Tag Archives: education

Module 4 – Post # 5 ~ Graduation Rates Increasing; Still a Long Way to Go

High School Aboriginal Student Graduation rates are on the rise throughout western Canada British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan all report higher graduation rates. However, the graduation rates are still significantly lower (18% in BC) for Indigenous students when compared to non-indigenous peers, and the graduation rate of on-reserve schools is still lower.

Mainstream schools that have seen and increase in Aboriginal student graduation have worked to cultivated school climates that are culturally-responsive, that recognize the richness of Indigenous culture, offer specific courses with Aboriginal content and encourage teachers to use diverse teaching methods that Indigenous students are found to be more successful with.

Indeed, Tyron McNeil, President of the First Nations Education Steer Committee acknowledges that Indigenous students respond to more inclusive learning environments; and students like high school graduate Cauy Kealy note that affirmation of his cultural roots, and his teachers’ belief in him motivated him to graduate. Schools like Dryden High School in Ontario and Chetwynd Secondary School in BC have found the importance of not only reinforcing positive self-and-cultural-image, but also having an academic and life “coach” working with each individual student and their teachers had increase success rates.

Unfortunately, on reserve schools have even less graduates due to poor funding, teacher retention and teacher training, and many reserves do not have secondary schools at all. Students choose to remain home with family instead of moving away for high school.

Entry #18: Thunder Radio


Thunder Radio is an online podcast channel of the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre that is focused on First Nations education in Manitoba and in Canada as a whole.  There are currently 16 episodes on the online channel, covering topics including Indigenous Literature, Indigenous Knowledge, and Virtual Learning on Reserves.  This resource provides glimpses into current topics in Indigenous education through the eyes of Indigenous educators, students, and other contributors.  The list of official podcast followers is online, so there is also the potential for listeners to connect with one another across communities.  This oral medium is important for stimulating discussion regardless of time and place, enabling listeners to engage with the information as if they were being told a story or conversing with someone right in front of them.

Entry #17: Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence


The Centre of Excellence was created by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations with the intention of supporting First Nations communities in Saskatchewan in “creating opportunities for the innovative, sustainable and environmentally responsible development of the natural resources within their lands and Indigenous territories.”  The work of this centre speaks to the importance of holistic learning, collaborative relationships, and sustainability in the First Nations worldview.  Their work captures some of the main issues facing First Nations people in Saskatchewan, namely, environmental protection, educational engagement, and economic livelihood.  While the site does not link directly to external resources, it does provide a listing of the centre’s partners, including Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, and The National Energy Business Centre of Excellence.

Entry #16: CBC News – Saskatchewan Graduation Rates


These two articles from CBC examine the trends in graduation rates in Saskatchewan. With Aboriginal student graduation rates lower than non-Aboriginal students, other issues raised for discussion include social circumstances and budgetary constraints. Engagement has been identified as a key element to providing a higher quality of education for First Nations and Métis students. These articles help to explain some of disparity in postsecondary attendance rates, and subsequently, opportunities for advancement for Aboriginal youth. The articles also link to similar articles from slightly different perspectives regarding the graduation rate research.

The need for supporting Indigenous students from the top down and the ground up. (Mod 4- Post 1-5)

Watching the interview with Tim Michel sparked my ideas for discussion for Web Blog Module 4 because the connections he made about the lack of understanding and foresight surrounding Indigenous post-secondary education connects with the area of my group’s research about Indigenous students in STEM/STEAM education and careers. Michel mentions that a career fair, he witnessed universities continually asking prospective students to sign up to their mailing lists.  He realized after discussion with many of the Aboriginal students that about 40% didn’t have an email, couldn’t access e-mail, or didn’t have access to a computer at home. It seems there is still quite a disconnect between post-secondary education and our indigenous communities.  We can commend many Canadian universities for reducing barriers Indigenous students face, one of which is financial, by providing substantial scholarships and bursaries to help financially support Indigenous students.  Moreover, the government of Canada “To ensure that First Nation and Inuit students have the same opportunities for success as other Canadian students… …will increase funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program by $90 million over two years, beginning in 2017–18.”  This is in addition to “[t]he current budget for the Post-secondary Student Support Program is $340 million which supports approximately 23, 000 First Nation and Inuit Students.”

For more details click here

However, the focus on providing financial means is a bit like putting the cart before the horse if we are unable to support Indigenous youth completing high school with the checklist of requirements, or even at all.

The Canadian labour market is critically understaffed in many technological fields.  So much so, that many fortune 500 companies are hiring students before they even graduate and starting them with a six-figure income.  Yet despite this, universities are finding lower enrollments in STEM/STEAM courses like computer science. (CBC News)

In an article by Ellie Bothwell from Times Higher Education, she discusses how Canadian Universities can bring more Indigenous Peoples and knowledge. In her article, she notes that “Aboriginal people are the fastest-growing demographic in Canada. More than 1.6 million people – or 4.9 percent of the country’s total population – self-identify as indigenous, according to the 2016 National Household Survey, representing a 42.5 per cent increase since 2006.”

Universities need Indigenous peoples. To help fill out a workforce in STEM/STEAM careers is just one of the many reasons why.  But not enough is being done prepare and provide skills for Indigenous students.  A report by Randstad looks at Canada’s technical shortage and addresses the need to expand the talent pool to more individuals.  Randstad notes: “Statistics for STEM skills among Aboriginal people are even more discouraging. In 2013, 10 percent of the total working-age population of Aboriginals had a university degree compared with 26 percent of the non-Aboriginal population. Making up 3.7 percent of the adult population, only 2.6 percent of people with a post-secondary degree are Aboriginal. Clearly doing more to promote the study of STEM-related disciplines among the Aboriginal population is necessary. As the study points out, the inclusion of people with diverse perspectives, experiences, and ideas creates a wider talent pool with deeper assets. ” (p. 5).

What we can see in statistics is reiterated in the academic research and literature and that is the need to couple Indigenous knowledge with 21st-century learning in order to increase the success rate of Aboriginal learners. As Munroe, Borden, Orr, Toney, and Meader (2013) write that it’s essential “to ensure that Aboriginal children maintain their cultural identity while achieving their formal education” and  “that schools that respect and support a child’s culture and language demonstrate significantly better outcomes for students” (p. 319).

Click the following articles for more on culturally response education.

Munroe, Elizabeth Ann; Lisa Borden,; Anne Orr,; Denise Toney,; Jane Meader,. “Decolonizing Aboriginal Education in the 21st Century.” McGill Journal of Education (Online). McGill Journal of Education. 2013.

Nicol, C., Archibald, J., & Baker, J. (2013). Designing a model of culturally responsive mathematics education: Place, relationships and storywork. Mathematics Education Research Journal (Springer), 25, 73-89.

That’s why programs like ANCESTOR (AboriginNal Computer Education through STORytelling) are not only successful but essential.  Students at LÁU,WELNEW Tribal School in Brentwood Bay have animate stories that hold meaning to them and in return, produce outstanding results. As their teacher notes: “Translating arm and arrow movement into animation involved an incredible level of problem-solving and I’ve seen it spill into other parts of his education such as improvement in math. He has turned into the classroom problem-solver,”. For more information on the ANCESTOR project, review the link below.

Weston M., Biin D. (2015) The Ancestor Project: Aboriginal Computer Education Through Storytelling. In: Isaías P., Spector J., Ifenthaler D., Sampson D. (eds) E-Learning Systems, Environments and Approaches. Springer, Cham



Continuing the journey

Throughout this course I have been really opening my eyes to resources that are coming directly from Indigenous communities or community members, that are being shared out into the “mainstream media”, and that can be utilized in our education system. I have been looking for articles and resources that open up the conversation and that help to bridge communities.

I have been having great discussions with colleagues within my school community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and these conversations include resources, topics for discussion, and areas for further investigation. Taking the time to seek out information and resources has certainly opened my eyes to concerns I was unaware of, and has given me more perspective.  I am looking forward to continuing this journey and seeking out additional resources and information to support the curriculum and all of our students.


Post 1 – The Water Walker

This CBC news article, and the book to which it speaks, is helping look at clean water from an Aboriginal woman’s perspective. It is based on actual events that “marries the First Nations’ sense of oneness with the natural world with 21st century concerns for the environment” and written and illustrated by AnishinaabKwe author Joanne Robertson.




Post 2 – Home Economics and Culture

This article is from the November 3 Langley Times and brings forward an interesting and controversial topic. When educators are bringing in Indigenous practices, in this case food sources and preparation, into a high school classroom, controversy erupts. One practice is considered “inappropriate” by a group, while many comments (on social media….) support this teachers’ decision. They speak to the hypocrisy that our Home Economics classes can use beef or chicken in their cooking, but when it comes to something such as rabbit, it is inappropriate. Cultural practices collide. I am looking forward to the discussion that evolves from this.


Post 3 – First Nations Child & Family Caring Society



This site provides a number of educational activities to help support children and families. With links to books, digital resources, and films (to name a few), educators have resources to “touch on several topics in Indigenous history and culture, an aim to broaden perspectives and encourage critical thinking”.


Post 4 Native Lit and Culture

Twitter @NDNLit 


Native Lit and Culture is a bi-weekly newsletter on Indigenous literature and culture. While from New Mexico, posts on their website and blog highlight a variety of issues, challenges and opportunities of Indigenous peoples all around the world. They share resources, poetry, books, and other website that share culture and a variety of perspectives to keep conversations and awareness happening.

Post 5 – Youth, Technology, and Empowerment


Continuing with our discussion of youth and technology, I have found several links to stories where Indigenous youth are making a difference and sharing their stories through social media, film, music. These youth are sharing their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives and putting it out into the world.






Module 3 Post 3 (Makoon’s Media Group)

The organization is both a content producer as well as a service provider for Indigenous communities. There goal is to create a digital story platform-space that gives voice for new expressions that expose settler culture and the decolonization practice.

As part of their work, they have constructed the portal Indian and Cowboy, which is a website that hosts numerous podcasts and resources for aspiring Indigenous media producers. The site encourages submissions or pitches from members. Below are direct links for some of the featured podcasts with brief explanations. However, I encourage you to check out all of the content. I have highlighted the three that I have been able to listen to.

Red Man Laughing

In this series, Host and comedian Ryan McMahon challenges the notion of reconciliation by arguing that before any reconciliation can happen decolonization must be the placed as the primary discourse for Indigenous communities.


Stories from the Land

This series focuses on the connections, intersections and inseparability between Indigenous cultures and the land they collaborate with. The series also explores the philosophical difference between settler resource exploitation and Indigenous holism.


Think Indigenous

In cooperation with the University of Saskatchewan, Indian and Cowboy have created this mini series for teacher education programs and practicing educators. The series explores the possibilities of Indigenous focused education efforts. The series features educators explaining their experience working with Indigenous youth and explores what they believe to be best practice.

Module 3 Weblog – Kathryn Williams (née Gardner)

  1. Persistence of women and minorities in STEM field majors: Is it the school that matters? Amanda L. Griffith

Grittish, A, L. (2010). Persistence of women and minorities in STEM fields majors; Is it the school the matters? Economics of Education Review, 29(6), 911-922.


Griffith explains that there is a gap between the representation of women and minorities in STEM fields post-university compared to the numbers of men or majority groups. She argues that this is due to two reasons: first, women and minorities are less likely to choose STEM subjects to study at university and second, they are less likely than men and majority groups to remain in that major until graduation. Her study looks at the impact of their previous educational experiences, impact on their post graduate choices and selections, the influence that female professors have on female students and minorities graduation rates in STEM fields. 

  1. Aboriginal woman defies odds in science – Derek Sankey, Calgary Herald


This article focusses on Indigenous woman Becky Cook, who grew up in Manitoba. She attended the University of Manitoba and now works as a geophysicist. Cook attributes her success to community support. She now mentors young Indigenous girls and tries to make them more aware of the options available to them post-high school. While researching Indigenous women in STEM careers, I have found several articles like this one which highlight an Indigenous woman who has overcome many barriers to achieve success in STEM subjects. The articles, like the one above, are often inspirational. I find these articles very interesting but they led me to ask more questions. When will there be fewer barriers in the way Indigenous women achieving success in these fields? How can the norms be changed so that an Indigenous woman achieving success in scientific or mathematical careers is no longer newsworthy and becomes the norm?

  1. Implementing Meaningful STEM Education with Indigenous Students & Families


This website suggests many practical tools for including Indigenous knowledge systems in STEM subjects in the classroom. A very simple tool which is highly recommended is ‘observation of the natural world.’ Further recommendations include connecting STEM subjects to the everyday community responsibilities of Indigenous students, inviting guest speakers into the classroom and taking children outside school to have different experiences.

  1. Putting Raven Back Together Again – Case Study


This case study describes the experiences of students who took part in the Native Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Summer Camp in Seattle in July 2015. Taking the original STEM subjects, this camp combined them with the Arts. Campers were encouraged to think deeply about their surroundings whilst celebrating the Indigenous way of knowing. The camp used Indigenous stories and combined them with modern sciences. They gave the example of mischievous Raven being thrown off a cliff and the environmental consequences that followed and connected this to modern human caused environmental problems and drought. The program developers noticed that there were not very many science-oriented camps for Indigenous kids and that is why the camp was set up, as the organizers believe it will help increase Indigenous student achievement as well as their overall well-being.

  1. Alberta Women in Science Network – https://www.awsn.org/

The Alberta Women in Science Network (AWSN) assists STEM outreach programs to share resources and support each other to achieve shared goals. The network’s vision is equal opportunity for all in STEM. Developed in 1994, AWSN has advanced STEM opportunities for young girls and has helped women in STEM careers to share resources. The network also recognized that Indigenous people were underrepresented in the STEM fields and developed programs that were specifically geared towards them. For example, the Power to Choose program gives Indigenous youths in grades 7-12 the knowledge and power to choose a career and encourages them to stay in school to achieve these goals. The three pillars of the organization are: recruitment – encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue their interest in STEM; retention – helping STEM-trained professionals to find and retain work in their fields; and recognition – recognizing excellence in STEM pursuits.


Solutions for Aboriginal Education or Aboriginal Education AS the solution? (Mod 3, Post 1-5)

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).

Image result for 2020 aboriginal youth in workforce canadaImage result for stats can Community well-being scores, 1981–2011

Source: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada – 2017–18 Departmental Plan

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/

Indigenous Veterans

Module 3

Post 1

As we prepare to honour our veterans and current members of the armed forces, our school has being acknowledging the diversity of those who serve or have served for our freedoms. For our Remembrance Day assembly, students will be honouring Indigenous individuals who sacrificed for Canada. One of our Grade 6 teachers shared this video we me, by Gordon Powell;  a tribute to these brave soldiers.



Post 2

The second resource is from Veteran’s Affairs Canada and is entitled, Remembrance Moments: Canada’s Indigenous Veterans



Opening up my eyes to the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and seeing that they sacrificed so much for the very country that did not treat them with the respect and recognition they deserved. Taking the time to acknowledge and honour these individuals and groups is important for our students.


Post 3

Veteran’s Affairs Canada also has a site dedicated to Indigenous Veterans. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/those-who-served/indigenous-veterans

This site provides a number of resources and learning activities for elementary, middle and high school students.

I was surprised to learn that Aboriginal Veteran’s Day is commemorated on November 8.


Post 4

Indigenous War Heroes – Secondary School Teacher’s Guide

I continued looking for resources related to November 8, Aboriginal Veteran’s Day and came across this guide for Secondary Teachers.



Post 5

 Continuing my search for more resources, I found this Indigenous Inquiry Kit Created and Written by Tamara Hancock

“War and Remembrance: Aboriginal Veterans and Their Contributions to War Efforts from World War I to the Present”. It is for the middle school level and has students examine Indigenous veterans contributions through a variety of cross curricular activities.

Aboriginal War Veterans and Their Contributions to War Efforts