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Issue #83
October, 2016

Improving Education for Indigenous Children in Canada: Rapporteur’s Summary

Source: C.D. Howe Institute
Focus: Policy makers and general public

Summary: It is impossible to focus on the future of First Nations education in Canada without understanding the past. Canada’s history of residential schools sowed seeds of mistrust that continue to make progress difficult. But progress is imperative, and the improvement of opportunities for indigenous peoples remains Canada’s greatest social policy issue. It’s hard to imagine a prosperous future for Canada that does not see a dramatic turnaround in the education fortunes of struggling First Nations students. We all have a role to play – businesses, provincial and federal governments, school boards, families, communities – and there are no quick solutions. It is urgent that reforms advance quickly, but we must also understand that better results from better schools will take time to materialize.

The new federal government has highlighted the importance of policies towards indigenous peoples, and committed significant financial resources toward improved on-reserve healthcare, housing, and education. But the way in which those financial commitments are delivered matters greatly to their potential success, and to future opportunities for better delivering education to First Nations communities.

On April 15, 2016, the C.D. Howe Institute invited established educators as well as administrators and researchers who have experience in provincial engagement in First Nations education, to a seminar to discuss potential short- and long-term education goals, the responsibilities of all individuals and parties involved in delivering education, and what specific, measurable goals can be accomplished in the next few years.

This report provides a summary of those discussions. To preview what follows, participants emphasized the importance of community-driven goals and the need for community-level curricula. All participants believed in the value of measuring student performance, though views varied on how early or often to measure performance, highlighting room for flexibility. Although the overall state of First Nation education in Canada is a major concern, there are pockets of tremendous success, which should be studied for lessons worth learning. Suggestions were made on how to fulfill the federal government’s budgeted commitments, but there was little consensus on how to proceed.

Aboriginal Education Grade 12 Current Topics in First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies: A Foundation for Implementation

Source: Manitoba Education
Focus: Grade 12

Summary: Grade 12 Current Topics in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies: A Foundation for Implementation supports the empowerment of students through the exploration of the histories, traditions, cultures, worldviews, and contemporary issues of Indigenous peoples in Canada and worldwide. Students gain knowledge and develop the values, as well as the critical thinking, communication, analytical, and inquiry skills, that will enable them to better understand past and present realities of Indigenous peoples. Additionally, exploration of topics such as self-determination, self-government, and language and cultural reclamation allows students to understand and work towards the post-colonial future envisioned by Indigenous peoples.

First Voices Mobile Apps

Source: First Peoples’ Cultural Council
Focus: Students, teachers, parents

Summary: First Peoples’ Cultural Council is a leader in the development and deployment of technology-based solutions for Indigenous language reclamation and revitalization. The wealth of language development data uploaded by Indigenous community champions to is being repurposed in multiple dictionary and tutor apps. Each application is an interactive and customizable dictionary that brings the FirstVoices archive to the user’s fingertips.

We Were So Far Away – The Inuit Experience of Residential Schools

Source: Legacy of Hope Foundation
Focus: Secondary teachers and students

Summary: In 2008, a group of courageous Inuit residential school Survivors shared their experiences with the Legacy of Hope Foundation with the hope of contributing to the healing process for Survivors, their families and communities, as well as the rest of the nation. Their stories, recorded in this exhibition catalogue, are presented in their own words and illustrated with their personal objects and photographs, as well as with historical photographs from archives across Canada. The Survivors, two from each Inuit region – Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, provide us with moving examples of what life was like for many Inuit before, during, and after their time in the Residential School System.

Despite the unique nature of each account, many Inuit and other Aboriginal Residential School Survivors will recognize aspects of themselves in the stories of former students: their memories of childhood and their experiences in school; the struggles they have already overcome; and the challenges they still face today. The hope these Survivors hold for healing and reconciliation in the future, for themselves, their families and their communities, is shared by many Survivors of Residential Schools.

Sharing their Stories: Narratives of Young Métis Parents and Elders about Parenting

Source: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, Catherine Graham and Tanya Davoren
Focus: Caregivers and their families

Summary: The newly released report, Sharing their Stories: Narratives of Young Métis Parents and Elders about Parenting, is based on discussions with 18 Métis parents, aspiring parents and grandparents in British Columbia over the course of 2009 and 2010. This resource documents and analyzes Métis narratives on parenting within the context of their unique historical and contemporary experiences.

Project of the Heart ebook: Illuminating the Hidden History of Indian Residential Schools in BC

Source: BC Teachers’ Federation
Focus: Secondary teachers and students

Summary: This eBook is intended to be an interactive resource leading educators from the story to the ‘back story’ utilizing links on each page to offer related resources. Throughout this book you will find Project of Heart tiles with an ‘aura’ which indicates that this is a link. Click on each of the tiles to find additional resources including films, videos, documents, articles, activities and more.

Grade 5 Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation

Source: First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)
Focus: Grade 5

Summary: These learning resources are designed to help Grade 5 students attain an understanding of the history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people over Canada’s history. The primary learning resources are published literature, enabling a cross-curricular approach employing both Language Arts and Social Studies learning standards.

While the instructional activities are presented in a structured format that is an example of how they may be incorporated, they are intended to be flexible in their use. They allow for the application of both a First Peoples Pedagogy and the BC Social Studies Curriculum.

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