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Issue #48
November, 2013

Report on Equality Rights of Aboriginal Peoples

Source: Canadian Human Rights Commission

Summary: This report describes the impact of persistent conditions of disadvantage on the daily lives of Aboriginal people across Canada. Drawn primarily from Statistics Canada surveys, the report compares Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across a spectrum of indicators, including education, employment, economic well-being, health, and housing. These comparisons confirm the persistence of barriers to equality of opportunity faced by Aboriginal people.

The report provides as comprehensive a statistical portrait as can be drawn from available data. Aboriginal people living off reserve are better represented in statistical surveys. On reserve, the gaps are significant. In some cases, data is simply not available.

The report shows that, compared to non -Aboriginal people, Aboriginal people living in Canada:

  • Have lower median after-tax income;
  • Are more likely to experience unemployment;
  • Are more likely to collect employment insurance and social assistance;
  • Are more likely to live in housing in need of major repairs;
  • Are more likely to experience physical, emotional or sexual abuse;
  • Are more likely to be victims of violent crimes; and
  • Are more likely to be incarcerated and less likely to be granted parole.

For decades, study after study has chronicled the social injustice faced by Aboriginal people, on and off reserve. This report adds to our understanding by providing an empirical reference point regarding the impacts of systemic discrimination on the equality rights of a group protected by Canadian human rights legislation and international conventions. It is hoped that this report will serve to inform the work of stakeholders and government departments seeking to address these issues.

Kihtwam – “Once Again” – Student Retention and Re-Entry Program

Source: Saskatchewan Education. Lead Researcher – Corrine Hoffman
Focus: Secondary teachers

Summary: The Partnership Committee consists of members from Beardy’s & Okemasis Willow Cree First Nation, Mistawasis First Nation, Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and the Prairie Spirit School Division.

Prairie Spirit School Division has outlined four Strategic Directions to guide the establishment of meaningful system goals throughout the division. Student Engagement and Satisfaction is one of the four Strategic Directions, which includes a focus on improved outcomes for First Nations and Métis students. The Partnership Committee has developed an initiative that formally addresses concerns within its school communities:

  • the learning needs of potential early school leavers in the middle years and secondary school
  • the learning needs of approximately 150 students who have dropped out of school within these communities
  • the need to work collaboratively to develop approaches to provide support services and programming that will re-engage youth who have left the system and will support students who are at risk of not completing school

The administrators and personnel of the Partnership schools, including Leask and Duck Lake within Prairie Spirit, have begun to develop a student retention and re-entry model – Kihtwam – which means ‘once again’.

Kihtwam Program Objectives

  • to address the issue of disengaged youth ages 14 – 21 years
  • to encourage “leavers” to complete their education – grade 12, adult 10/12, and/or GED
  • to ‘once again’ invite youth to engage in learning and retain them in the system through varied and adaptive learning opportunities to connect education to the world of work and trade training

The Emergency in Attawapiskat – CBC Current Affairs

Source: CBC News in Learning
Focus: Secondary Students

Summary:  This News in Review story examines the desperate situation facing the First Nations community of Attawapiskat, the federal government’s handling of it, and public reaction to the emergency.

Canadians are proud to describe their country as “the True North strong and free.” This conjures up a mental image of a magnificent, resource-rich land reaching all the way to the Arctic as far as the North Pole. But the media pictures coming out of Attawapiskat, a First Nations community located on James Bay were anything but magnificent when they began to appear in late 2011. Residents of Attawapiskat were shown preparing for winter in accommodation totally inadequate for any season. Many families were housed in tents, trailers, and plywood shacks—in some cases without running water, electricity, and indoor plumbing. And, primitive as most housing was, it was also overcrowded; in several cases one home was shared by more than one family.

The plight of the reserve’s residents only came to light when the band council declared a state of emergency, asking that inadequately housed residents be evacuated before winter set in. The band council saw its emergency declaration as a necessary measure to gain the attention of the federal government, and it worked—but not exactly as planned.

Indian Residential Schools – Historical Thinking

Source: The Historical Thinking Project
Focus: Grade 7

Summary: These series of lessons (5 x 60 minutes) explore the experiences of Aboriginal children within the Residential School system in Canada. To provide students with background knowledge about Residential Schools, a PowerPoint presentation is attached. Questions, activities and research projects are provided to stimulate thought on historical significance, evidence, and continuity and change in regards to this issue in Canada today. To engage these concepts students analyze primary and secondary source documents, including a touching, personal account of a former resident of one of the residential schools in Saskatchewan.

Say it First – online dictionary

Source: SayITFirst Inc.
Focus: Elementary/ Secondary and Community

Summary:  SayITFirst Inc. incorporated in 2009 for the sole purpose of using technology and community participation to Modernize, Expand, Revitalize and Localize (MERL) Aboriginal languages in Canada, and to help FNMI communities produce more language speakers tomorrow, than exist today. The methodology applied is simple – help children and those interested in reclaiming their language to use technology to scale the access, to collectively harness the vast knowledge contained by all people into one location for use in the school systems. The idea is simply to create tools, used by the education system, parents and communities to reach a level of 20 hours per week for a three year period to achieve an acceptable level of fluency in the Native language.
This project currently services the Maliseet, Mi’Kmaw, and Ojibwe language groups, working closely with FNEII, Three Nations and the Rainy River District First Nations. SayITFirst also sits on the New Brunswick Department of Education’s Steering Committee for its 21st Century Schools strategy.

Parenting in the Early Years: effectiveness of parenting support programs for Indigenous families

Source: Closing the Gap Clearinghouse Australian Government

Summary: Programs that focus on supporting parenting in the early years aim to influence the behaviours of children, parents or families in order to reduce the risk or ameliorate the effect of less than optimal social and physical environments.

Families play a critical role in their children’s development and learning. A large body of research provides strong evidence that parents and the home environment are the most influential forces in shaping children’s early learning. The responsiveness of parents to their children, and the manner in which parents talk with and teach their children are important determinants of children’s later wellbeing and development (Landry et al. 2001; Osofsky & Thompson 2000).

This paper focuses on two types of parenting support programs:

  • parenting programs – short-term interventions aimed at helping parents improve their relationship with their child(ren)
  • home visiting programs – which include various programs, supports and services delivered to the family by a person visiting the home.

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