Issue 105

Community Engagement

Source: Prosper Canada Centre for Financial Literacy

Summary: Over 1.4 million Aboriginal people live in urban, rural and remote communities across Canada. These comprise three distinct self-identified Aboriginal groups with diverse cultures, languages, and spiritual beliefs: First Nations (over 60 per cent), Métis (32 per cent), and Inuit (just over 4 per cent).

Overall, the Aboriginal population is young and represents the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population. In 2011, the median age among Aboriginal peoples was 28 years old, compared to 41 years for Canada’s non-Aboriginal population.

Many Aboriginal people experience multiple socioeconomic barriers that affect their quality of life. This includes low-income, challenges to finding and maintaining employment, and lower average levels of educational attainment than Canadians overall.

However, there has been a considerable increase in educational attainment among Aboriginal peoples over the last decade. Aboriginal women with a Bachelor’s degree now have higher median incomes than non-Aboriginal women with the equivalent degree.

Aboriginal entrepreneurship is also on the rise, increasing 38 per cent between 2001 and 2006, a rate five times higher than that of Canadians overall.

These trends offer unique opportunities for Aboriginal led financial literacy initiatives to help build financial wellness in Aboriginal communities and families.

Exemplary Classroom Practice: Elementary

Source: St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia
Focus: Elementary +

Summary: Show Me Your Math is a program that invites Aboriginal students in Atlantic Canada to explore the mathematics that is evident in their own community and cultural practices. Through exploring aspects of counting, measuring, locating, designing, playing, and explaining, students discover that mathematics is all around them and is connected to many of the cultural practices in their own communities. Each year students gather for the annual math fair and celebrate the work they have done.

Exemplary Classroom Practice: Secondary

Source: St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia
Focus: Secondary

Summary: Mawkina’masultinej: Let’s Learn Together! is a series of inquiry projects that draw on Mi’kmaw community culture. The ideas for these projects have come from students’ Show Me Your Math submissions and from conversations with elders in Mi’kmaw communities. While the projects are designed to emphasize the mathematics learning, they are cross curricular and are designed to engage students in collaborative inquiry into relevant topics.

  • Eels and eel fisheries
  • Quill boxes and Quill work
  • Beadwork
  • Birch Bark Biting
  • Indigenous Languages
  • Snow shoes
  • Basket making
  • Maple Syrup
  • Bees

Media

As principal, Ms. Michael has introduced several initiatives and programs to foster and support the success of her students.

In 2016, Ms. Michael, as principal of Ermineskin Elementary School, an institution providing Nêhiyawewin education for approximately 470 students from the four nations in Maskwacis, Alberta applied for the Martin Family Initiative's Model Schools Literacy Project (MSLP), a program that supports literacy education and achievement for Indigenous students from kindergarten to Grade 3.  All First Nations schools across Canada were eligible, but only six were selected. Ermineskin Elementary was selected due in part to the strength and commitment of Ms. Michael's leadership.

Ms. Michael introduced The Leader in Me program, a method of teaching students to see themselves as capable leaders. Since the implementation of the program, students have become more active, engaged partners in their education and have gained greater self-confidence as leaders.

Ms. Debbie Michael received the BMO Celebrating Women Award for Community & Charitable Giving.

With humility and an unwavering commitment to excellence, Ms. Michael continues to be an inspiration to her students and an outstanding community leader.

Multi Media

Source: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Aaron Peters
Focus:  Secondary students

Summary: A video song production that provides the opportunity for discussion on the effects of Residential Schools. 

In the follow up video the singer/songwriter is asked, “How do you think your song has impacted Indigenous/ Canadian relations?”.

Professional Development

Source: Indspire and the Limestone District School Board
Focus: K- 8

Summary: The time has come to recognize the richness of First Nation, Métis and Inuit worldviews and cultures. Students need the opportunity to access accurate information in order to learn about and appreciate the diversity of First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples. They need to know about and to respect contemporary and traditional First Nation, Métis and Inuit cultures and perspectives so that they can be well-informed, socially responsible citizens.

Learning about First Nation, Métis and Inuit worldviews, cultures, issues, histories and peoples across the curriculum will enrich all students. Such learning is especially valuable for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students. When they see themselves represented in schools in accurate, respectful and meaningful ways, they will find greater meaning in their school experience. As educators, we need to engage First Nation, Métis and Inuit students more effectively through meaningful content and pedagogy.

This document provides linkages to the existing K-8 curriculum. The linkages provide a developmentally appropriate set of activities. The goal is to provide students with meaningful experiences about First Nation, Métis and Inuit cultures, histories, and perspectives. We want students to experience a wide-range of activities across subject areas. First Nation, Métis and Inuit content and perspectives should be interwoven throughout the curriculum and not restricted to particular units. In this process, teachers need to be aware that students will need to unlearn stereotypical images and views of Canada’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples as well as develop accurate, positive images.

Related Links

Source: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Summary: Introduction: First Nation kindergarten to grade 12 education
The Government of Canada recognizes that enhancing First Nation education is a fundamental part of renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples. First Nation children and youth deserve culturally appropriate, high-quality education that meets their needs while respecting the principle of First Nations control of First Nation education.

The government is committed to supporting the renewal of a nation-to-nation fiscal relationship with First Nations that provides sufficient, predictable, and sustained funding for essential programs and services. The goal of this renewed fiscal relationship is to improve economic and social outcomes for First Nation peoples, and to eliminate disparities and inequities between First Nations and other Canadians.

To this end, the government is working with First Nations to develop and implement positive changes and to establish a new partnership on First Nation elementary and secondary education. Budget 2016 announced an unprecedented funding increase of $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary education on reserve. This includes support for the transformation of education systems with the aim of improving education outcomes for First Nation children.

This investment is only a first step, as the Government of Canada is engaging with First Nation partners to make further improvements in education.

Relevant Research

Source: Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS)

Summary: TNC Canada is excited to share a recent study Taking Care of What We Know, a participatory evaluation of the SEAS Community Initiative. Please download and read the study to learn more about the impact the program is having.

The study has confirmed what we’ve long known: SEAS is a powerful and impactful program making a real difference in the lives of First Nation youth and their communities.
Key findings from the evaluation tell us that:

  • SEAS positively impacts youth in six key areas: leadership, school performance, character development, opportunity, connection to territory and culture, and health and wellness
  • SEAS successfully engages, develops and prepares Indigenous youth to become the next generation of leaders and stewards in their communities
  • SEAS provides youth with benefits that extend well beyond the development of skills and qualities linked to stewardship and leadership
  • SEAS is effective because the program is flexible and responsive to each Nation’s priorities
  • SEAS is successful because youth have access over multiple years and through different types of interventions (internship, school program)
  • SEAS has far-reaching positive impacts at the community level in four key areas: community well-being, cultural resurgence, community capacity, and economic opportunities

Video: SEAS Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards Community Initiative