Indigenous Education

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Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action

In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 calls to action, including action on curriculum that focuses on the contributions of Indigenous people to Canada’s history, and improved funding for Indigenous students and schools.

Calls to Action

“Picking Up the Pieces”: A Community-School-Based Approach to First Nations Education Renewal

By Paul W. Bennett and Jonathan Anuik.
Northern Policy Institute. Policy Research Paper, Sept. 2014
Picking Up The Pieces

Royal Commission recommendations

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was a Canadian Royal Commission established in 1991 to address many issues of aboriginal status that had come to light with recent events such as the Oka Crisis and the Meech Lake Accord. The commission culminated in a final report of 4000 pages, published in 1996. The original report “set out a 20-year agenda for implementing changes.”

Royal Commission: summary of education recommendations

Presentation to the Joint Task Force on First Nations and Metis Education and Employment

November 2012 – Report submitted by RealRenewal to the Joint Task Force on First Nationa and Metis Education and Employment. Contains results of an online survey, a report on community schooling, and an analysis of relevant literature. Joint Task Force Submission

The State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada – A Holistic Approach to Measuring Success

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). This Canadian Council on Learning report finds 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. Link to the full report

Reclaiming the Spirit

Note: This report previously available through the Canadian Council on Learning, which was disbanded under the Harper Government. A book version can be found online through university libraries as a downloadable e-book for those who have university library cards. The direct link below is unfortunately now broken. 

This report is a summary of the Reclaiming the Learning Spirit: Learning from Our Experience roundtable, which took place at the Saskatoon Inn in Saskatoon, Sask. on March 12-14, 2008. The event was a collaboration between the Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre (AbLKC) and the Adult Learning Knowledge Centre (ALKC), which are initiatives funded by the Canadian Council on Learning. The idea of a co-sponsored event that aimed at improving the learning environment for adult Aboriginal learners was wholeheartedly embraced by both knowledge centres.  Reclaiming the Spirit

Community Story: A Cree Alternative Program

In 2008, the Edmonton Public School Board decided to create a Cree Extended Alternative Program, separate from the Cree Language and Culture (Awasis) initiative it launched in 1977. The story of why and how a second Cree program was instituted and the lessons learned in only two years of operation provide insights into the continuing challenge of addressing children’s educational and cultural needs. Community Story: Abott School’s Alternative Program (pdf)

Assessing Students’ Ways of Knowing

This text will give the reader some understanding of the complexities of standardized testing and performance assessment in education – particularly for aboriginal students. The book and its contributors invite readers to consider carefully, assessment for accountability, particularly the use of standardized tests, and the value of assessment for student learning. Many alternatives to standardized testing are provided.

Assessing Student Ways of Knowing

Performance Indicators

This Assembly of First Nations Secretariat briefing paper compares INAC’s standard measures of success – school attendance, drop out rates and performance on standardized literacy and numercy tests – with alternative measures under development by First Nations communities. The author points to examples that focus on linguistic retention and cultural knowledge as primary measures of educational success.

School-Based Performance Indicators (pdf)

Redefining How Success is Measured

After an extensive nation-wide consultation, the Candian Council of Learning reports that although current learning indicators now widely used by governments and researchers are important measures, they fall short.

They must be broadened to measure more than simply years of schooling and performance on standardized tests. A more holistic approach to measurement that recognizes all aspects of lifelong learning is needed to measure the individual and collective well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

Read Redefining How Success is Measured.


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Assembly of First Nations – Education Policy Area

Aboriginal Education Research Centre, University of Saskatchewan


The Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre

NOTE: The Council was shut down by the Harper government, so this link is no longer active, but is maintained on our site as a record of what existed.

The Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre was created by the Canadian Council on Learning to provide a collaborative national forum that would support the development of effective solutions for the challenges faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners. The website includes a wealth of research reports, case studies, and links related to Aboriginal Learning.

Archived news articles

Province buys into New Zealand package for First Nations education

February 21, 2016 by realrenewal

The Regina Public School board’s strategic plan for 2014-2017 states it will work to improve the achievement rates of First …
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On-reserve education on the ropes

April 23, 2015 by realrenewal

The loss of FSIN’s education director, followed by a clawback on promised federal funds, ensured April was a painful month …
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First Nations education report released

October 1, 2014 by realrenewal

by The Northern Policy Institute Northern Policy Institute has released a report on First Nations Education in Canada. Picking up …
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First Nations Education Act stirs controversy

November 8, 2013 by realrenewal

“No legislation destined for the present Parliament is more important or more controversial than the First Nations Education Act…The act …
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Call for public input on First Nations education

October 23, 2013 by realrenewal

Parents, educators, students and community members are being encouraged to submit comments on the federal government’s First Nations Education Bill. …
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Aboriginal-focus school considered

April 17, 2011. Vancouver Public is looking in to creating a school with an aboriginal focus. They have finished consultations, and have issued this report. Community Responses

Education is the key to aboriginal (and Canadian) potential

by Shawn Atleo

Shawn Atleo

Investments in First Nations youth: Consider them a sustainable economic stimulus plan

The issues facing First Nations today are so wide-ranging it can be difficult to know where to begin. The key is to move on those areas that set a strong foundation for growth. First Nations are united on an agenda for change.

We understand these are extraordinary economic times. Yet this makes it all the more important that we invest immediately in First Nations, especially in youth. If we do not, the gap between First Nations citizens and other Canadians will grow, as will unemployment, creating downward pressure on productivity coupled with upward pressure on social expenditures and programs. All Canadians will suffer and all Canadians will pay for it.

Read the full article

Shawn Atleo is National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. From Sunday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Feb. 19, 2010 9:01PM EST Last updated on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 2:56AM EST. Extracted Feb. 21, 2010

“A National Disgrace”

Sean Atleo talks about the highschool completion rate gap between on and off reserve schools in this article.

Tracking First Nations Students

The Saskatoon Separate School Board has announced it will begin tracking the progress of aboriginal students. This news has been welcomed by the Saskatoon Tribal Council as a step to ensure First Nations students aren’t lost in the system. Canwest News Article (pdf)

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