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Issue #96
November, 2017

Government Partners with Martin Family Initiative to Support Innovative Teaching Fo-cused on Early Literacy in First Nations Schools

Source: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Summary: (March 10, 2017) Closing the gap in the education outcomes of First Nations children living on reserve is critical to improving their quality of life and contributes to stronger communities for the shared success of all Canadians. The Government of Canada believes there should be nothing preventing an Indigenous child from having the same hopes and aspirations as any other child in Canada and the opportunities to achieve them.

Today, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, congratulated the students of the six First Nations schools that have joined the Martin Family Initiative’s Model School Literacy Project for the 2016-17 school year.

What Explains the Educational Attainment Gap between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Youth?

Source: Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network. Working Paper No. 78. Marc Frenette, Social Research and Demonstration Corporation

Summary: Aboriginal people generally have lower levels of educational attainment than other groups in Canada, but little is known about the reasons behind this gap. This study is the second of two by the same author investigating the issue in detail. The first paper (Frenette 2011) concludes that the labour market benefits to pursuing further schooling are generally not lower for Aboriginal people than for non-Aboriginal people. This second paper takes a more direct approach to the subject by examining the gap in educational attainment between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth using the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS), Cohort A. Aboriginal people who live on-reserve or in the North are excluded from the YITS and, thus, from this analysis. The results of the analysis show that most (90 percent) of the university attendance gap among high school graduates is associated with differences in relevant academic and socio-economic characteristics. The largest contributing factor among these is academic performance (especially differences in performance on scholastic, as opposed to standardized, tests). Differences in parental income account for very little of the university attendance gap, even when academic factors are excluded from the models (and thus do not absorb part of the indirect effect of income). Differences in academic and socio-economic characteristics explain a smaller proportion of the gap in high school completion than in university attendance.

Interviewing Elders: Guidelines from the National Aboriginal Health Organization

Source: National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO)

Focus: Teachers and Administrators

Summary: Reporters wishing to cover events involving Elders’ teachings need to be aware of some simple protocols for approaching Elders and determining how information can be used in news articles, voice clips, or photos/video.

Aboriginal Peoples have great respect for the wisdom gained, over the course of individual lives, but age is not necessarily the defining characteristic of an Elder. Individuals recognized as Elders have earned the respect of their community. Elders are people whose actions and words convey consistency, balance, harmony, and wisdom in their teachings. Elders hold invaluable knowledge and skills. There are specific ways to share them with others.

The National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO) is committed to affirming traditional Aboriginal healing practices and medicines and ensuring that these practices receive recognition and respect.

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Elders are integral to the National Aboriginal Health Organization’s (NAHO’s) conferences, regional gatherings, and other media events. The Elders play a vital role as participants, performing ceremonies, making presentations, or providing guidance.

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Work-force

Source: Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Summary: Canada’s businesses agree completely with the Prime Minister regarding the potential of our Aboriginal peoples to contribute to our collective economic prosperity. In fact, members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce identified the participation of the Aboriginal peoples in our workforce as one of four priority areas in addressing the barrier to their competitiveness posed by their difficulties in finding workers with the skills they need.

The Canadian Chamber has focused on the significant difficulties Aboriginal peoples face in completing elementary, secondary and post-secondary education and in obtaining and retaining employment. In this paper, we take a different approach to this issue by highlighting productive initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples and the competitiveness of employers. We will also offer recommendations to the federal government and Canada’s businesses on measures both can take to provide Aboriginal peoples and communities—as well as businesses—with the tools to make these success stories the norm.

Aboriginals in WWII

Source: Healthy Aboriginal Network (HAN)

Focus: Intermediate/senior students

Summary: On August 4th, 1914 England declared war on Germany. As a member of the British Empire, Canada was obliged to join the war. Many First Nations men had to lie about their heritage in order to join the Canadian Forces. First Nations soldiers proved to be some of Canada’s greatest warriors. Many achieved near-legendary status as scouts, trench-raiders and snipers.


Policy Issues in Indigenous Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Useful Resources – Child Care Canada

Source: Child Care Canada. Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Summary: Indigenous organizations:

  • British Columbia Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) with a specific focus on Indigenous child care
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  • Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
  • Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national representative organization of the First Nations in Canada
  • Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), a major national organization represents off-reserve First Nations and Métis
  • Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) has represented the interests of the Inuit of Canada at the national level since its incorporation in 1972
  • Métis National Council (MNC) represents the Métis Nation nationally and internationally
  • Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) seeks to “improve the economic, cultural and political well-being of Aboriginal women in Canada”
  • Pauktuuitit is the national non-profit association representing all Inuit women in Canada

Federal government Indigenous ECEC initiatives:

  • Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve
  • Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities
  • First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative (FNICCI)

Useful data:

  • Number of child care centres on reserve and in self-government regions
  • The state of Aboriginal learning in Canada: A holistic approach to measuring success
  • Canadian Council on Learning, 2009
  • Early Childhood Development Intercultural Partnerships. University of Victoria website devoted to the health, development, and success of children in Canada, and around the world

Beyond our borders…of further interest:  

  • New Zealand’s national curriculum statement for ECEC, Te whàriki, developed in the 1990s, assumes a bicultural curriculum for all early childhood services

Deepening Knowledge

Source: University of Toronto OISE/ Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Resources for Teachers

The resources in this collection cover a broad range of topics in Aboriginal Studies.

Accompanying each resource is a suggested grade level, indicated in brackets. These ratings are only a guide, and it is up to the individual teacher to determine what is appropriate for her or his classroom.

Senior Grades: Critical Engagement

Advancing students’ critical thinking about Indigenous issues and learning about Residential Schools in Canada.

(Lesson) Grade 11: “Media Portrayals of Aboriginal Peoples” (English)
FOCUS: Analyzing coverage of Indigenous issues, TRC findings, events, recommendations, etc.)

Additional: (Website) DKP: First Nations Representations in Media

(Lesson) Grade 11: “Aboriginal Peoples Rights in Canada” (Canadian and World Studies; Law)
FOCUS: Discuss Residential Schools infringement on Indigenous rights, freedom of movement, etc.

(Lesson) Grade 11: “Shaping the Political Landscape” (Canadian and World Studies; Politics)
FOCUS: Explore TRC, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, etc.

First Nations Diary: Documenting Daily Life

Source: by Jackie Underhill, 2004 Governor General’s History Award Recipient

Focus: Grade 7/8 Health, History, Language Arts, Visual Arts

Summary:  Awareness of First Nations and their way of life; quality of life, how individuals met physical, social and group needs (somewhat determined by the environment).

This plan incorporates the use of technological tools and can be extended with the use of a guest speaker. There are opportunities for cross-curricular learning and team-teaching methodology.

Instructional Outcomes

Students will:

  • increase their understanding of the First Nations historical way of life;
  • be equipped with research tools and information that they can collect into note format;
  • develop effective note-taking strategies and become experts on a topic that they then share with others;
  • use graphic organizers in a meaningful way to collect and organize information;
  • synthesize knowledge obtained through discussion, research and note-taking to create a detailed creative journal/diary that accurately displays the way of life of for the First Nations, and
  • develop writing skills in a cross-curricular manner.

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