among other issues, it focuses on suicide and substance abuse prevention, conflict resolution to help youth to acquire leadership, mediation and negation skills, and enhanced capacity of technology and Arctic-based websites targeted towards youth. It is well-placed to address community social needs across the north.

Inuit youth remain at the extreme ends of every social statistic: low education attainment, low per-capita income, high rates of school drop-out, and high rates of incarceration. In 2006, 69% of Inuit children under age 15 lived in a two-parent family, compared to 82% of non-Aboriginal children living with both parents. Inuit youth suicide rates are 11 times higher than the national average.

The Playing to Strength project provides an intuitive, innovative solution to the disparities within the size of this demographic group, the magnitude of the challenges they face, and their level of influence over social development programs.

The collaborative focus of this project centers upon respectful consultation with youth about their perspectives on serious issues and solutions in their communities. This will permit youth, via a technology-based forum, to give voice to and contribute to meaningful discussion and problem-solving – despite geographic, climatic and transportation-related barriers. The technology and focus upon youth will also begin to address the innate cultural reticence in expressing dissenting opinion and personal needs.

The Arctic Children and Youth Foundation (ACYF) will engage youth across the Arctic in dialogue to identify and develop solutions to the most significant issues that they currently face. The engagement will capitalize upon the particular area of strength of Inuit youth and their parity with other young people – the use of internet technology and social networking tools.

ACYF will:

  • Establish an on-line forum through which Inuit youth will be encouraged and supported to discuss issues and participate in solution teams.
  • Hire and train forum facilitators from among the peer group of forum participants
  • Monitor and record discussions and innovative problem-solving sessions
  • Assist solution teams in developing and implementing one or more solutions
  • Establish the sustainability of the forum and solution teams
  • Evaluate and report on the project and key activities

The Impact of the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) Program on School Readiness Skills

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

Summary: The AHSUNC program is a national community-based program funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

In a study conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) during the 2010-2011 school year, the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) Program was found to have a positive impact on school readiness skills.

Skills were measured at the beginning and at the end of the school year and participants showed significant improvement in all three skill areas assessed: language, motor and academic skills.

Supporting First Nations Learners Transitioning to Post-Secondary Final Report

Source: Assembly of First Nations Education, Jurisdiction, and Governance

Summary: The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors affecting the success of First Nations learners in education in Canada and the types of initiatives required to support the successful transition of First Nations learners to post-secondary. A description of First Nations peoples and a brief overview of the historical context of education for First Nations in Canada will assist the reader in understanding the reality of First Nations communities and schools, and the impacts on First Nation learners. It is these experiences that prompt the design, development and delivery of specialized programs and services required to assist First Nations students with their transitions to post-secondary education.

A literature review reveals a multitude of supports that are currently available in Canada to assist First Nations learners with transitions and success in post-secondary education. The supports that exist begin “at home” and entail focussed efforts by First Nations communities, Indigenous institutions, mainstream post-secondary institutions and governments. The report reveals the extent of the needs and the types of supports that are required to foster learner success.

The examination of these factors reveal the need for a significant increased financial investment and continued concentrated efforts from educators, community, education institutions and government to ensure First Nations learners acquire the supports they need to successfully transition and succeed in post-secondary education.

Residential Schools: The Red Lake Story

Source: Virtual Museum Canada
Focus: Secondary Students

Summary: The history of Canada’s residential schools was a dark time in this country’s history, but one that needs to be understood to inspire healing and compassion.

“Residential Schools: The Red Lake Story” was created in the fall of 2006 as a physical exhibit to complement the national exhibition “Where are the Children? Healing the Legacy of Residential Schools.”

The information, archival photos and direct quotes focus on two residential schools: McIntosh Residential School near Vermillion Bay and Pelican Lake Residential School near Sioux Lookout. In their own words, survivors share their life experience before, during and after their time spent in Red Lake.

Aboriginal Perspectives

Source: University of Regina
Focus: Secondary Teachers

Summary: Curricula across Canada require teachers to include Aboriginal perspectives in their lessons. The richness and diversity of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples present challenges and opportunities for teachers in meeting this requirement. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples constitute Canada’s Aboriginal peoples and there are currently over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands in Canada. Canada’s First Nations represent at least ten language families, the Inuit languages form a separate language family, and the Métis have a unique mixed language. The Aboriginal peoples have many different cultural practices, traditions and beliefs.

The Aboriginal Perspectives web site contains information that will aid teachers in including Aboriginal perspectives in their lessons. We have used video material featuring aboriginal people as a base for constructing teaching resources and we invite teachers to use these resources. We also encourage teachers to use this video material to construct their own lessons.

Wilfred Laurier University- Faculty of Education Elementary/Secondary Lesson Plans and Activities

Source: Wilfred Laurier University, Ontario
Focus: K-12 Social Studies

Summary: This resource was created to provide instructional ideas in a ready-to-use lesson format for Kindergarten to Grade 12 Social Studies. Saskatchewan Learning’s initiative in web-based learning provided the impetus to extend this resource offering beyond the borders of the Regina Public School Division.

The lessons and activities are organized under 6 themes: Diversity (in general as well as the diversity among Indigenous peoples); Treaties; Governance; the Métis; Role Models; and Aboriginal Contributions to Society. Some of the themes, such as Role Models have a lesson theme within the concept theme. Role Models use different variations of posters as an activity in all its lessons; Métis lessons try to incorporate the creation of a quilt to illustrate the theme in each lesson. is a visually stunning audio narrated resource for learning about Indigenous knowledge and philosophy from five diverse First Nations in Canada.

National Museum of the American Indian: Lessons and activities

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