Make Aboriginal Education a Priority

Articles in the Vancouver Sun on July 7, and 8 stress, as Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says that BC needs a “more co-ordinated” approach to Aboriginal education. In the article, Grand Chief of the AFN, Shawn Atleo is referenced as saying that during his life-time there’s been a great many commissions and reports resulting great amounts of rhetoric and very little progress that might lead to real success for Aboriginal students. Aboriginal education is equally important for First Nations community as it is for all of Canada, given that First Nations youth represent the “fastest growing demographic”. More and more aboriginal youth are entering the workforce and it is essential for Canada’s economic success that they be educated to meet the needs of the growing knowledge based economy. On July 8th, some solutions are offered. It is noted that graduation rates among Aboriginal students continue to lag behind the general population, putting youth at a great disadvantage. They point out that in a “media-rich” global economy increased technical skills are key and that First Nations students are an “underutilized resource”. They state that “renewal must begin with the communities themselves”. They must move beyond the trauma of residential schools and “create a new warrior ethos”. Systemic flaws in the current system contribute to Aboriginal students’ lack of success and the system must respond and evolve to meet their needs. Early access to education, on and off reserves, in addition to stable, equitable funding are critical components of a successful system. First Nations communities, the Federal Government and the Province all need to work together to ensure progress is made on this issue. These articles will help support my work with my own school district and outlines the need for all levels to work in a co-ordinated fashion.

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