It seems that these past few weeks discussions, as well as my research, has been setting me towards similar paths in searching for solutions to help promote Indigenous learning in education. While student choice over content and project delivery have always increased engagement, I’ve come to realize how projects that provide a real voice and personal narrative are particularly important to Indigenous students. Moreover, although the content might not fit neatly within the confines of western learning outcomes, with vision, resources, and risk tasking (both on the part of teachers/facilitators and students) new programs can take flight like N’We Jinan and could contribute towards school credits and ultimately student/youth success.
But as I was researching for solutions to education barriers I was also frequently reminded of the successes many Indigenous youths have enjoyed. Too often the media is used to only highlight the issues and problems facing indigenous communities, but rarely highlights the remarkable and impactful ways these youths are empowering themselves and/or their communities. From Ashley Callingball who was the first Canadian and first First Nations to win Miss Universe, to musical talents such as Tanya Tagag and Leonard Sumner, to activists like Tracie Leost.
The average Canadian impression of Indigenous communities in crisis is not limited to youth, but for most Canadians, expands outward to all of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. This perspective needs to shift, and quickly, in order to accommodate the change that is coming with regards to “…Canada’s indigenous people’s involvement in the economic growth of this country; the initiatives they have under way for preparing the large numbers of indigenous youth poised to enter Canada’s labour force; or even the names of two or three aboriginal organizations achieving remarkable success with their enterprises.” (Calliou, 2012).
In addition, “By 2020, there is estimated to be a shortfall of one million workers in Canada, mostly in high skilled and knowledge-oriented occupations” and “In Canada, the Aboriginal population is the fastest growing demographic in Canada. It’s growing at roughly twice the annual rate of the general population. In the next 15 years, more than 400,000 Aboriginal young people will reach labour-market age” (Charleyboy, 2017).
So unbeknownst to many Canadians, improving the Community well-being of Inuit and First Nations and repairing the western education system to be more inclusive to Indigenous learners is not solely for their benefit alone, but also selfishly for Canadians as well if they wish to keep Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus’ trend of a successful and prosperous Canadian economy.
Calliou, B. (2012, October 15). Let’s hear more indigenous success stories. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/lets-hear-more-indigenous-success-stories/article4610389/?arc404=true
Charleyboy, L. (2017, October 11). The Problem with Aboriginal Education in Canada and what you can do about it. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://www.jobpostings.ca/career-guides/aboriginal/problem-aboriginal-education-canada-and-what-you-can-do-about-it
From music to helping others Indigenous youth take the lead. (2017, June 09). Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/from-music-to-helping-others-indigenous-youth-take-the-lead-1.4152032
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada – 2017–18 Departmental Plan. (2017, March 09). Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1483561566667/1483561606216
Morin, B. (2016, January 14). 16 Indigenous movers and shakers to watch in 2016. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://aptnnews.ca/2016/01/14/16-indigenous-movers-and-shakers-to-watch-in-2016/