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Issue #70
September, 2015

Right from the Start – NWT

Source: Northwest Territories Education, Culture and Employment
Focus: Parents, teachers, caregivers

Summary: Today’s children will determine what society will be like in the future. They will shape the world! Our children are precious and full of potential. Yet they are also vulnerable, and deserve to grow up in a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment. Children who are well cared for in their earliest years are far more likely to be successful in school, more productive at work, have greater financial success and be healthier throughout their lives. Children with a good start in life are less likely to fall behind in school, get into trouble with the law, depend on social services, live in poverty, be homeless or have issues with addictions.

The Facts on Education: How can we create conditions for Aboriginal student success in our public schools?

Source: Canadian Education Association (CEA)

Summary: Aboriginal children under age 14 make up 7% of all children in Canada and the Aboriginal population is the fastest growing demographic in this country. Eighty percent of Aboriginal children attend off-reserve provincial schools. In terms of school success, there are significant gaps in learning outcomes and graduation rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.

Nationally, provincially, and territorially, public school educators are committed to closing these gaps, and some success has been realized. For example, in classrooms where Aboriginal content and perspectives were incorporated into a high quality learning program, Aboriginal student grades increased significantly.

Strong leadership is critical to the development of high quality learning programs designed to provide Aboriginal students with every opportunity to succeed in Canadian public schools. Key strategies in creating environments to ensure this success include:

  • Relationship building between the Aboriginal community and public school system administrators/educators and meaningful engagement of the Aboriginal community (Elders, Traditional Teachers, etc.) in all aspects of education from policy-making to creating curriculum and resources;
  • Increasing the numbers of Aboriginal teachers who share their culture and can identify with Aboriginal students and vice-versa;
  • Creating school cultures where Aboriginal students feel respected and can experience a positive sense of belonging;
  • Understanding and incorporating Aboriginal perspectives of learning that is: holistic; lifelong; experiential in nature; rooted in Aboriginal languages, cultures, and spirituality; community based involving family, Elders and other community members;
  • Incorporating Aboriginal perspectives and learning resources into daily curricula for all students – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – rather than presenting them as add-on materials or special topics for some groups only;
  • Providing teachers with authentic and culturally appropriate resources reflective of local Aboriginal communities and perspectives;
  • Requiring the inclusion of Aboriginal history and perspectives in teacher training and professional development activities to inform and shape teacher attitudes and instructional practices in classrooms.

With the shared commitment and collaborative effort of all stakeholders – Aboriginal communities; policy makers; administrators, teachers, parents, and students – we can create schools where all students, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, can learn and succeed at high levels.

For online resources as well as the research references that inform this issue, please visit:

Gifted Native American Students: Underperforming, Under-Identified, and Overlooked

Source: Marcia Gentry, Matthew Fufgate, Purdue University

Summary: There has been limited focus among researchers on the nature and needs of gifted Native American students in the past 30 years, and the work that has been done frequently generalizes findings across Native American cultures. This article reviews recent literature on Native American youth and on gifted Native American students; examines the current condition of education in the Dine ́ (Navajo) Nation through a sociocultural motivation lens and based on work with one tribal community on this reservation; calls researchers and educators to action and to recognize that, as with all ethnic groups, many individual cultures exist within Native American populations; and offers suggestions for education personnel.

Preparing Bachelor of Education teachers to teach on Ontario’s Northern, Remote FNMI Schools

Source: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Danyluk, P., & Sheppard, G. (2015)

Summary: Between June 2013 and June 2014, 11 graduates from the School of Education at Laurentian University, most teaching in smaller communities scattered across northern Ontario, were interviewed about their recent experiences. The purpose of these interviews was to determine how well the concurrent education program had prepared these graduates for the realities of teaching in First Nation, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) remote and rural communities in the province. Five of the graduates’ administrators or school principals were also interviewed to determine how thoroughly teacher training had prepared the graduates to work in the north and how the program could be improved.

A phenomenological methodology was employed to determine the lived experiences of graduates teaching in these communities. Data were triangulated using interviews, questionnaires, observations and document analysis to address the research questions. Wherever possible the researchers traveled to the communities in which the graduates were teaching to develop a better understanding of the experiences of the participants.

It is our belief that developing mutually beneficial partnerships with FNMI communities – despite real issues involving travel costs and housing availability – would enhance Ontario’s pre-service teacher education programs.

Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations

Source: National Museum of the American Indian
Focus: Senior students

Summary: Treaties—solemn agreements between sovereign nations—lie at the heart of the relationship between Indian Nations and the United States. Native Nations made treaties with one another long before Europeans came to the Western Hemisphere. The United States began making treaties with Native Peoples because they were independent nations. Often broken, sometimes coerced, treaties still define mutual obligations between the United States and Indian Nations. The eight treaties featured in Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations are representative of the approximately 374 that were ratified between the United States and Native Nations.

FNMI Curriculum Collection

Source: University of Lethbridge
Focus: Elementary students

Summary: The Faculty of Education sponsored the development of this First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) Curriculum Collection. It is a collection of lessons and resources designed to help pre and in-service teachers incorporate FNMI content in their teaching across subjects and grade levels. One can browse through the collection or search by categories (e.g., subject, title, key word, grade, etc.). One can contribute to the collection by creating and submitting new lessons or resources that will become available upon approval by the manager of the collection.

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