Indigenous Top Ten

February 27, 2013

Hamilton-area First Nation pursues human rights complaint over special education funding

A Hamilton-area First Nation is moving ahead with a human rights complaint against the federal government over funding for special education for on-reserve children. Mississaugas of the New Credit Chief Bryan Laforme says his First Nation does not get enough funding "to cover the needs in our own school." Ottawa funds on-reserve schools at a rate of about one-third less per student than what provincial schools receive, a disparity that hits particularly hard when it comes to assisting children with special needs, Laforme says. He says children from his First Nation who have special education needs have to leave the community to get the services they require. No date has been set for the complaint to be heard. In related news, there is currently a hearing underway at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal focused on First Nations child welfare. The complaint was brought forward by the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, who argue that Ottawa discriminates against First Nations in funding for child welfare. CBC | Globe and Mail

FSIN holds forum on First Nations education

Last week the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations hosted a 3-day conference to discuss how to maximize jobs and PSE opportunities for First Nations youth in the province. A youth panel explored challenges facing PSE students, while another panel identified industry needs. Education leaders shared their vision for First Nations PSE training on another panel. FSIN Vice Chief Simon Bird says practical solutions can help address the Aboriginal unemployment rate. For example, a joint task force of FSIN and the Saskatchewan government recommended that First Nations schools should be able to offer driver's education training like provincial schools. As for the low Aboriginal high school graduation rate, Bird says part of the problem lies in policy cuts, but the major issue is a lack of funding. He thinks funding comparable to the provincial school system would be a great start. Canadian Press | Regina Leader-Post | CKOM

We Stand Together campaign supports Aboriginal education

February 12 marked the kick-off of the third annual We Stand Together campaign, an initiative brought forward by Free The Children and the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative that will see students, educators, and parents across Canada learn about the challenges, achievements, and contributions of Canada's Indigenous peoples. The 10-day campaign (February 25-March 8, 2013) will see Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller participate in a cross-Canada speaking tour, visiting schools, and sharing her story with thousands of students. Teachers will leverage resources, lesson plans, and daily facts to educate their students about Aboriginal history, culture, and traditions, as well as the present challenges and opportunities in Aboriginal education. The goal is to create a dialogue for students to share with family and friends, sparking greater awareness of Canadian history. Free The Children/MAEI News Release | AFN News Release

Inuit start crafting framework for collaboration on Inuit education research

Inuit from Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut met at Iqaluit's Nakasuk School last week to discuss data collection and research priorities for Inuit education and start crafting a framework for research to address the recommendations of First Canadians, Canadians First: The National Strategy on Inuit Education. About 35 Inuit researchers, as well as representatives from Inuit organizations, governments, and school boards, spent a day and a half exploring how research on Inuit education should be conducted and some of the priority areas for research. The research team, who had examined more than 300 published sources on Inuit and Indigenous education for the national strategy, noted that First Nations research dominated the literature. A handful of recent projects have started to address this gap, but evidence to inform policy discussions on Inuit education is still in its infancy. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatmi News Release

More BC Aboriginal students completing high school

The BC government reports that more Aboriginal students completed secondary school last year than ever before, building on more than a decade of steady improvement. The overall Aboriginal student completion rate for public and independent schools combined in 2011-12 was 56.4%, up from 53.7% in 2010-11 and 50.4% in 2009-10. During the past 10 years, high school completion rates among Aboriginal students have risen by nearly 14 percentage points. BC News Release

Regina schools piloting Aboriginal oral learning tool

The piloting of a new Aboriginal oral learning tool for young students has been expanded to 3 Regina community schools this year. Using story books, an iPad, and a turtle puppet named Aski, the program has been so successful for children that it is being developed further to assist with early numeracy education. Under the program, children talk with Aski and run the iPad application through his electrified nose. The children tell Aski what they like to do, how they like to learn, and that information is passed on to parents, teachers, and elders, who are also included in the learning process. Parents can also get extra activities to help with their child's learning. Aski is also being used in 3 other school divisions in Saskatchewan. Regina Leader-Post

Aboriginal graduation rate at highest level ever in Delta

The number of at-risk Aboriginal students in Delta, BC is on the decline while their graduation rate is at the highest level ever, according to findings recently reported to the Delta Board of Education. The 2012 annual report on Delta's Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement notes the district had a 67% graduate rate for First Nations students, which was once again higher than the BC average. Approximately 80% of those graduating go on to PSE within 2 years. The report notes all Aboriginal students surveyed are proud of their culture and heritage, and 80% of parents said they are satisfied with the Aboriginal cultural program. The report does identify some areas requiring improvement. The proportion of students who feel safe dropped from 85% in elementary school to 55% to 63% in high school. 20% of Aboriginal students report being bullied in school, compared to 10% of their non-Aboriginal peers. Just 35% to 45% feel that high school prepares them for the future and/or PSE, while just 60% of parents report satisfaction with the academic support provided by their child's school. Delta Optimist

Aboriginal student enrolment at uRegina up 15%

The University of Regina reports that self-declared Aboriginal undergraduate student enrolments at the institution have risen by 15%. Aboriginal students now represent 11% of the undergraduate study body at uRegina. uRegina News Release

Ontario throne speech touches on Aboriginal education and training

In its throne speech, delivered February 20, the Ontario government said that "Aboriginal communities must also have access to the tools and training they need to fully participate in economic development opportunities, including those related to our natural resources." The throne speech noted that the provincial government "is working with Aboriginal communities to ensure that the benefits of resource development are shared and opportunities for education, training and employment are established." Ontario Throne Speech

Saskatoon Public Schools outline plan to boost Indigenous students' academic success

Hiring more Aboriginal employees, boosting achievement test scores, and raising the graduation rate of Indigenous students are all goals of a plan to improve the fortunes of these students in Saskatchewan Public Schools. One of the goals -- a provincially mandated one -- is to halve the difference in graduation rates between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal students by 2020. That would mean more than doubling the school division's current Aboriginal student graduation rate in 7 years -- one of several goals administrators admit are ambitious. The division also aims for better scores in literacy and math skills evaluations. Administrators hope to see significant increases for Indigenous students on reading tests in the early grades, and increasingly more Indigenous students with an average or better performance on the Canadian Achievement Test (for math and reading comprehension). To make it happen, the school division will hire a speech language pathologist to work in schools with the most vulnerable Aboriginal kindergartners. Saskatoon StarPhoenix