Issue 103

Community Engagement

Source: Advocate for Children and Youth Province of Saskatchewan

Summary: Regrettably, the staggering rate of suicide amongst Indigenous children and youth in Saskatchewan is one indication that change is needed. This picture is appalling, showing that suicide rates in our province are 6 times higher for First Nations boys than non-First Nations boys aged 10 to 19, and 26 times higher for First Nations girls than non-First Nations girls of the same age. A cluster of suicides of six young girls in northern Saskatchewan in October 2016 is further evidence that immediate action is required. Our office is raising alarm bells regarding this situation. Our children deserve better.

The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth is an independent officer of the legislative assembly whose work is done under The Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2012. The Advocate’s mandate and authority is broad, yet specific, and includes advocacy for children and youth; investigations into any matter where children and youth receive services from any government, agency or publicly funded health entity; public education; and research. Our work and this project is grounded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), both of which are foundational to the Advocate’s office fundamental goal of being part of solutions that result in positive change in the quality of life for First Nations and Métis children in this province.

This project had two objectives… the first objective was to engage with Indigenous youth in northern Saskatchewan to better understand youth suicide from their perspective and to honour and reflect their voice as part of this understanding… The second objective of this report is to be a platform for the voices of these young people to be heard.

Exemplary Classroom Practice: Elementary

Source: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Focus: Grades 3 to 6

Summary: Find two lesson plans and related handouts, which complement the Turtle Island and Memory games by providing follow-up activities for the classroom. They focus on curriculum from across Canada regarding First Nations, Métis and Inuit history, culture, and heritage to Grades 3 to 6 students.

Exemplary Classroom Practice: Secondary

Source: Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Focus: Grade 9

Summary: In this unit … students will have an opportunity to investigate some of the many issues faced by Aboriginal people in Canada as well as learn where the various Native groups live. It will include a discussion of the history of the relationship between Aboriginal people and Canada (whether under British rule or modern day government) in order to understand the root of many of the issues. Specific focus will be given to access to health care, access to education, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and suicide, poverty and low living standards and limited economic opportunity.

The students will gain an understanding of the implications of past events on contemporary Aboriginal society; they will gain a sense of the complexity of Aboriginal issues and the solutions to those issues; they will analyze and interpret statistics and graphs; they will synthesize their own ideas through discussion and debate with other students and teacher led discussions; and they will write an editorial that evaluates the process of negotiating a resolution.

Multi Media

Source: Canadian Geographic
Focus: Secondary Students

Summary: Canadian Geographic Education has launched its first-ever Google Earth Voyager story, which addresses a dark chapter in Canada’s history: the residential school system.

Today, residential school survivors and their families are still struggling to heal. The aim of this Google Earth Voyager story is to educate, raise awareness and encourage all Canadians to learn more about residential schools, as well as to inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to work together towards reconciliation.

The Google Earth Voyager story weaves photographs and video links with firsthand accounts from residential school survivors. Quotes are taken directly from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report The Survivors Speak, which is filled with raw and moving testimonies about the horrors of the residential school experience.

Canada’s residential school system was a government-sponsored, church-run network of boarding schools aimed at assimilating Indigenous children by taking them away from their families and forcibly erasing their cultural identity. The first residential school opened its doors in 1831 and the last one, Gordon's Residential School in Saskatchewan, closed in 1996. Trapped in the system, children suffered emotional, mental and physical trauma. Many children never returned home, dying from disease or during attempts to run away.

Professional Development

Source: TVO Teach Ontario

Summary: In this installment of TeachOntario Talks, we are profiling and celebrating the tremendous effort by school boards and schools across the province as they work to move the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework into action.

Related Links

Source: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s Amaujaq National Centre for Inuit Education

Summary: Over the last year, the research project entitled “Foundations for Student Persistence and Success in Inuit Nunangat” has been working to address the question: what are the key factors contributing to the educational success of Inuit youth? This project involves university researchers and partner organizations including Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s Amaujaq National Centre for Inuit Education. To address the research question, a number of different methodologies have been used, including a case study in each of the four Inuit regions, a scan of existing practices of assessment of student achievement, and interviews with Inuit post-secondary students to understand their K-12 experience and how it contributed to their educational success.

In February 2017, in partnership with the Nunatsiavut Government and the University of Winnipeg we held an Inuit Education Forum – a gathering of Inuit educators from across Inuit Nunangat – in Nain, Nunatsiavut. In this gathering, Inuit educators shared their experience with what is helping students to thrive, both at the school and regional levels.  A few of the recommendations from the participants include:

  • Decision-making in schools should be shared to a greater extent as in traditional Inuit culture.
  • To ensure a larger proportion of teachers are Inuit or long-term northerners, there is a need for an expansion of community-based teacher training programs and reforms in how teachers are hired.
  • Improvements are needed in the working climate/culture of schools.
  • An expansion of innovative efforts that support parents in their interactions with schools is needed.
  • Culturally-relevant curricula should be further developed across Inuit Nunangat.
  • Land-based activities are seen as critical to ensuring culturally-relevant schooling in each region.
  • A greater proportion of class time should be devoted to Inuktitut instruction.
  • Schools in small communities need all the supports – for both students and teachers – that schools in large communities have in order for students to thrive.
  • Educators need more frequent opportunities to gather with other educators from across Inuit Nunangat to share their experiences.

The results shared in this paper echo decades of calls for Inuit control of a truly Inuit education system in which Inuit ways of knowing, being, and doing are reflected and celebrated, in which Inuit act as leaders, and in which Inuit students succeed.

Relevant Research

Source: Martha Moon, Paul Berger, Lakehead University

Summary: What does Indigenous student success look like in public school boards? Seven urban Indigenous educators’ interview responses to this question were interpreted and reported by the lead author, a teacher and researcher of English, Irish, and Scottish heritage - a Settler Canadian. The “Connected Beads Model” is the result of these educator-to-educator interviews. It shows how Indigenous students’ success can be promoted when Settler and Indigenous educators take a “We” stance alongside students, families, and communities through honoring story, relationship, and holism in school. The concepts embedded in the model and its practical applications are explored through participants’ quotations and considered alongside related literature on Indigenous education.