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Issue #90
May, 2017

Are we making progress? New evidence on Aboriginal Education Outcomes in Provincial and Reserve Schools

Source: C.D.Howe Institute, John Richards, April 2014

Summary: Urgent action by the federal government is required to address the persistently low high-school completion rates among young First Nation adults living on-reserve, according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report. In “Are We Making Progress? New Evidence on Aboriginal Education Outcomes in Provincial and Reserve Schools,” author John Richards concludes that on-reserve education is in crisis. According to recently released 2011 census results, 58 percent of young adults living on-reserve have not completed high school. While results among young First Nation adults living off-reserve improved between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, there was little change among those living on-reserve.

Listuguj Education Directorate Increasing Literacy through Language Immersion

Source: Indspire. Researcher: Linda Simon

Summary: The Mi’gmaq community of Listuguj is located in the southwestern part of the Gaspé Peninsula (Québec) bordering the province of New Brunswick. Listuguj has a population of 3,786, of which 2,066 Mi’gmaq people live in the community and 1,720 live off reserve. Just over half of the population is under the age of thirty; however, most Mi`gmaq speakers are over the age of fifty.

Formed in 1992, the Listuguj Education Directorate operates a Nursery to Grade 8 School. Students graduating from Alaqsite’w Gitpu School in Listuguj, Quebec then go on to Senior High School in Campbellton, New Brunswick. The school follows the curriculum of New Brunswick, and includes both French and Mi’gmaq Immersion programs in addition to the regular program of study.

The complete Nursery K4 – Grade 2 Mi’gmaq Immersion Program was developed in stages. A Kindergarten Mi’gmaq Immersion program was first implemented in 2002. When teaching resources were obtainable, and with parental support, a Grade 1 Mi’kmaq Immersion program was added in 2009, followed by Grade 2 in 2010. Finally, in 2011, with sufficient registrations, a Nursery K4 program was initiated to complete the Nursery to Grade 2 Immersion Program.

The success of this Immersion program is due to a core of people at Listuguj Education Directorate who share a long-term vision and commitment to immersion; capable personnel at the community, school, and classroom level; a plan for certification for teachers from the community; strategies for development of curriculum and teaching materials at the community level; and partnerships with other Mi`gmaq communities, universities and other bodies with expertise in developing immersion programs such as McGill and Concordia University Linguistic Departments.

The project reached the planned short term goal of students learning basic reading and writing skills in Mi’gmaq Language, and conversing in Mi’gmaq in the classroom by Grade 2. But, unpredictably, students who completed the full immersion program were seen to have greater confidence through improved self-identity, and student achievement.

The Grade 2 students were able to demonstrate greater language fluency and improved literacy rates compared to their peers as demonstrated on standardized tests such as the CAT 4 (Canadian Achievement Test), the province of New Brunswick Literacy tests, and the Ontario (OWA) Writing Assessment.

The results of the Immersion Program in Listuguj can be corroborated by similar findings in other Immersion programs in the Atlantic region which include fluency, identity, and student achievement.

Strategies to Minimize Suicide, Resource Sheet No. 18, produced for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

Source: Australian Government. Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

Summary: What we know

  • The mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been severely affected by the impact of colonisation, relocation of people to missions and reserves, transgenerational grief and trauma resulting from the removal of children, racism and continued socioeconomic disadvantage.
  • Suicide is an extremely distressing event that can profoundly disrupt the family, friends and communities of those who take their own lives.
  • The Indigenous suicide rate is not accurately known due to quality issues with Indigenous deaths data and Indigenous population estimates. Available data indicate that the Indigenous suicide rate is about double that of the non-Indigenous population.
  • Almost 4 in 5 Indigenous people who complete suicide are males, with the highest suicide rates occurring in younger age groups.
  • Indigenous suicide can be associated with alcohol or other drug use and chronic mental illness, so these are appropriate targets for intervention.
  • There are few evaluations of Indigenous-specific suicide prevention programs in Australia. A number of effective non-Indigenous-specific programs have been shown to be culturally appropriate and acceptable to Indigenous people.

What works

  • Community programs that focus on the social, emotional, cultural and spiritual underpinnings of community wellbeing can be effective in preventing suicide.
  • A culturally adapted brief intervention comprising motivational care planning, has been effective in improving wellbeing and decreasing alcohol and cannabis dependence among Indigenous people with chronic mental illness, in three remote communities in northern Australia.

What doesn’t work

  • Programs that are not culturally competent and do not have a high level of Indigenous ownership and community support are unlikely to be effective.

New Report Offers Unprecedented Look at the Realities of family, school and work life of First Nations

Source: First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC)

Summary: A new report released [Tue, July 12, 2016] by the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) provides unprecedented and exceptional insight into a wide range of early childhood, education and employment factors affecting life on First Nations reserve and Northern communities across Canada.

Now is the Time: Our Data, Our Stories, Our Future, The National Report of the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey is the culmination of a landmark five-year survey process conducted by FNIGC, the premier source of information about First Nations people and communities, and its Regional Partners.

The most technically complex survey in FNIGC’s history, the report of the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey (FNREEES, or REEES) shows strong associations between the importance First Nations people place on language, culture and family, and the educational, employment, health, and well-being outcomes in their communities.

Grade 10 Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation

Source: First Nations Education Steering Committee
Focus: Grade 10

Summary: These learning resources are designed to help Grade Ten students attain an understanding of the history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people over Canada’s history. They are for the instruction of youth from all cultural backgrounds, not just Aboriginal students.

While the instructional activities are presented in a structured format, they are intended to be flexible in their use. They allow for the application of both a First Peoples Pedagogy and the changing BC Curriculum.

The activities are designed to be adaptable and flexible. Teachers can follow the sequence of lessons, they can use particular lessons or sections as stand-alone activities, or they can adapt the activities to meet their own curriculum planning requirements and the learning needs of their students.

Red River Spy Mission

Source: Canada’s History. By Anthony Caruso, 2008 Governor-General’s Award Recipient
Focus: Grade 8 Students

Summary: This activity is simple in that the resources for the teacher are readily available. The activity takes a common resource, the textbook, and uses it in a creative way. The activity will examine the1869 Red River Rebellion in what is now Manitoba. One of the resolutions passed in the Confederation debates was the purchase of Rupert’s Land. This land covered most of Western Canada and was owned by the Hudson Bay Company. Rupert’s Land was to provide a young nation, the Dominion of Canada, with a chance to expand. Canada purchased the land for 300 000 pounds and the authority of this land was to be transferred to the Canadian federal government on December 1, 1869.

However, nobody thought to seek the approval of the inhabitants of this land. The Hudson Bay Company withdrew its rule in January 1869, technically leaving the area with no legal government for close to a year. The Métis people, under the leadership of Louis Riel, were upset at not being consulted about joining the new nation and were fearful that their land rights and way of life would be compromised. They stopped Canadian surveyors from surveying their land, they prevented the future lieutenant-governor, William McDougall (a Father of Confederation) from entering the Red River area, and they established a provisional government of their own. They made demands that they wanted the Canadian government to meet.

Students are to pretend that they have traveled back in time to 1869. The class will receive a package containing all the necessary worksheets and a computer slide presentation (yes I know this is an anachronism!) The computer presentation has John A. Macdonald writing directly to your class seeking their help. He does not know how to respond to this ‘problem’ at Red River. He ponders: “Do I seek a peaceful solution through negotiation, or do I use force?” Macdonald then asks the students to act as spies. He wants them to infiltrate the Red River settlement to gather vital information so that he can make the best decision.

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