Cheryl Jackson continues her video series with Aboriginal Education, Solutions for the future. The video is focused on the experience of communities around Thunder Bay. She visits a school that is fundamentally structured around First Nations Culture and students are seeing some success. She discusses successes and options for the future with Bentley Cheechoo, Director with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Lynnita Jo Guillet, Aborigianl Resource Teacher in Thunder Bay, and Ron Kanutski and social worker and Cultural Co-ordinator in Thunder Bay. All of them feel that a great amount of progress has been made since the last residential school was closed in the 1990’s. One example that they use is the cultural teaching of the Seven Grandfathers. Resources, especially funding, continue to be a challenge. To counteract arguments against special programs for Aboriginal students, Lynnita Jo Guillet uses the example of Italians that would be able to return to Italy and learn more about their culture. First Nations students must learn about their culture in the place that they are and in the schools that they attend. They also talk about how First Nations parents and communities must play a strong, active role and while it’s happening they have a long way to go to make all of the schools and the curriculum truly responsive and culturally relevant. Bentley Cheechoo stresses that it is essential for Aboriginal parents and communities to take full ownership of the education of their children
Considering my research into what’s helpful in the elementary classroom, ensuring that students feel fully valued and that families and communities feel welcome may make the difference for Aboriginal students. The discussion stresses again that feelings of racism and suspicion, resulting from western focused policies and residential schools, still exist and it will take time and effort to fundamentally structure classrooms that are truly inclusive and empowering.
Aboriginal Education: Solutions for the Future