Changing the way Canadian students experience Indigenous history
The history of Indigenous Canadians is not accurately reflected in the majority of Canadian history textbooks. Too often Indigenous people and their history have been portrayed in damaging ways, or worse, not portrayed at all.
This is why the MFI has made it a priority to make Indigenous history, culture, and traditions in Canada a national topic inside the classroom and among youth. In this way, we can lead social change to ensure that more Canadians are aware of – and equipped to – take action on the issues facing Indigenous people in Canada.
Bringing Indigenous realities to light
Over the last five years, the MFI has worked in partnership with Free The Children to change the national discourse surrounding Indigenous Canadians from one that is deficit based to one that is optimistic, enthusiastic, and asset based. By combining the MFI’s subject matter expertise and connections within Aboriginal communities with Free The Children’s experience in promoting youth engagement and empowerment, we have designed a program that engages students, educators, and individual Canadians in meaningful conversations in classrooms, communities, and through online forums. That program is called We Stand Together.
We Stand Together consists of ten days of learning and awareness on Indigenous history, culture, and tradition, as well as challenges and opportunities. It sheds light on current inequalities in Canada and engages non-Indigenous youth to explore this topic and draw attention to it in their schools and communities.
Since the program began, We Stand Together has helped Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from across Canada learn the significance and value of Indigenous history, culture, and traditions, and has brought these students a deeper understanding of the realities that contemporary Indigenous people face.
We Stand Together aims to:
Be non-political and youth-friendly–it is designed to create empathy and understanding
Provide tools for young people to actively support their Indigenous peers in improving their access to education
Help educators meet curriculum requirements
Provide interest and encouragement for students to further explore Indigenous culture and history
- Always be created through collaboration with experts on the topic and Indigenous representatives to ensure that all materials reflect their experiences and views
Almost 1,000,000 students across Canada and still growing
Through the work of full-time coordinators, the provision of lesson plans, youth-friendly content online, Daily Facts, outreach speeches, and the mobilization of a Canada-wide network of participants, the campaign has experienced tremendous growth. In the past two years, program participation has increased 92%. Approximately 3,500 schools have brought the We Stand Together curriculum to almost 1,000,000 students across Canada since the program began.
In addition to the year-over-year participation growth, the evaluation of the campaign’s effectiveness and outcomes showcases its continued value:
90% of educators said they would recommend the use of campaign materials to colleagues
85% of educators reported that students had a greater understanding of Indigenous culture, history, rights, challenges, and traditions as a result of the campaign
- 91% of youth intend to continue to engage in learning and/or action on Indigenous issues in their communities