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Issue #88
March, 2017

Aboriginal Education in Quebec: A Benchmarking Exercise

Source: C.D. Howe Institute 2011. John Richards

Summary: Quebec Aboriginal poverty is as severe as elsewhere in Canada. And in terms of education, Quebec Aboriginal outcomes are somewhat worse than comparable Canadian Aboriginal results, themselves a very low benchmark. This Commentary examines the relationship between these troubling benchmarks – education levels and employment earnings – for Quebec Aboriginals, comparing outcomes within the province’s various Aboriginal identity groups and with the rest of Canada.

While lively debates take place about how best to improve Aboriginal education, there is little disagreement on its priority as a goal. Holding constant the level of education, the employment rate is remarkably similar for the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population. The similarity holds in both Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Aboriginal educational results do not provide grounds for optimism – either in Quebec or in the rest of Canada. The overall Quebec Aboriginal dropout rate in the age 20-to-24 cohort is 43 percent, 28 points higher than for non-Aboriginals in Quebec, and three points higher than the Aboriginal dropout rate in the rest of Canada. Among the six provinces with more than 100,000 Aboriginals, Quebec ranks third in terms of incomplete high school: lower than Manitoba and Saskatchewan but higher than Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia. Within Quebec, median Aboriginal 2005 earnings were two-thirds that for non-Aboriginals; median Inuit were below three-fifths.

In contrast to the scarring policies of the past, the goal of education reform is not to eliminate Aboriginal cultures. On the other hand, primary/secondary education is about more than cultural transmission – its goal is to impart core competencies in reading, writing, mathematics and science, necessary knowledge if Aboriginal students are to enjoy a realistic choice as adults between participation in Canada’s urban industrial society or a rural, more collective style of life. The study makes six broad recommendations to improve educational outcomes with that goal in mind.

CMEC Aboriginal Educators’ Symposium Summary Report 2015

Source: Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC)

Summary: Recognizing the power of Aboriginal educators to transform lives and therefore people’s futures, it has become more and more apparent that we need to attract more Aboriginal people to the teaching profession and retain those already in the system.

The CMEC Aboriginal Education Symposium brought together new and experienced educators and Elders of Aboriginal ancestry from across Canada to discuss:

  • how best to attract more Aboriginal people to teaching careers;
  • how to encourage existing Aboriginal educators to remain in the profession;
  • how to support Aboriginal students entering the field of education; and
  • how to support all Aboriginal educators in their training and career development.

For two full days, participants discussed their challenges and successes in relation to education, teacher training, and professional development. They also provided innovative advice on how to support Aboriginal postsecondary students entering the field of education and ongoing support for experienced Aboriginal educators.

Each province and territory was invited to send a delegation of six new or experienced educators of Aboriginal descent, as well as one Elder, to discuss relevant issues and share information on successful practices. On the final day, delegates met with education ministers and CMEC officials to participate in culminating activities, share innovative ideas, and listen to final thoughts.

Advised by the Elders in attendance, all aspects of the symposium were informed by the observance of Aboriginal protocol that supported traditional knowledge and ways of knowing.

Alaska Native Cultural Resources – Lessons and Units

Source: Alaska Native Knowledge Network (ANKN)
Focus: Elementary/Secondary

Summary: A database of lessons and units searchable by content and cultural standards, cultural region and grade level. More units will be available soon. You can use Acrobat Reader to look at the PDF version of the Cover Sheet for the Units and Self-Assessment for Cultural Standards in Practice.

The ANKN is designed to serve as a resource for compiling and exchanging information related to Alaska Native knowledge systems and ways of knowing. It has been established to assist Native people, government agencies, educators and the general public in gaining access to the knowledge base that Alaska Natives have acquired through cumulative experience over millennia.

Gentle Warriors – YouTube Video

Focus: Secondary

Summary: Gentle Warrior was written by students and staff at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Canada in tribute to Mi’kmaq poet and Eskasoni native, Rita Joe. The track features lead vocals by Kalolin Johnson, the rap styling of Devon Paul and powwow chanting by Thunder Herney. Gentle Warrior was created with the support of the National Arts Centre of Canada.

Video provides opportunity for extensive classroom discussion.

The relationship between early childhood education and care (ECEC) and the outcomes of Indigenous children: evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC)

Source: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, ANU. Nicholas Biddle, L. Arcos Holzinger
Focus: Educators and Policy Makers

Summary: This study presents the most robust evidence to date of the importance of engaging Indigenous children in early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs to boost cognitive and developmental outcomes in the short term (2 years after ECEC participation) and longer term (3–5 years after ECEC participation). We highlight differences between whether a child attended preschool or child care, and explore how the number of hours attended affects cognitive and developmental outcomes.

Preschool attendance was associated with better short-term cognitive outcomes, as well as better cognitive and developmental outcomes in the longer term. There were not, however, significant effects associated with the number of preschool hours attended. Child-care attendance was associated with longer term cognitive and developmental improvements, but there is also some evidence that spending too long at child care can be detrimental to children’s developmental and cognitive outcomes.

Math First Peoples

Source: First Nations Education Steering Committee and the First Nations Schools Association with the support of the BC Ministry of Education and the Education Partnerships Program of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
Focus: Grade 8/9

Summary: The Math First Peoples Resource Guide is designed to support teachers of Mathematics 8 and 9 in British Columbia extend their existing practice to incorporate new approaches that make the BC school system more reflective of the realities of First Peoples in this province and improve overall levels of student success.

It is based on the belief that by bringing content, perspectives, and teaching approaches associated with First Peoples into the math classroom, teachers will:

  • Help all students better appreciate the presence and importance of mathematics and mathematical thinking within all human cultures and activities
  • Give all students a better sense of the significant place of First Peoples within the historical and contemporary fabric of this province
  • Help their Aboriginal students in particular to feel more comfortable in mathematics learning situations and more motivated to participate and focus – thus becoming able to learn more effectively, experience increased academic success, and develop numeracy concepts and skills for lifelong use.

Claire and her Grandfather

Source: Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada (INAC)
Focus: Primary students

Summary: The story of Claire and her Grandfather is designed to enhance young people’s awareness of some of the many contributions and inventions by Aboriginal people. The story is meant to be a versatile teaching tool for children ages 7-12, although older students might enjoy the story and its images. Teachers of children in the target age group can use the story to initiate a broader examination of the many historical and contemporary contributions of First Nations and Inuit to Canada and the world.

Teachers are authorized to reproduce Claire and her Grandfather as needed for their classroom or school use.

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