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Issue #57
August, 2014

Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education: A Literature Review with Recommendation

Source: Dr. Marie Battiste, Director, Apamuwek Institute

Summary: This paper responds to the Government of Canada’s working partnership with First Nations to improve the quality of Aboriginal life and education in Canada through the Education Renewal Initiative. It reviews the literature that discusses Indigenous knowledge and how it is handed down from generation to generation and it outlines for the National Working Group on Education and the Minister of Indian Affairs the educational framework and recommended steps required to improve and enhance First Nations educational outcomes.

Inspiring success: Building towards student achievement (First Nations and Métis Policy Framework)

Source: Saskatchewan Ministry of Education

Summary: This report refers to the First Nations and Métis Education Policy Framework, which intends to build capacity and achieve transformational change within the provincial education system with the goal of supporting significant improvement in student achievement for all learners. The report explains the issues and opportunities in the provincial context, which include a historical, a moral and economic imperative, as well as a demographic shift. The report also outlines the Foundational Understandings for First Nations and Métis Education, which include First Nations and Métis ways of knowing, Indigenous knowledge, the Conceptual Framework of the White Birch Tree combined with the Medicine Wheel, four goals and vision of the policy framework, and strategies for achieving framework goals.

Inuit Cultural Online Resource

Source: Inuit Cultural Online Resource
Focus: Secondary students and teachers

Summary: This site was created to provide a central location online to learn about Canadian Inuit culture. This site is designed to serve as a resource for Canadian school aged children and their teachers. Its purpose is to offer new and different ways of learning about Inuit culture and what it means to be Inuit.

We are very proud to share with you insights into what it means to be Inuit in Canada today. We will share some history about Inuit culture as well. For those who do not know who the Inuit people are, this is the ideal place to learn. Inuit were once referred to as Eskimo but the preferred term for some time is Inuit. Many Inuit found the term Eskimo inaccurate and offensive, and refer to themselves as Inuit.

Exploring this site you will find a wide variety of topics and interesting resources. You will be able to watch videos on how to make Bannock, a traditional Inuit bread, watch Inuit games, and so one. We have great links as well to further what is covered here, after all learning about Inuit culture is an ongoing process. We hope we can give you a great head start in learning more about a great rich vibrant culture.

Aboriginal Education in the Elementary Classroom

Source: Free The Children and the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative
Focus: Grades 1-8

Summary: The term Aboriginal refers to First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) populations in Canada. Each of these groups is unique in culture and traditions and they have a history spanning hundreds of years. Unfortunately, this history is also defined by disproportionate levels of incarceration, poverty, unemployment, school dropout rates, alcohol abuse, suicides, and domestic violence. However, these negative characteristics should not be taken at face value; rather, it is important to question how and why they came to be.

We at Free The Children believe that education and awareness are the first steps to bringing an end to issues facing our world. For this reason, this lesson was created to support educators and students explore this complex and integral part of Canada’s past, present and future. With this knowledge, we hope youth will spread awareness about FNMI issues throughout their schools and communities.

This lesson is organized into three parts: orientation, core and concluding activities followed by Blackline Masters (B.L.M.1 – B.L.M.3) and an assessment rubric (Appendix 1: Assessment Rubric for Student Work).

The Daily — Study: Select health indicators of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit, 2007 to 2010

Source: Statistics Canada

Summary: The release presents combined data from the 2007 to 2010 cycles of Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), featuring more than 30 health indicators. These include perceived health, smoking, second-hand smoke at home, regular access to a medical doctor, physical activity during leisure time, obesity, high blood pressure, drinking, fruit and vegetable consumption, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and life stress.

The CCHS is an ongoing survey that collects a wide range of information about the health status of Canadians, factors determining their health status and their use of health care services.

Residents of Indian reserves, health care institutions, some remote areas and full-time members of the Canadian Forces were excluded.

First Nations people living off reserve, Métis, and Inuit reported poorer health compared with non-Aboriginal people based on Canadian Community Health Survey data from 2007 to 2010.

The poorer self-reported health among First Nations people and Métis was partly a result of higher rates of chronic conditions. About 56% of First Nations and 55% of Métis reported being diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions, compared with 48% of non-Aboriginal people.

All three Aboriginal groups were more likely to report unhealthy behaviours, namely smoking and heavy drinking. Smoking rates among Aboriginal groups were more than twice as high as the non-Aboriginal population.

Aboriginal people were more likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke in the home. For example, 24% of Métis youth aged 12 to 24 were exposed to second-hand smoke in the home compared with 14% for non-Aboriginal youth.

All three Aboriginal groups had higher obesity rates: 26% for First Nations people and Inuit, and 22% for Métis. These compare with 16% for non-Aboriginal people.

Diabetes is one of many health issues related to obesity. First Nations people aged 45 and over had nearly twice the rate of diabetes compared with the non-Aboriginal population (19% versus 11%).

Household food insecurity occurs when food quality or quantity are compromised. Food insecurity was more common among the three Aboriginal groups, with the highest rate among Inuit at 27%, four times the proportion of 7% for non-Aboriginal people.

Math Catcher: Mathematics Through Aboriginal Storytelling

Source: Simon Fraser University BC
Focus: Elementary and secondary students

Summary: The Math Catcher: Mathematics Through Aboriginal Storytelling project includes the creation of a series of short animated films that accompany picture books, as well as the development of related activities that introduce math topics and techniques through stories that follow Aboriginal storytelling formats and contain elements of Aboriginal traditions and cultures. The animations and books currently have English and Aboriginal languages versions. The primary objective of the program is to promote mathematics among elementary and high school students, as well as members of the Aboriginal communities, both in urban settings and on reserves. This is to be done in a way that Aboriginal children see themselves and their culture connected with mathematics.

There are two further and equally important objectives. First, short films in Aboriginal languages play a double role by promoting both mathematics and the languages. Second, through the movies, the picture books, and the activities that are built around these resources, we use mathematics as a vehicle to promote Aboriginal traditions and cultures among non-Aboriginal young people.

The main purpose of the short films, which are 3-4 minutes in length, is to relate stories about the adventures of animated characters. The scenarios take place in Aboriginal cultural and physical environments. The resolution of a particular plot always requires some mathematical knowledge. Plots in our stories are a mixture of adventures and math puzzles with the aim of catching a viewer’s attention and interest (thus the title of our project). Each story closes with an open-ended question that should spark discussions and lead to further activities. The question at the end of each story is purposefully not answered in the story.

Supporting Healthy Communities through Arts Programs

SourceClosing the Gap Clearinghouse. Vicki-Ann Ware January 2014

Summary: The purpose of this paper is to review the available evidence of a range of arts programs in relation to their effects on supporting and building healthy communities. Healthy Communities refers to communities in which people have the physical and mental health and wellbeing needed to conduct their daily lives. This paper considers the role of the arts in supporting healthy communities. It should be read in conjunction with Resource Sheet no. 26, which explores the role of sporting and recreational programs in supporting health communities.

The literature indicates remarkably similar groups of benefits among arts, sports and recreation programs. Therefore, it is important that any new program considers integrating all three areas to cater for varying preferences of community members for any single type of activity.

This paper is based upon the synthesis of findings from over 30 studies, covering all geographic areas from inner city to remote regions, and all age ranges from preschool children to the elderly. Approximately two-thirds of these studies are Australian, with some international studies used to add depth. Approximately half the studies examined programs run in Indigenous communities in Australia and Indigenous communities in the United States, Canada and New Zealand, with additional evidence from other ethnic minority (that is, immigrant) and ethnic majority contexts.

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