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Issue #80
July, 2016

Promising Practices in Increasing and Supporting Participation for Aboriginal Students in Ontario

Source: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

Summary: This paper is the result of a review of over 40 programs in Ontario colleges and universities that were designed to increase recruitment, participation and retention of Aboriginal students in postsecondary education. It involved a literature review, site visits to 6 postsecondary institutions and qualitative interviews with program administrators and coordinators at 28 institutions in Ontario. The researchers found that significant progress has been made in developing support programs for Aboriginal students. It’s noted in the paper that almost all colleges and universities in Ontario now have some form of support program and many institutions have taken a holistic approach and have implemented a number of programs targeting different underlying causes of lower participation and retention among Aboriginal students.

Progress is noted in the area of Aboriginal management bodies which are in place to help inform the design and implementation of Aboriginal-focused programs. Aboriginal Elders are being consulted and are playing a more active role on college and university campuses. As well, the number of courses being offered in the native languages of Ontario’s First Nations Peoples has increased, and the number of Aboriginal teachers available to teach and serve as role models has also increased.

As the name suggests, the report also provides a broad snapshot of promising practices aimed at increasing Aboriginal recruitment and retention.

Our Shared Experience: A Review of Thames Valley District School Board’s First Nations Metis and Inuit Programming

Source: Thames Valley District School Board, Ontario
Focus: Teachers

Summary: This review framework integrates principles, responsibilities, and approaches outlined in the Ministry’s Policy Framework and TVDSB’s Our Shared Vision. [A] graphic demonstrates how these areas are integrated and provides a guide for the review process, as well as a resource for future planning and review. The 29 Board responsibilities delineated in the Policy Framework were reviewed and collapsed into four main categories: collaborative relationships, system structures, programs, and lifelong learning. Our Shared Vision and key program and initiative documentation was reviewed and analyzed to identify key desired student outcomes. Cultural connectedness, sense of belonging, student attendance, and student achievement were identified.

Kinàmàgawin: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom

Source: Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
Focus: Secondary/Post-secondary

Summary: Kinàmàgawin: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom is a documentary film that examines the difficulties experienced when discussing Aboriginal issues in post-secondary classrooms at Carleton University. Twenty-one Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, instructors, faculty, and staff across various disciplines reflect upon their most memorable classroom moments when Indigenous issues were discussed.

The accompanying resource guide includes:

  • Common reactions to the project/film Strategies for responding
  • Description and analysis of each theme within the film
  • Discussion questions
  • Model for workshops

The Role of Inuit Knowledge in the Care of Children

Source: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH)

Summary: Inuit knowledge, or Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, is a dynamic and living knowledge system. As series author and educator Shirley Tagalik notes, it is key not only to a ‘cultural health’ approach to the well-being of Inuit children, families and communities in Canada – but also to the survival of Inuit in a changing contemporary context.

After more than a decade of regular meetings across the region, Inuit Elders from Nunavut have now documented Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit cultural knowledge and identified a framework for ‘IQ’ that can be applied in Inuit society.

“Tawow” Welcome to Pow-Wow Country: Our Legacy

Source: Our Legacy, Sakatchewan, Patricia Deiter
Focus: Secondary Students

Summary: Pow-wow to the First Nations people of Saskatchewan is a way of life and a symbol of cultural survival. We have more Pow-wows here in Saskatchewan on an annual basis than any other province or state in North America. Saskatchewan Pow-wows can be labeled as the best in North America as our dancers and drum groups are proven champions throughout North America. This dance form is traced to the Omaha and Pawnee people of the southern United States and came north through the Dakota people. In their honour, the Plains Cree refer to the dance as the Pwatsimowin or the Dakota dance.

The term Pow-wow was used in the historical records for Saskatchewan by Church missionaries lobbying to have Pow-wows banned by the federal government as early as 1903. A history of Pow-wows in Saskatchewan reflects the struggles that confronted First Nations to retain their traditions and spiritual beliefs. Today, Pow-wows have become a source of identity for First Nations and a school for our children to begin to learn their Indian heritage.

In our own Words: Bringing Authentic First Peoples Content to the K-3 Classroom

Source: First Nation Education Steering Committee (FNESC)
Focus: Kindergarten to Grade 3

Summary: This resource has been developed in response to desire on the part of teachers for more guidance and information on how to incorporate First Peoples materials into their instruction and assessment practices. Educators and communities have long recognized a need for increased information and support in the use of culturally appropriate and meaningful First Peoples content, materials, and teaching methods. This desire for support reflects an awareness and recognition that:

  • there is value for all students when First Peoples content and worldviews are incorporated in classroom learning experiences in a meaningful and authentic way
  • there is a need to continue developing educational approaches that better meet the needs of Aboriginal students
  • it is increasingly possible to personalize and customize learning experiences in response to class makeup and individual students’ learning needs (e.g., due to rapid improvements in information technologies)
  • first Peoples literature, creative works, role models, and other learning resources are more widely available now than in the past, and this availability is continuing to improve
  • many First Peoples communities, both on-reserve and off, are committed to making education a priority
  • first Peoples communities themselves contain the most accurate and authentic source of teaching about First Peoples — their traditions, environments, ecologies, directions, priorities, etc.

At the same time, many teachers are aware:

  • of limitations in their own knowledge of First Peoples issues and topics
  • that there exists considerable diversity among First Peoples in BC, and that it is often inappropriate to base teaching on broad generalizations.

Teachers are often anxious about perpetuating misconceptions, making mistakes, or giving offence when approaching First Peoples topics. And while they may be willing to engage with their local First Peoples communities, they recognize the importance of keeping their primary focus on day-to-day student learning and are acutely aware of how challenging and time consuming the necessary networking can be.

That is why this guide has been developed. It provides an array of ideas and suggestions that can be applied in whole or in part to incorporate First Peoples content into K-3 classrooms. By following the suggestions provided here and remaining open to respectful dialogue and consultation with members of the local First Peoples communities, teachers will benefit their students and expand their own comfort with this material. And while mistakes will inevitably occur (as in any undertaking), no mistake arising from application of the suggestions provided here will prove as serious as the mistake of failing to work toward a more accurate portrayal of First People realities in the classroom or a pedagogy that is more inclusive of Aboriginal learners.


Source: The University of Victoria’s Maltwood Museum and Art Gallery
Focus Secondary Students

Summary: This website is an interactive educational art game. Played in full, the game will take approximately 2.5 hours. You may wish to encourage students to complete the game in segments. After successful completion of each nation, players will receive a printable diploma to help them keep a record of which nations they have completed.

The questions were designed to accommodate a variety of learning levels and styles so that ideally, all minds may be stimulated and achieve success. The challenges in this game may also be used for exam preparation for any subject area. The questions encourage players to be aware of what they see and read and then to illustrate their immediate understanding.

The University of Victoria’s Maltwood Museum and Art Gallery is proud to present its collection of Northwest Coast First Nations prints. Having 2000 prints in their collection, this website was established to make a small sample of this art globally accessible.

The goal is to present these images in a stimulating and informative manner through SchoolNet. The user will encounter the art in the form of a game. It is an educational art game. It will test the user’s learning of the Northwest Coast First Nations peoples and their art.

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