As I researched initiatives in Aboriginal education across Canada, I found this interesting environmental scan conducted in 2010. It was encouraging to see that the dialogue that began in 1972 with the policy proposal by the National Indian Brotherhood has resulted in some progress in Aboriginal education initiatives, albeit not as quickly and uniformly as one might hope.
In order for real, consistent and long-term change to occur across Canada in regards to First Nations control of education, capacity must increase in the areas of teacher training and curriculum design. Therefore, post-secondary institutions need to assume a leadership position and be pro-active in engaging with the Aboriginal communities that they serve.
Many of the post-secondary institutions identified in the environmental scan conducted by the Association of Canadian Colleges have demonstrated that leadership, and can serve as role models to those institutions now seeking to establish Aboriginal engagement policies. As the Calls to Action published recently by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission note, education is a fundamental human right and is guaranteed not only under the Charter, but by the Treaties.
The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission also noted that, because of funding shortfalls, society is missing out on the real benefits that would be realized by educating Aboriginal professionals, including educators. While the environmental scan highlighted success stories at Canada's post-secondary institutions in regards to Aboriginal student engagement, the scan only represented a very small segment of the institutions. That suggests that there is still much work to do!
Read the report of Colleges and Institutes Canada here...