Indigenous Excellence


The following links have been provided to highlight areas of general interest in Aboriginal education. Although this is not an exhaustive list, the first section is a compilation of several major studies undertaken in the past thirty five years beginning with the Hawthorn Report. The second section includes recent reports and studies. The third section contains links to reconnecting programs – helping connect adoptees with community. The fourth section links to documents and research reports that support the goals of the Aboriginal Education and Employment Action Plan. The fifth section provides additional links that are of general interest for those involved in Aboriginal education across Canada.

Please contact the Indigenous Excellence for more information on Aboriginal education research or to submit a link.

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Landmark Documents

The Hawthorn Report – Parts 1 and Hawthorn Report – Part 2
In 1964, the Minister of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration commissioned a study to review the situation of the Indians in Canada with a view to understanding the difficulties they faced in overcoming some pressing problems. The first part of the Hawthorn Report concerns the conditions and programs that are primarily economic, political and administrative in nature. Part Two of the report deals with the issues of education and the internal organizations of reserves.

Tradition and Education: Towards a Vision of Our Future
The Declaration of First Nations Jurisdiction over Education was approved and adopted by the Chiefs of Canada on December 13, 1988. It is a result of a National review of First Nations Education, a major national study. The wealth of information and conclusions contained in volumes One Two and Three is intended to guide the construction of education systems at the local level that truly reflects the needs and desires of First Nations.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
The report of the Royal Commission concerns government policy with respect to the original historical nations of this country. The Commission uses the term Aboriginal people to refer in a general manner to Inuit, First Nations and Metis. (see Section 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982. Commissioners appointed to the RCAP held close to one hundred meetings between the fall of 1991 and the fall of 1995. The approach proposed in the final report offers the prospect of change in both the long term and the short term.

Our Children: Keepers of the Sacred Knowledge Adobe Icon
In November 2003 this report was presented to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern development. Previous reports and studies have been consistent in their recommendations concerning First Nations Education. First Nations ownership of education is a theme that is woven throughout the report. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development invited the Ministers Working Group on Education (MNWGE) to provide options on strategies and measures required to foster excellence in First Nations Education and to reduce the gap in academic results between First Nations and other Canadians. This report concludes the mandate of the MNWGE.

Auditors General Report — The Role of INAC
Canada must support First Nations to achieve the required measure of legal authority, education dollars and infrastructure capacity to enable First Nations parents, Elders and leaders to identify and implement the necessary reforms, programs and policies in First Nations schools and in the appropriate provincial and territorial schools. The 2000 Auditor General’s Report identified a series of shortcomings for which INAC bears partial or full responsibility.

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Recent Reports and Studies

Making Education Work (MEW) Outcomes Report 2013
Making Education Work (MEW) was a five year research project jointly funded by the Province of Manitoba and the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. The project involved high school students in six sites across Manitoba, consisting of three First Nation and three provincial high schools. The overall aim of the project was to evaluate whether the provision of additional in-school supports and services would assist Grade 10 to 12 students in staying in school, meeting requirements and entering a post-secondary program. Program Implementation began in the 2006/2007 school year with students scheduled to graduate in 2009.

Making Education Work (MEW) Outcomes Report 2013 (Adobe Icon 867 KB)
Making Education Work (MEW) Implementation Report 2011 (Adobe Icon 7.27 MB)

Reforming First Nations Education: From Crisis to Hope - Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples - December 2011 (Adobe Icon 1.94 MB)
This report from the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples discusses First Nations education in Canada including the historical context, the current framework, and recent attempts at reform. Input that the committee heard and recommendations for a new framework for First Nations education systems in Canada are also presented.

Investing in Aboriginal Education in Canada: An Economic Perspective
Research Report, Dec 17, 2009
Investing in Aboriginal Education in Canada: An Economic Perspective by economist and Executive Director, Andrew Sharpe, and senior economist, Jean-François Arsenault at the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS), examines the strong positive correlation between education, employment and earnings that is well established in social science research, and postulates various positive economic outcomes for the Canadian economy – regionally and nationally – if Aboriginal educational attainment was improved even marginally.  Sharpe and Arsenault argue that Canada's Aboriginal population could play a key role in mitigating the looming long-term labour shortage caused by Canada's ageing population and low birthrate.

A Study of Aboriginal Teachers’ Professional Knowledge and Experience in Canadian Schools Adobe Icon
Research Report, March 10, 2010
This qualitative study, initiated by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and its Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Education, explored the professional knowledge and experiences of Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) teachers. The rationale for the study was to address the urgent need to improve and promote Aboriginal education in public schools. This study asks the question: what can we learn from the professional knowledge and experiences of Aboriginal teachers who teach in public schools about how to better promote and support the success of Aboriginal education in public schools? The  continuing goal of this study is to promote on-going dialogue and learning about Aboriginal education within teacher organizations and the broader educational community.

The State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada: A Holistic Approach to Measuring Success Adobe Icon
Research Report, 2009
For generations, Aboriginal people in Canada have understood the role that learning plays in building healthy individuals and thriving communities. Despite their cultural and historical differences, Canada’s 1.1 million First Nations, Inuit and Métis people share a common vision of learning as a holistic, lifelong process. Governments, Aboriginal organizations and communities are increasingly making decisions and developing policies that reflect a better understanding of this Aboriginal perspective. However, these decisions still typically rely on conventional measurement approaches that offer a limited—and incomplete—view of the state of Aboriginal learning in Canada. In Canada, measurement approaches are typically built upon a partial understanding of Aboriginal learning, often choosing to concentrate on high-school completion rates (or the lack thereof). The problem with such approaches is that they overlook many aspects of learning that are integral to an Aboriginal perspective and important to Aboriginal learners and the communities they live in.

Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2001 - Provincial and Territorial Reports: Off Reserve Aboriginal Population Adobe Icon
The purpose of the provincial and territorial reports is to present a summary of demographic, social and economic characteristics of the off reserve Aboriginal population in the Atlantic provinces, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories. Information on education, residential schools, information technology, employment, mobility and housing, health and language are highlighted. While most of the focus is on adults, there is also information provided on children. Data showing comparisons between Aboriginal groups are provided, as are some comparisons with the non-Aboriginal population. Findings are based on the 2001 Census and the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey.

Creating Choices: Rethinking Aboriginal Policy Adobe Icon
Policy reforms to assist Aboriginal people should focus on improving the quality of education and health care Aboriginal people receive, holding band councils accountable for the billions of dollars they spend, and recognizing the needs of the seven out of ten Aboriginals who live off-reserve. These are among the conclusions of a major study on Aboriginal policy published by the C.D. Howe Institute. The study, Creating Choices: Rethinking Aboriginal Policy, was written by John Richards, a professor in Simon Fraser University’s Public Policy Program and the Roger Phillips Scholar in Social Policy at the C.D. Howe Institute.

Best Practices in Increasing Aboriginal Post Secondary Enrolment Rates Adobe Icon
Aboriginal post secondary enrolment and completion rates are significantly lower than those of non-Aboriginals in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Interviews with stakeholders and a review of the literature demonstrate that significant barriers exist with respect to Aboriginal learners participation in post secondary education.

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Martin Family Initiative

Martin Family Initiative (MFI)
The Martin Family Initiative (MFI) was established in 2008 in order to initiate a variety of educational projects designed to provide Aboriginal Canadians with the opportunities they need to succeed. MAEI brings together Aboriginal organizations, the business community, post-secondary institutions, First Nation schools and provincially-funded school boards to implement programs to support Aboriginal students. Their goal is to support initiatives that improve education at the elementary and secondary school levels for Aboriginal Canadians.

Promising Practices in Aboriginal Education (Adobe Icon)
This website sponsored by the Martin Family Initiative (MFI) allows educators, researchers and others to learn from the experiences of others about strategies described elsewhere that have been found to be successful in enhancing learning opportunities and improving educational success for Aboriginal students. The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative guiding vision is to empower Aboriginal students with the knowledge and confidence they need to complete secondary school and to continue their education.

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Aboriginal Education and Employment Action Plan

Goal 1: Student engagement and high school completion

Profile of Student Learning In Manitoba
This report provides information on provincial student learning and performance with the purpose of engaging Manitobans in discussions on those factors that contribute to successful results for all students and on the possibilities for further action and improvement. The report is intended to compliment the annual reports that schools and school/divisions are sharing with their local communities.

Aboriginal Education in Winnipeg Inner City High Schools Adobe Icon
This study investigates the educational circumstances of Aboriginal students in Winnipeg inner city high schools.  The study is based on interviews with 47 Aboriginal students, 50 Aboriginal school leavers, 25 adult members of the Aboriginal community and 10 teachers, 7 of them Aboriginal. The study concludes with recommendations that are considered necessary to begin the process of change that needs to take place in the education system.

Encouraging Success: Ensuring Aboriginal Youth Stay in School Adobe Icon
Unfortunately many Aboriginal people lack the education, training and skills needed to successfully obtain and retain employment in the Canadian economy. The key challenges lie in devising and implementing strategies that are effective in ensuring Aboriginal youth attain high education levels.Encouraging Success is the second of three Canada West Foundation Reports to be published under the Aboriginal Human Capital Strategies Initiative.

Integrating Aboriginal Perspectives into Curricula: A Resource for Curriculum Developers, Teachers, and Administrators Adobe Icon
Aboriginal perspectives are based on the distinct world view of the Aboriginal cultures. This world view has humans living in a universe made by the Creator and needing to live in harmony with nature, one another, and with oneself. Each Aboriginal culture expresses this same world view in a different way with different practices, stories, and cultural products. To correct historical and social biases that have developed, greater integration of Aboriginal perspectives into existing and future curricula is necessary.

Goal 2: Access to and success in adult learning, including post secondary education and training

University College of the North
The University College of the North is an institution devoted to community and northern development and reflects the Aboriginal reality and cultural diversity of northern Manitoba. UCN has two main campuses, the Pas and Thompson, complete with a full range of services. In addition there are six regional centers.

Answering the call: The 2010 inventory of Canadian university programs and services for Aboriginal students Adobe Icon
Released June 2010 This new report from AUCC provides an in-depth look at the innovative steps Canadian universities are taking to improve access and success of Aboriginal students in higher education.

The Price of Knowledge Access and Student Finance in Canada Adobe Icon
This book is mainly a compilation of data from a variety of sources. Its purpose is to provide as complete a picture as possible of the state of knowledge about access and student finance in Canada — within a single volume. This is the first edition of the book. The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation intends to publish new editions of this volume every two years, as a complement to its major program of original research.

How Do Educational Outcomes Vary With Socioeconomic Status Adobe Icon
In June 2004, the Manitoba Center for Health Policy Development (MCHP) published a report using information from health, vital statistics, education, social assistance and the community to analyze connections between socio-economic and educational risk factors. The new databases at MCHP provide a unique resource to examine educational outcomes for all Manitoba children at specific points in time.

Goal 3: Meaningful participation in the labour market

Working Towards Parity: Recommendations of the Aboriginal Human Capital Strategies Initiative Adobe Icon
Working Towards Parity is the third and final installment of Canada West's Aboriginal Human Capital Strategies Initiative, a one-year research initiative designed to communicate the importance of Aboriginal human capital to the western Canadian economy, to increase the availability and quality of information regarding the labour market realities facing Aboriginal labour market outcomes.

Aboriginal Peoples living off-reserve in Western Canada: Estimates from the Labour Forces Survey
This paper provides information on Aboriginal employment and unemployment, Aboriginal youths and the impact on labour market performance in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Annual average data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) on off-reserve Aboriginal peoples from April 2004 to March 2005 are used.

Aboriginal Learners in Selected Adult Learning Centers
Over the past several years, Adult learning Centers (ALC’s) have become a powerful and effective new approach to education in Manitoba. Approximately one third of learners in ALC’s are Aboriginal. This report is based on interviews with Aboriginal Adult learners and the objective was to determine what keeps Aboriginal Adult learners attending ALC’s and what contributes to their success. Tools that allow Aboriginal people to take advantage of educational opportunities are essential if Manitoba is to have a just and prosperous future.

Goal 4: Family and community engagement and educational stewardship

Education and Early Childhood Learning Research Network
MERN is a collaborative effort of Manitoba’s Faculties of Education and the Manitoba government’s departments of Education and Advanced Education and Literacy. The MERN website has two major goals: to highlight Manitoba’s educational research and researchers, and to foster the development of an educational research community in Manitoba.

The MERN Journal – Volume 3
This Volume contains articles based on presentations at MERN forums 11, 13, 14, and 15. Brian Lewthwaite begins the Volume with an exploration of the transformation of a northern Canadian Aboriginal school, led by a local Aboriginal principal. John Hansen interviewed several Cree elders to determine whether they could assist schools and homes in establishing effective conflict resolution approaches as well as promoting peace and justice. Luella Jonk studied Aboriginal mothers’ responses to a survey inquiring into methods that they used to facilitate language development.

Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable Adobe Icon
This website has been developed to provide Canadians with information and documentation resulting from the Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable and related follow-up activities. The Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable held in Ottawa on April 19th, 2004 represented an unprecedented opportunity for members of the Federal Cabinet, Senate and House of Commons to engage with Aboriginal leaders from across the country.

Celebrating Strengths: Aboriginal Students and Their Stories of Success in Schools Adobe Icon
This report by Seven Oaks school division presents Aboriginal students’ narratives on factors which have contributed positively to their school experience in Manitoba.

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Useful Links

First Nations Education Steering Committee
FNESC facilitates discussion about education matters affecting First Nations in British Columbia by disseminating information and soliciting input from First Nations. The site was created to provide information about FNESC and their activities, programs, upcoming events and publications. The information on the site, although originating in British Columbia can be useful in other Canadian jurisdictions.

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