Tag Archives: well being

Strength-based programs for Indigenous youth

For my final weblog, I wanted to include some of the articles and resources that I have found helpful for my final project. I realized as I started working on it that I needed to look at programs and activities that have data to support their effectiveness. Many of these links are focused on if and how strength-based programs and extra-curricular activities can be beneficial for Indigenous Youth in Canada.

1. Uniting our Nations

I came across this program while reading an article by Crooks, Chiodo and Thomas (2009). Their article presents information about strength-based programs that are aimed at building and improving school engagement for Indigenous Youth. This article is particularly important for my final project because they presented concrete successes and failures of the programs based on student participation and feedback. Uniting our Nations is a range of programs developed for Indigenous students in the Thames Valley District School Board in London, Ontario. The programs, which were developed in collaboration with Indigenous educators, students, counsellors, and community partners, include an elementary mentoring program, a secondary peer mentoring program, a grade 9 Four R Health program and a literacy test preparation program.

2. Engaging and Empowering Aboriginal Youth: a Toolkit for Service Providers

Another resource by Crooks, Chiodo and Thomas (2009) that I found interesting was this toolkit they developed. The objective was to explore how to make programs more relevant and empowering for Indigenous Youth. The information is broken down as such:

  • Section 1: Background and Overview
  • Section 2: Guiding Principles
    • Principle 1: Understanding and Integrating Cultural Identity
    • Principle 2: Increasing Youth Engagement
    • Principle 3: Fostering Youth Empowerment
    • Principle 4: Establishing and Maintaining Effective Partnerships
  • Section 3: Opportunities and Challenges in School-Based Prevention Programming
  • Section 4: Research and Evaluation

Focusing on the importance of a strengths-based approach in supporting Indigenous youth and helping them succeed, this toolkit uses case studies and analyses different programs to present ideas and strategies for how to create better programming.

3. McKellar Park Case Study

This article is a case study of the McKellar Park Central School in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where 50% of the students identify as First Nations. The school uses a strength-based approach in order to address issues of bullying and to support First Nations students. Of particular interest is their use of the Ambassador’s club, where students, selected by the staff, spend time with administration during selected lunch hours. They use the identified strengths to work on social skills and the students help come up with ways to improve certain aspects of their classes/school and to come up with activities for other students. The school also runs a New Experiences Program, in conjunction with the Children’s Centre Thunder Bay. Students meet once a week and parents/caregivers are invited. The workshops focus on the students’ needs, such as trauma, grief and coping skills. Both these programs have helped support First Nations students and have helped improve their school experience.

This paper presents the qualitative and quantitative data from the programs:

4. Participation in sports and cultural activities among Aboriginal children and youth

This article refers back to one of my links from the second module, the Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) of children and youth. Using information and data from the survey, Smith, Findlay and Crompton (2010) unpack the participation of Inuit, Metis and off-reserve First Nations children in sports and cultural activities. Participation is increased with regards to higher levels of parental education, time spent with Elders and involvement in other activities.

5. Tides Canada: Northern Well-Being

Tides Canada has a variety of initiatives aimed at encouraging northern leadership among young Indigenous peoples and fostering strong and healthy northern families. They also support the knowledge of natural resources in order to create sustainable communities. Their initiatives include: Arctic Funders Collaborative, Dene Nahjo, Northern Youth Leadership and Our Voices.

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/

Moving toward a future of reconciliation and respect

1. I found this website interesting from the perspective of an educator who would like to give students in the classroom an overview of the First Peoples of Canada. This virtual exhibition provides information about the different societies, languages and population percentages and distribution in Canada, before moving to “An Aboriginal Presence” which gives a short biography on many notable Canadian Indigenous peoples, including Alwyn Morris, a gold and bronze Olympic medalist, and Buffy Sainte-Marie, who co-wrote a song I loved when I was younger titled, “Up Where We Belong” among many others. Included in the virtual exhibition are traditional knowledges and artifacts, as well as origins and archaeology. While the exhibition provides more information than an educator might want to show students (it takes quite a while to read through all of the materials presented) I think it has the potential to be a valuable resource in the classroom. I personally enjoyed the sections “An Aboriginal Presence” (as it gave brief biographies of notable First Peoples) and “We Are the Land” (both knowledge and experience) the most.

First Peoples of Canada [virtual exhibition]. (n.d.). Canadian Museum of History. Retrieved 9 November, 2016, from: http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/aborig/fp/fpint01e.shtml

2. The next link is to the “Anishnawbe Health Toronto” website. I am including this website because during a previous weblog entry (Module 2 Weblog, link #3), I found an article by O’Sullivan (2013) titled, “Considering Culture in Aboriginal Care” (link: http://m.cmaj.ca/content/185/1/E27.full.pdf). O’Sullivan’s article highlighted the difficulties encountered by Indigenous patients in the Canadian health care system including a lack of feeling of safety, acceptance, empathy and respect. In contrast, Anishnawbe Heath Toronto appears to do the opposite by providing a community health centre based on traditional Indigenous knowledges and traditions; “AHT offers access to health care practitioners from many disciplines including Traditional Healers, Elders and Medicine People. Ancient ceremonies and traditions, intrinsic to our health care model are available.” The “Overview & History” page shares that Anishnawbe Health Resources was founded in 1984, based on the vision of Elder Joe Sylvester. What originally began as a diabetes project, expanded to encompass the needs of Aboriginal health care in Toronto using a model that is based on culture and traditions. Today the mission of Anishnawbe Health Toronto is “To improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal People in spirit, mind, emotion and body by providing Traditional Healing within a multi-disciplinary health care model.” I feel this is an important resource because it demonstrates for me how traditional Indigenous cultures, traditions, and knowledges can be integrated with the theories of western medicine to provide for the health and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. It emphasizes for me the fact that we need to integrate Indigenous knowledges into all aspects of Canadian society, not simply into our classrooms.

Anishnawbe Health Toronto. (2011). Retrieved 12 November, 2016, from: http://www.aht.ca/

*Citation for previous article as listed on Weblog entry for Module 2:
O’Sullivan, B. (2013). Considering culture in Aboriginal care. CMAJ, 185(1). Retrieved 10 October, 2016, from: http://m.cmaj.ca/content/185/1/E27.full.pdf

3. The following link is to a powerful, but often extremely painful selection of stories from survivors of residential schools in Canada. Each of the forty-seven stories on the site is told in the form of an interview. Each survivor has his or her own story, but there are common threads throughout many stories that include feelings of community and safety before they were taken away from their families to residential schools, fear and a lack of understanding when being taken to and arriving at residential schools, and of devastating trauma caused by the many different forms of abuse suffered while at residential schools. Each story demonstrates the profound impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples and their families, and the continued impact on their lives today. Please note before you watch any of these videos that there is a warning on the “Stories” home page due to the painful and disturbing subject matter in many of the videos. A contact number is provided on the home page for the Health Canada 24-Hour National Survivors Crisis Line if needed.

Residential School Survivor Stories. (n.d.). Legacy of Hope Foundation. Retrieved 10 November, 2016, from: http://wherearethechildren.ca/en/stories/

4. The following link is to a CBC News, “As It Happens”, written article and audio episode reporting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission summary report. The written summary provides information about the report and appeals for “a nation-wide commitment to reconciliation” as it exposes the abuse, deaths and continuing trauma suffered by those who were taken from their homes and forced to attend residential schools. The article includes a summary of key recommendations from the 381-page report. The audio is accessible by clicking on ‘Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem, it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us’ on the left side of the screen. In doing this, you will be able to listen to the entire “Truth and Reconciliation Commission summary report coverage” portion of the June 2, 2015 episode of “As It Happens” which is 15 minutes and 51 seconds in length. The episode includes much of the information given in the written article, as well as providing some of the testimonies from Residential School Survivors during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Off, C. and Douglas, J. (2015, June 2). Truth and Reconciliation Commission summary report coverage. As It Happens. Retrieved 9 November, 2016, from: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-tuesday-edition-1.3096950/reconciliation-is-not-an-aboriginal-problem-it-is-a-canadian-problem-it-involves-all-of-us-1.3097253

5. My final link is to a TEDx video titled “Changing the way we see Native Americans” that I found created hope. I was immediately drawn to this TEDx TeachersCollege talk by the opening video of a young Indigenous child watching video images of Indigenous peoples as they are portrayed by Hollywood and other major media sources. When Matika Wilbur began to talk, I was drawn to her message as well as the good and beauty that seemed to emanate from her. Her TEDx talk centered on the modern and mainstream view of Native Americans, based on stereotypical images that are created through major media sources. Her goal is to change the way that Native Americans are perceived. With this in mind, she created a project in 2013 called Project 562 which “seeks to photograph every Federally recognized tribe in the United States and reveal in a brilliant spectrum of art, media, and curricula, the rich and complex twenty-first century image and reality of contemporary Native Americans.” During her talk, Matika Wilbur questions, “How can we expect mainstream support for sovereignty, self-determination, nation-building, tribally-controlled education, health care and jobs, when 90% of Americans only view people, my people, as one dimensional stereotypes situated in the historic past, or even worse situated in their imaginations. I argue that we can’t.” (time stamp: 11:38). Matika seeks to create positive change by identifying contemporary Indigenous role models, and to connect us together so that we can learn to respect and honour one another.

Wilbur, M. (2014). Changing the way we see Native Americans [online video]. TEDx TeachersCollege. Retrieved 10 November, 2016, from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIzYzz3rEZU

Integration of First Nations Principles in Education

1) A common theme I have noticed when reading responses this past week has been around the lack of authentic resources available to educators to aid in the integration of First Nations principles in our school curriculums. The following provides a link to a publication of fnesc (First Nations Education Steering Committee) and FNSA (First Nations Schools Association) titled, Authentic First Peoples Resources: K-9. This resource was published in 2011, but was updated this year (2016). This is a lengthy publication that provides “Resource Annotations” detailing each resource in terms of title, author(s)/editor/compiler, illustrator(s), publisher, reading level, applicable curriculum areas, themes and topics, publication date and number of pages. In addition to this, the “Resource Annotations” chapter also provides a description, list of titles in the series (if applicable), and features of the text (i.e., text is in both English and Sm’algyax). There is also an “Index of Resources” (starts on p. 109) that gives a quicker summary of each resource including the title, nation(s), grade(s), resource topics and themes.

Authentic First Peoples Resources. (2011, updated 2016). Vancouver, B.C.: fnesc and FNSA
Retrieved 2 October, 2016, from: http://www.fnesc.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/PUBLICATION-61460-FNESC-Authentic-Resources-Guide-2016-08-26.pdf

My next four links are to resources that discuss the connection between culture, language and well-being in Indigenous populations. I am becoming increasingly interested in and concerned with the profound impact that the loss of culture and language is continuing to have on the health and well-being of Indigenous populations. Studies, like the one by Oster et al. (2014) referenced below, have shown that “the intergenerational effects of colonization continue to impact the culture, which undermines the sense of self-determination, and contributes to diabetes and ill health.” My focus is around how we, as educators, can begin to help First Nations children and youth reconnect with culture and language, in hopes of increasing connections, but at the same time decreasing the intimidation and alienation (O’Sullivan, 2013) felt in Indigenous communities.

2) McIvor, Napoleon, and Dickie (2009) report that there is an increasing amount of evidence showing that the continuity of language and culture in Aboriginal communities contributes positively to the health and well-being of Aboriginal people. However, the loss of culture and language due to colonization has had, and continues to have, a profoundly negative impact on the health and well-being of the Aboriginal population. McIvor et al. report that “all indigenous languages in Canada are seriously endangered and most are at risk of extinction (Brittain, 2002; Shaw, 2001; Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, 1990)” and “in the last 100 years alone, at least ten of Canada’s Aboriginal languages have become extinct (Norris, 1998).” Through their research, McIvor et al., found that there is hope in the form of “protective factors” to combat identified health issues, and that there is evidence that the use of languages and cultures contributes positively to the health and well-being of Aboriginal populations. The six themes that emerged were: land and health, traditional medicine, spirituality, traditional foods, traditional activities and language.

McIvor, O., Napoleon, A., & Dickie, K.M. (2009). Language and culture as protective factors for at-risk communities. Journal de la sante autochtone. Retrieved 10 October, 2016, from: http://www.naho.ca/jah/english/jah05_01/V5_I1_Protective_01.pdf

3) O’Sullivan’s (2013) article discusses issues around providing “culturally competent care” and a “culturally safe environment” for Aboriginal patients in our Canadian health care system. The article draws attention to the fact that many Aboriginal people “tend to avoid seeking medical care because of factors such as negative stereotypes and lingering racism.” O’Sullivan points out that health care professionals must be educated about cultural differences that exist, rather than assuming that all patients have the same basic needs and perspectives. Acknowledging Aboriginal knowledges and traditions, as well as showing empathy and respect, is essential in creating a safe and accepting environment for Aboriginal patients.

O’Sullivan, B. (2013). Considering culture in Aboriginal care. CMAJ, 185(1). Retrieved 10 October, 2016, from: http://m.cmaj.ca/content/185/1/E27.full.pdf

4) Oster, Grier, Lightning, Mayan, and Toth (2014) report their findings from a mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative data) study conducted in Alberta. Cree and Blackfoot leaders were interviewed, and data was collected from provincial and public sources representing thirty-one First Nations communities across Alberta. The data was used to determine if there was a link between cultural continuity and the prevalence of diabetes in First Nations communities. The findings were significant and showed a correlation between loss of language and culture and the prevalence of diabetes. Their powerful conclusion was “First Nations that have been better able to preserve their culture may be relatively protected from diabetes.”

Oster, R.T., Grier, A., Lightning, R., Mayan, M.J., & Toth, E.L. (2014). Cultural continuity, traditional Indigenous language, and diabetes in Alberta First Nations: a mixed methods study. International Journal for Equity in Health. Retrieved 12 October, 2016, from: http://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-014-0092-4

5) Jewell’s (2016) quantitative study provides an interesting analysis of data regarding the exposure and acceptance of Aboriginal languages in urban settings in Canada. Jewell discusses the fact that Indigenous languages are endangered, but that revitalization efforts are in effect in many communities. Jewell discusses the importance of language in the continuity of culture, as well as the effect of continuity of language and culture on the health and well-being of Indigenous people. Jewell draws attention to the fact that while an increasing number of Indigenous people have been moving to urban settings, the majority of language revitalization programs remain on-reserves (Baloy, 2011, as cited by Jewell), although language programs off-reserve are increasing. Jewell concludes that when there is exposure to Indigenous languages both inside and outside the home, an increased value is placed on the language. Jewell’s hope is that with increased value will come increased study, interest, and advocacy.

Jewell, E.M. (2016). Social exposure and perceptions of language importance in Canada’s urban Indigenous peoples. aboriginal policy studies, 5(2), pp. 99-113. Retrieved 13 October, 2016, from: https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/aps/article/download/25411/pdf

Media Smarts


 ‘In the 19th century, Métis leader Louis Riel predicted: “My people will sleep for one hundred years. When they awaken, it will be the artists who give them back their spirit.” Most Aboriginal groups in Canada have relied on the oral tradition to convey an idea, message or value.’

            – n.a. Media Smarts

Discusses FN successes with tv, film and theatre, music and radio neworks and the Internet. Although not specific to youth, the article gives a good overview of media, but also points to a game – Path of the Elders (http://www.pathoftheelders.com/index.php) by FN people and for FN children.

Post by Trevor Price

July 4, 2015

An article by Suzanne Stewart


“Education is urgent issue for our people right now because, again, education was once the tool of oppression. Now education is the tool for empowerment for our people, to help us learn how to adapt to the western world and for the western world to learn how to adapt to our traditional ways of teaching and learning.”

– OISE: Associate Professor Suzanne Stewart on Aboriginal Education (video) @ 50 sec.

 I followed the above link from a site that came up with a search for information related to my final assignment. I was impressed with the topics Stewart was writing about – the challenges faced by urban First Nations youth. Upon searching a little further, I discovered the following article, which details the outcomes of a project that involved aboriginal youth, health and media production. This article draws a very direct line between media production and aboriginal youth well being and, as such, supports my thesis.  It discusses a project that had aboriginal youth researching and creating media about healthy eating.

Stewart, S., Riecken, T., Scott, T., Tanaka, M., & Riecken, J. (2008). Expanding Health Literacy Indigenous Youth Creating Videos. Journal of Health Psychology13(2), 180-189. Retrieved from http://hpq.sagepub.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/content/13/2/180.full.pdf+html

Post by Trevor Price

July 4, 2015