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Issue #69
August, 2015

Engaging and Empowering Aboriginal Youth: A toolkit for service providers

Source: Claire V. Crooks, Debbie Chiodo, CAMH Centre for Prevention Science and The University of Western Ontario, Darren Thomas, New Orators Youth Project and Wilfred Laurier University
Focus: Educators and Community Resource Workers

Summary: How do you make programs more appropriate and relevant for Aboriginal youth? This toolkit grew out of conversations that a number of us in the field of violence prevention and youth programming have had about this topic. We were all in agreement that programs cannot be one-size-fits-all, and that most mainstream programs do not adequately match the unique needs and strengths of Aboriginal youth. However, there was little agreement about how to undertake this process. Furthermore, we were unable to find literature to guide us in the adaptation process.

This toolkit is our attempt to provide such a guide for front-line service providers, facilitators, educators, community partners and researchers. We hope that individuals from all of these groups will find something in this manual to help them improve their work with Aboriginal youth.

Relevant Research Pan-Canadian Approach to Harmonized Aboriginal Data Collections

Source: Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC) Statistics Canada
Focus: Teachers and Administrators

Summary: Most provinces and territories collect data about their Aboriginal students, but those data-collection systems have been developed independently and use different definitions and collection approaches. This means that information about Aboriginal students in one jurisdiction cannot be compared with information from another jurisdiction, and no pan-Canadian picture can be presented.

At the moment, the only data that allow comparable information to be reported for all provinces and territories are from Statistics Canada surveys. These data provide some information relating to education, such as educational attainment, but do not cover a range of important educational indicators such as elementary-secondary and post-secondary enrollment, graduation rates, or academic achievement. Attainment data, which cover the adult population, also tell us more about how Aboriginal students have fared in the past than how their needs are being served today.

In order to have pan-Canadian data about Aboriginal students, provinces and territories have agreed to adopt a harmonized approach to Aboriginal self-identification. The objective is to ensure that each jurisdiction can collect and report data that are:

  • comprehensive (i.e., every student in a public education institution is given the option to self-identify as Aboriginal);
  • comparable: Aboriginal students are identified in a standardized way.

Outcomes Report

Source: Manitoba Ministry of Education
Focus: Teachers and Policy Makers

Summary: Making Education Work (MEW) was a five year research project jointly funded by the Province of Manitoba and the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. The project involved high school students in six sites across Manitoba, consisting of three First Nations high schools and three provincial high schools.

The overall aim of the project was to evaluate whether the provision of additional in-school supports and services would assist Grade 10 to 12 students in staying in school, meeting graduation requirements and entering a post-secondary program. Program implementation began in the 2006/2007 school year with students scheduled to graduate in 2009.

From the outset, MEW was intended as a research project to determine whether participation in MEW would:

  • Increase Aboriginal students’ high school retention rates,
  • Increase Aboriginal students’ high school graduation rates,
  • Increase enrollment of Aboriginal students in post-secondary study

This report represents the second of two reports on MEW. The Implementation Report addresses process questions, as well as some of the initial outcomes. While this report provides a summary of the implementation issues, it focuses on outcomes and lessons learned.


Source: Inuit Student Centre
Focus: Senior students and teachers

Summary: On this page you will find an informational guide that will help you prepare for your post-secondary career. A Day in a Student’s Life is a video that offers you a glimpse into a student’s life at Carleton University. What to Expect walks you through the different stages you might experience as you adapt to the post-secondary experience. This guide to preparing for post-secondary education provides tips on how to choose a program, register, budget, time management, etc. Finally, you will find a section providing you with a list of Inuit and Aboriginal specific bursaries and scholarships that you can apply for in order to alleviate the financial stresses of funding your studies. [Note that there may be other awards specific to the post-secondary institutions as well. All websites and deadlines may be subject to change].

See more at:


Source: First Nation Education Council (FNEC)
Focus: Ages 4-6

Summary: Educational game “Recess with Piku and Mahikan”

In 2006, the FNEC distributed its educational software in all the schools and daycare centres of the FNEC member communities. It is designed for children from 4 to 6 years old.

Totem Poles: Heraldic Columns of the Northwest Coast

Source: University of Washington Digital Collection
Focus: Secondary Students

Summary: Gyáa’aang is the Haida language word for the tall red cedar poles carved with images from family histories on the northern Northwest Coast. These heraldic columns have come to be called “totem poles.” John Wallace, a Haida pole carver, told Viola Garfield that the translation of the word gyáa’ aang is “man stands up straight”, a descriptive rather than literal translation. The term “totem pole” is not a native Northwest Coast phrase. In fact, the use of the term “totem” to refer to the Northwest Coast images of family crests or emblems is not strictly accurate. The word “totem” itself derives from an Ojibwa word, “ototeman,” and “totemism” in anthropological terms refers to the belief that a kin group is descended from a certain animal and treats it with special care, refraining from eating or hunting it. The figures carved on Northwest Coast poles generally represent ancestors and supernatural beings that were once encountered by the ancestors of the lineage, who thereby acquired the right to represent them as crests, symbols of their identity, and records of their history.

Several different types of these monumental poles include: tall house frontal poles placed against the house front, often serving as doorways of houses with the entrance through a hole at the bottom; carved interior house posts that support roof beams; free standing memorial poles placed in front of houses to honor deceased chiefs; and mortuary poles made to house the coffins of important people in a niche at the top. Tall multiple-figure poles were first made only by the northern Northwest Coast Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian peoples in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia. Large human welcome figures and interior house posts were made by the Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth people further south, and the Coast Salish people in Southern British Columbia and western Washington also carved large human figures representing ancestors and spirit helpers on interior house posts and as grave monuments.

This site includes stories, links and question to further investigate these heraldic columns – totems.

Classroom Resources

Source: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)
Focus: Elementary students

Summary: Aboriginal Canadians have helped make our country a place that we can all be proud to call home. This section includes just a few of the many Aboriginal leaders, artists, athletes and other role models that have made a difference in Canada, their communities and around the world. Use this list as a starting point to find out more about successful Aboriginal role models.

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