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Want to decolonize education? Where classes are held matters

Source: The Conversation, Canada

Summary: Murray Sinclair, who was chair of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has made clear the importance of “forging and maintaining of respectful relationships” in the process of truth and reconciliation.

At the department of urban and inner-city studies at the University of Winnipeg, we aim to create a safe and supportive space for Indigenous and other structurally disadvantaged learners who would otherwise not attend university. We also aim to build trusting relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. These aims are central to our decolonizing approach.

Although remote learning has been necessary during COVID-19, it has disrupted our ability to engage students in the kind of meaningful, often uncomfortable, dialogue that is critical to moving from truth toward reconciliation and action. Our research is ongoing, but initial surveys sent to students confirm that the majority of students want be back in class at our unique location.

Indigenous Education K-12

Source: The University of British Columbia

Focus: Teachers and researchers

Summary: “Indigenous peoples have drawn on specific pedagogies to transmit Indigenous knowledges. While Indigenous pedagogies differ across Nations and locations, a number of similarities exist… These timeless pedagogies engage learning processes and practices that can be used in the classroom.”
(From Teaching for Indigenous Education).

While we endeavour to incorporate an extensive and current collection of resources related to Indigenous Education in this research guide, it is important to remember that this is still a small field of study, and that it might be hard to find the exact resource you need. In these situations we recommend researching around the area or age range of resources available, finding ways to alter them to meet your educational needs and, if possible, making the resources you create public so that future educators can build on them in turn.

Skills Development in Northern Mining Regions: Lessons from Manitoba

Source: Future Skills Centre

Summary: For many Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba, the mining industry is a major source of employment. However, these jobs are vulnerable to mine life cycles, market demand for commodities, and automation. Mining is steadily becoming a skilled occupation, so worker education and training must keep up with the skills required to do modern mining jobs.

Providing adequate educational and training opportunities for learners in remote and Indigenous communities faces a unique set of challenges, including geography, culture, and Internet access. Organizations that form part of the regional skills development ecosystem in northern Manitoba, including postsecondary institutions, governments, industry bodies, and learners, must all rise to the challenge of meeting current job needs while keeping an eye on the skills and training workers will need in the future.

Mapping the Landscape: Indigenous Skills Training and Jobs in Canada 

Source: Future Skills Centre

Summary: Indigenous businesses are growing and, importantly, creating employment for others. Further, self-employment and entrepreneurship is increasing. If there is an opportunity for the next generation, and for current adult workers, to leapfrog into the future of Canadian work, it may very well be through Indigenous-led business.

1.      350,000 Indigenous youth will come of age by 2026, and now is the time for policymakers to address underemployment of skilled Indigenous workers and the lack of baseline essential skills amongst Indigenous youth and adults. If this cohort gets the support they need to build essential skills through access to quality, targeted, and culturally appropriate education, skills and training, they would boost the country’s economy by $27.7 billion annually.

2.      One study suggests that even at higher numeracy and literacy skill levels, First Nations People still have a significantly lower probability of employment (75 percent) than Métis (87 percent) or non-Indigenous (90 percent). Notably, even lower-skilled non-Indigenous people have a higher probability of employment than First Nations People (87 percent). Workplace bullying and discrimination causes some Indigenous Peoples to leave employment.

Traditional Animal Foods of Indigenous People of North America

Source: Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University

Focus: Intermediate and senior students

Summary: Indigenous Peoples have an implicit understanding of food security and sustainable diets derived from place-based knowledge and livelihoods spanning thousands of years. Informed by their local knowledge and guided by conceptions of living well, Indigenous Peoples are the custodians of a large part of the world’s biodiversity and natural resources.  Recent local, national, and international efforts are bringing forward the vast knowledge of Indigenous Peoples to better document food biodiversity and its cultural and nutritional contributions to human well-being. Our intent is for this publication to recognize the contributions of Indigenous Peoples in northern North America to our global heritage of food knowledge.

This web publication has the purpose to describe and to reference the published literature on traditional animal foods known and used by Indigenous Peoples of northern North America. We present information on the locations of the cultures whose peoples have used, and often continue to use, these foods.

Promoting the Skills Trades to Indigenous Youth in Canada

Source: Canadian Apprenticeship Forum

Focus: Intermediate teachers and students

Summary: This report describes experiential learning opportunities in high school for students interested in learning about the skilled trades. Examples of Indigenous-focused initiatives and the impacts on student outcome are described.


Building Connections: Preparing Indigenous Youth for a Digital Future

Source: RBC

Summary: Over the next decade, 750,000 Indigenous youth will move through the education system and into early careers. What will they need to thrive in the Canadian economy of the 2020s? Advanced technologies are transforming every sector in the country. From mining and forestry to retail and entertainment, the demand for digital skills is accelerating—and disrupting old jobs and ways. Traditionally, financial capital was seen as the main driver of economic development. Now we know, there’s a need for capital, technology and skills to all work together. Drawing on our ongoing effort to understand the skills challenges facing all young Canadians, this report will focus on the human capital and skills needed for Indigenous youth to thrive in a technology-rich economy.

Linking Employment to Sources of Value in Inuit Nunangat

Source: Conference Board of Canada

Summary: Value is more than just money or the exchange of goods through a market economy. Value rests in the connection between skills, knowledges, assets, strengths, and communities.

Northern livelihoods depend on these different sources of value for self-determination, as well as personal and community benefit. Policy-makers often overlook this, and instead heavily emphasize only economic capital and market-based opportunities.

Our research will generate recommendations on how existing Inuit skill sets, strengths, and knowledge can be better applied to existing and emerging economic opportunities.

Our goal is to identify insights that will help Northern economies grow, diversify, and offer opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in Inuit Nunangat.

Decolonizing Possibilities in Special Education Services

Source: Yee, N. L., & Butler, D. L. (2020). Decolonizing Possibilities in Special Education Services. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation43(4), 1071-1103. Retrieved from

Summary: Colonial contexts continue to shape the experiences of Indigenous students, especially in special education, even as educators work to respond to Indigenous perspectives. In this article we first apply a decolonizing critique to consider how colonialism affects special education programming, then survey Indigenous and decolonizing scholarship to (re)imagine how educators may start to address these concerns. Our analysis suggests that educators (1) engage in critical self-examination, (2) adopt holistic assessment strategies, (3) explore teaching practices emerging from decolonizing perspectives, and (4) examine and (re)imagine service delivery models. Educators may use these ideas as a springboard for exploring more contextualized decolonizing possibilities.

Promoting Indigenous Skilled Trades to Indigenous Youth in Canada

Source: Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF)

Focus: Senior secondary teachers

Summary: This report describes experiential learning opportunities in high school for students interested in learning about the skilled trades. There are three main ways students obtain hands-on learning experiences: trades exploration, trades and technology courses, and Youth Apprenticeship Programs. Schools, Indigenous education and training organizations, nonprofits, unions, industry associations and colleges offer specific programs for Indigenous youth. Examples of Indigenous-focused initiatives and the impacts on student outcomes are described. The report also summarizes interview and dialogue findings. CAF interviewed high school teachers, school board officials, and representatives from non-profit organizations, unions, industry associations and Indigenous education and training organizations. These individuals administer career exploration programs or teach trades courses and they provided insights about the barriers Indigenous youth experience when trying to pursue hands-on learning at high school or when transitioning to an apprenticeship after high school. They shared what has successfully worked for them when trying to implement experiential learning programs. They made recommendations based upon their experiences working directly with Indigenous youth. Indigenous high school and post-secondary students identified barriers and provided recommendations they felt would help Indigenous youth, like themselves, succeed in apprenticeships and skilled trades careers.

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