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Category: Relevant Research

Supporting Success for Indigenous Students

Source: OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

 Summary: Indigenous Peoples are diverse, within and across nations. At the same time, Indigenous children have not generally had access to the same quality of education that other children in their country enjoy. This situation arises, in part, because school leaders and teachers have not always been effectively prepared to teach Indigenous students, nor are they necessarily provided with resources to help them develop their capabilities and confidence.

Some teachers and schools are successfully supporting Indigenous students. Indigenous students report feeling supported when the people at their schools: 

•   Care about them and who they are as Indigenous People;

•   Expect them to succeed in education; and,

•   Help them to learn about their cultures, histories, and languages.

Residential schools and the effects on Indigenous health and well-being in Canada—a scoping review

Source: Wilk, P., Maltby, A. & Cooke, M. Residential schools and the effects on Indigenous health and well-being in Canada — a scoping review. Public Health Rev 38, 8 (2017).

Summary: Background

The history of residential schools has been identified as having long lasting and intergenerational effects on the physical and mental well-being of Indigenous populations in Canada. Our objective was to identify the extent and range of research on residential school attendance on specific health outcomes and the populations affected.

First Nations Employment and Deaths of Despair

Source: Inroads: Canadian Journal of Opinions. John Richards

Summary: Social conditions in many of Canada’s First Nation communities are, by expectations of a modern society, intolerable. While, on average, social conditions among those who have “gone to town” are better, they remain intolerable for many urban First Nation families. What’s to be done?

[S]ince the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the dominant answer among First Nation and non-Indigenous political leaders, academics, and newspaper editors has been affirmation of First Nation identities via an expansive interpretation of treaty rights and emphasis on autonomous Indigenous communities separate from mainstream society.

COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: Emerging Evidence on Impacts

Source: Gallagher-Mackay, Kelly; Srivastava, Prachi; Underwood, Kathryn; Dhuey, Elizabeth; McCready, Lance; Born, Karen; Maltsev, Antonina; Perkhun, Anna; Steiner, Robert; Barrett, Kali; and Sander, Beate, “COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: Emerging Evidence on Impacts” (2021). Law and Society Faculty Publications.

Summary:  Key Messages

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant education disruption in Ontario. This has included mass and localized school closures, multiple models of educational provision, and gaps in support for students with disabilities. The unequal distribution of school closures and pandemic associated hardships, particularly affecting low-income families in which racialized and Indigenous groups, newcomers and people with disabilities are overrepresented, appear to be deepening and accelerating inequities in education outcomes, wherever data have been collected. Further, there are health risks associated with closures including significant physical, mental health and safety harms for students and children.

Modeling suggests long-term impacts on students’ lifetime earnings and the national economy. There are substantial data gaps on the impact of closures on Ontario’s children. However, existing information and analysis can inform strategies to minimize further pandemic disruptions to children’s education and development. Identifying or tracking areas where students are facing the greatest challenges in the wake of COVID-19 and implementing systematic supports to address pandemic-associated educational harms are critical to minimizing the overall impact and supporting recovery.

Improving Transitions for Indigenous Learners through Collaborative Inquiry

Source: Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

Summary: The Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN) has been a catalyst for change in British Columbia schools since 2009. Based on the initiative of Dr. Trish Rosbourgh, then Director of Aboriginal Education in the Ministry of Education, this network was designed to be a strategy through which school districts could more effectively and productively engage in bringing their Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements to life (Rosborough, Halbert & Kaser, 2017). The purpose of the AESN is “to create an inquiry community where people learn and work together to ensure that every Indigenous learner crosses the stage with dignity, purpose and options, and together, we eliminate racism in schools”.

The goal of this particular research investigation would be to determine how an inquiry-based focus on student transitions — elementary to secondary, middle school to secondary school, secondary school to post-secondary school, secondary school to employment — would help us to better support Indigenous learners and equip them for purposeful and successful lives, while also demonstrating the catalytic effects of this network as a means of affecting professional change.

Calmer Classrooms: A Guide to Working with Traumatized Children

Source: Child Safety Commissioner, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Summary: This booklet assists Kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers, and other school personnel in understanding and working with children and young people whose lives have been affected by trauma. The majority of such children will have come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, although some of them will have suffered as refugees, or experienced war or dislocation overseas. An even smaller number will have experienced illness, painful medical interventions, or one-off traumas such as disasters or accidents. Calmer Classrooms particularly addresses the needs of children who have been traumatized by abuse and neglect. These children may be involved in the child protection and family support systems. Some may not be able to remain in the care of their families and are living in foster care or other forms of state care.

Research Report No. 2 on Good Practice Using ESD ( Education for Sustainable Development)

Source: York University, Ontario, Canada

Summary: This second research initiative focused on collecting relevant examples of good practice that are based on ESD approaches, i. e. changing content and/or pedagogy.

In the examples of good practice, describing the rationale for the intervention, methodology, the specific role of ESD, and why it was deemed as successful, were essential components of the reports from researchers. It was planned to develop overall conclusions for future education policies and practices.

The Research Report focusing on the potential of quality education and ESD practices to contribute to the ‘COVID-19 recovery and Indigenous Peoples’ was shared with the Special Rapporteur for on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the report to the Human Rights Council at its 48th session in September 2021.

The Research Report including the Annex with 32 practices is available for download. Formal publication is to follow during 2021.

Infusing Indigenous Knowledge And Epistemologies: Learning From Teachers In Northern Aboriginal Head Start Classrooms

Source:  Stagg Peterson, S., Jang, S. Y., San Miguel, J., Styres, S., & Madsen, A. (2018). McGill Journal of Education / Revue Des Sciences De l’éducation De McGill, 53(1). Retrieved from

Summary:  Five Aboriginal Head Start early childhood educators from a northern Canadian community participated in interviews for the purpose of informing non-Indigenous teachers’ classroom teaching. Their observations and experiences highlight the importance of learning from and on the land alongside family members, and of family stability and showing acceptance of all children. Additionally, participants talked of the impact of residential schools on their families in terms of loss of their Indigenous language, and their attempts to learn and to teach the children in their classrooms the Indigenous languages and teachings. 

What matters in Indigenous education: Implementing a Vision Committed to Holism, Diversity and Engagement

Source: People for Education

Summary: Dr. Pamela Toulouse explores an Indigenous approach to quality learning environments and the Measuring What Matters competencies and skills. The paper draws out the research, concepts and themes from Measuring What Matters that align with Indigenous determinants of educational success. It expands on this work by offering perspectives and insights that are Indigenous and authentic in nature.


For researchers: Doing Indigenous research in a good way

Source: Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador

Summary: This FAQ is based on questions we, as Indigenous researchers, advisors and administrators, often hear or wish researchers knew more about. When using this guide, keep in mind that “Indigenous groups” and “Indigenous peoples” are terms that cover immense diversity and answers to these questions will be different for each nation, government, governing body and group. In short, this FAQ is not the definitive answer to these questions so much as a guide that can help researchers start the journey to answering them. These questions should always be answered by the specific places, groups and/or governing bodies you wish to work with. There is no universal answer.

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