Return from a healing hiatus

In a culture that demands so much of us as individuals, striking a balance between mind, body and soul seems more a point of curiosity or a good laugh at best. A demanding full-time job coupled with my studies, leaves little time for personal pursuits or small pleasures, be it reading the news before work or curling up with a good book. Personal interests aside, thankfully staying in the know requires little effort as we live in an age where information is generally little more than a few clicks away.

One small caveat – the ease of accessibility to said information leaves us vulnerable to an unsavoury blend of media coverage sometimes indistinguishable from the real McCoy. Sensationalized stories masquerading as legitimate news, enjoy front page status of every media news outlet both here and abroad. Headlines dealing with gritty, relevant topics are often concealed or hidden in plain sight under subsections of the paper. Nothing to see here folks! News has become another bi-product of our fast food culture. Tailored to my needs, either by magic or maybe algorithms, the media conglomerates serve up my news hot, fresh and pithy. I love this succinct world, where I don’t have to ponder, ruminate, reflect, well think – it’s all done for me.

Convenient? Yes. However, the obvious danger of having your headlines chosen for you by mass media conglomerates cannot be understated. Sometimes, biased and edited – perhaps distorted is more apt- coverage of current events and social issues seems a bi-product of a structure reliant on profit to generate news. This vulnerability, or Achilles heel, affords corporate America the opportunity to peddle their wares in a product-friendly environment i.e. no analysis to back claims and free of accountability. Not surprisingly, objectivity is all too often eclipsed by corporate interests that are in direct conflict with events and issues of public concern. In short, if a headline portrays an advertiser in a negative light, it most probably will never see the light of day. The almighty dollar rules supreme in North America.

All of this is to say that, news coverage is highly influenced by pundits and corporations that operate on agendas that do not hold public policy in high regard. Further, deeply rooted discriminatory practices in society dictate which stories receive coverage and which don’t. Case in point, news stories dealing with First Nations Peoples, then and now, are often secluded to sub-sections of the “paper”. For instance, the CBC maintains an Aboriginal section on their web-site that is home to stories exclusively dealing with Native issues across Canada. While it is encouraging to see more Native issues being addressed at this level, I wonder how much farther we have to go before we realize that inadequate access to education, increased vulnerability to violence and shockingly high mortality rates are not Native issues, but rather societal deficits that need to be addressed. Complex, emotionally charged, wrought with historical blunders, these issues are moral and ethical land-mines that have been unjustly labelled Native. Meet the Indian removal policy for the 21st century.

Over the last couple few months there has been increased interest in the cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. New findings published by the RCMP, surpass the findings of PhD candidate, Maryanne Pearce, by over 300 missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women over a 30 year period. Shocking when you consider her data hit media outlets only a few short months ago. It seems Maryanne’s name is already fading from public memory with the release of the RCMP report. She should be credited with accomplishing in seven years what it has taken the RCMP over 30 to do – identify a deeply rooted form of racism in society. More disconcerting is that until early 2014, the widely disseminated number of cases was in the vicinity of 550. That translates into over 500 sisters, mothers and daughters that simply disappeared from the Canadian ethos. Again, the Indian removal policy in action. Prior to January 2014, to find any degree of coverage on these statistics one would have to visit the The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) web-site. Not only have they made incredible efforts to keep this coverage in the public sphere, they have launched programs, like the Faceless Dolls Project, to raise awareness of the alarming rates of violence against First Nations girls and women in this country. The pressure on our Government by agencies such as NWAC and individuals like Maryanne Pearce to address this issue has resulted in the report by the RCMP.

There was a small degree of satisfaction, or perhaps relief, to see these headlines had secured front page status. As I look at their prominent placement, I can’t help but wonder when they will be relegated to the Aboriginal section of the paper for safe keeping.

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Creator Leslie Marmon Silko

Creator Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She self identifies as Pueblo, Laguna, Mexican, and white. After completing high school, she attended the University of New Mexico. Her works include: Tony’s Story, Laguna Women Poems, Ceremony, Storyteller, Almanac of the Dead and Yellow Woman, Sacred Water Narratives and Pictures, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit Essays, Love poem and Slim Man Canyon and most recently Gardens in the Dunes. She is an advocate for women’s rights and the preservation of the oral tradition of storytelling.

The excerpt below, taken from an interview while in Germany on a book tour, demonstrates the importance and model of traditional Indigenous knowledge as discussed in this blog. Leslie Marmon Silko is a gifted storyteller and she certainly provides compelling arguments for the preservation of the art of oral storytelling. Interview by Thomas Irmer from Alt-X Berlin a Leipzig correspondent.

You started writing poetry, drawing from old Indian legends handed down by your ancestors.

Yes, when one grows up in the Pueblo community, in the Pueblo tribe the people are communal people, it is an egalitarian communal society. The education of the children is done within the community, this is in the old times before the coming of the Europeans. Each adult works with every child, children belong to everybody and the way of teaching is to tell stories. All information, scientific, technological, historical, religious, is put into narrative form. It is easier to remember that way. So when I began writing when I was at the University of New Mexico, the professor would say now you write your poetry or write a story, write what you know they always tell us. All I knew was my growing up at Laguna, recallings of some other stories that I had been told as a child.

So this type of education was exclusively based upon oral traditions and not on a written culture, as in McLuhan’s terms.

Yes, it is a culture in which each person has a contribution to make. The older you are the more valued you are but each person is valued. The oral tradition stays in the human brain and then it is a collective effort in the recollection. So when he is telling a story and she is telling a story and you are telling a story and one of us is listening and there is a slightly different version or a detail, then it is participatory when somebody politely says I remember it this way. It is a collective memory and depends upon the whole community. There is no single entity that controls information or dictates but this oral tradition is a constantly self-correcting process.

 

Ceremony
I will tell you something about stories,
[he said]
They aren’t just for entertainment.
Don’t be fooled
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off illness and death.
You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.
Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories
let the stories be confused or forgotten
They would like that
They would be happy
Because we would be defenseless then.

The novel Ceremony in my opinion was a no holds barred look at Aboriginal life in the 20th century. Silko incorporates many elements that Aboriginal people struggle with such identity issues and alcoholism.

Our main character, Tayo,  is struggling with the aftermath of service to his country after World War II. Tayo’s cousin and best friend, Rocky, is killed in action and the pain of witnessing his death alters him to the point of near destruction. Upon his return to his community Tayo feels shunned because of his  half-white, half-Laguna status. He is not fully accepted by either culture which is cleverly symbolized through the application of each cultures “medicine”. Tayo cannot find relief in the hospitals or treatments of the white-man, but is deemed impure to receive the intervention of the Laguna people. Alcohol is unable to quell the pain within and only further exacerbates his suffering resulting in violent outbursts. His healing journey is long and arduous, but through traditional pueblo methods, he is able to heal through ceremony.

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The Importance of Traditions and Ceremonies

Here is a fantastic overview of the novel Ceremony and an in depth reflection on the importance of tradition within cultures.

Empowering Indigenous Knowledge

Traditions and ceremonies are an important part of any culture. We grow up with our own traditions and ceremonies. We may even experience how they have adapted or changed over time to suit the present. Through traditions and ceremonies we feel a deeper connection to our heritage and culture. The following definition is from the Oxford English Dictionary.

“Traditions are a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another” (OED)

In the novel Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko it becomes apparent that preserving Indigenous traditions will lead to preserving their culture and people. This can also be said for any culture, but for the purpose of this assignment I will stick to discussing Indigenous people. We can use examples from the novel to prove the importance of traditions. Rocky represents a character that is moving away from traditions. He is enjoying the white world…

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Creator Lee Maracle

Creator Lee Maracle Sto:Loh nation, mother of four, grandmother of four, was born in North Vancouver on July 2nd, 1950. She is a poet, author and a voice for Native Peoples. She attended Simon Fraser University and is one of the first Aboriginal Peoples to have their work published in Canada.  Her works include: First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style, Ravensong, Bobbi Lee, Sundogs, short story collection, Sojourner’s Truth, poetry collection, Bentbox, and non-fiction work I Am Woman. She has been published in countless magazines, journals and has spoken extensively on the value of  Indigenous knowledge at conferences and beyond.  Presently, she teaches at the University of Toronto, First Nations House and is also the Traditional Cultural Director for the Indigenous Theatre School. Aboriginal Studies, University of Toronto.

What inspires a great like Lee Maracale? Are writers born to write? Exactly what sets them apart from the pack? To address those questions and more here are some excerpts from an interview with Redwire Magazine Native Youth Media Society.

When did you start writing, or when did you start to write more seriously as a career? I never meant it to be a career. It’s really not yet; I mean I don’t make enough money to survive, yet. But I’m close; I’m very close to being able to retire from working. I’ve always worked. One of the things we were talking about in the Sixties, when we were all a bunch of radicals and the cops were following us around, harassing us, taking pictures, it was a really paranoid time; and I asked someone if there was anyone they didn’t kill and they said writers so I said, ‘Oh I can do that’. Because I didn’t want to stop being a radical and I didn’t want to get killed. For radicals of colour, blacks were being shot at alot of Native people in the US were being shot at. So I decided to start learning how to write. It took a long time because I also wanted to write in a culturally appropriate manner and it wasn’t really happening with the first collection of short stories that I came out with.

What inspires you to keep on writing to tell stories?

You know, this woman from India just won the Booker Prize and she said something I think applies to me she said, “Writers don’t go looking for stories, stories find writers, it’s a piece of magic”. Our people believe that the ancestors talk on the wind and science has already proven that voice never leaves the atmosphere. So if that’s the case, you know when you’re sleeping some time and a light goes on in your brain and you get up in the morning and you feel like writing, I think somebody said something to you last night. That’s sort of how I feel. At the same time in our language art means way of life, so the moment we do something that is artistic it becomes our way of life.

Creation First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style published by Theytus Books

“Maracle’s ability to weave stories together is amazing and this collection does not disappoint. She writes each story uniquely and addresses such issues as female sexuality and creative empowerment, loss and strained relations, and she fuses all genres of writing in a tone that is candid and holds nothing back.” Aboriginal Multi-media Society 

Maracle’s book of 12 beautifully crafted short stories was a wonderful foray into Indigenous literature. As a first time reader of Native fiction, the format and content eased me into a new genre of storytelling. Maracle uses every tool of the writer’s craft to reach her audience.  Humour laced stories are followed by heart wrenching tales of poverty and despair – yet it works!

I felt as though I was reading a pop-up book in that each story had so much energy that they sprung off the pages!  This bold and quite unique work does not shy away from such topics as female empowerment, sexuality, death and domestic violence. Maracle addresses these topics head on with a voice that is not to be ignored. My personal favourite and one of the most visceral stories I have ever read was Scarlet Requiem. I thought the inclusion of the narrative from the male, albeit child, perspective was brilliant move on Maracle’s part as it highlighted the importance of and influence of women as caregivers, teachers and mentors.

I would be remiss if I did not urge you to watch Lee Maracle’s Connection between Violence against the Earth and Violence against Women. She really hits the mark with her observations on how stress impacts our health. Her messages trascend culture and gender. A must watch!

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Creators in training

Here are some awards and competitions geared towards the Aboriginal community that encourage creative writing. The James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing Award and the Aboriginal Arts & Stories Competition are fairly high profile and nationally recognized initiatives. I was very pleased to see such a strong female presence amoungst the recipients for the James Bartleman award.

The information below is copied from their respective web-sites.

The James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing Award recognizes Aboriginal youth for their creative writing talent.

The award is named after the Honourable James Bartleman who was the 27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, serving from 2002 – 2007. Mr. Bartleman was the first Aboriginal Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. The award was set up as a legacy to his efforts in promoting literacy among Aboriginal youth.

“I’m inspired when I see how the award celebrates creative writing from youth of all backgrounds and abilities. These six writers have been encouraged and are embracing writing about subjects that inspire them. By doing so they have found their literary voices and begun personal storytelling journeys.” The Honourable James K. Bartleman Former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

The 2013 award recipients are:

  • Wenzdae Brewster, for her short story about two young boys who are exploring their identities.
  • Janna Kakegamic, for her story about Thunderbirds.
  • Cedar Moonias, for her song about dancing as her personal way to create memories.
  • Kole Nelson, for his anti-bullying rap song.
  • Melanie Porte, for her suspenseful screenplay about a young woman’s disappearance.
  • Emily Workman, for her poem about a fox and a skunk.

    “Dance!!!” – Cedar Moonias

Quick Facts

  • Since its creation in 2008, 36 Aboriginal youth have been honoured with a James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing Award.
  • Every year up to six Aboriginal students each receive the award of $2,500.
  • Eligible participants must be 18 years of age or younger at the time they submitted an entry, enrolled in an Ontario school, self-identify as an Aboriginal person, and a permanent resident of Ontario.
  • The Honourable James K. Bartleman was Ontario’s first Aboriginal Lieutenant Governor. He implemented four literacy initiatives for Aboriginal youth across Ontario during his time in office.

All information above copied from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration web-site http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/english/citizenship/honours/bartleman.shtml

The Aboriginal Arts & Stories Competition

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The Aboriginal Arts & Stories Competition is open to Canadians of Aboriginal ancestry (Status, Non-Status, Inuit and Métis) between the ages of 14-29.

Applicants can submit a creative writing or art piece inspired by an event or theme of importance to the Aboriginal community.

All genres of storytelling are encouraged from short stories, plays, poetry to screenplays.

The 2014 Jury Panel includes such note worthy authors as:

Joseph Boyden

A Canadian of Irish, Scottish and Métis roots, Joseph Boyden is the award-winning author of Three Day Road, which won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award, and Through Black Spruce, which won the 2008 Giller Prize. He recently released a double-biography on Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. He divides his time between Northern Ontario and Louisiana, where he teaches writing at the University of New Orleans.

Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle is the author of a number of critically acclaimed winning literary works including:Sojourner’s and Sundogs, Ravensong, Bobbi Lee, Daughters Are Forever, Will’s Garden, Bent Box, I Am Woman, and First Wives’ Club: Salish Style, and is co-editor of a number of anthologies including the award winning My Home As I Remember, Telling It: Women and Language Across Culture. Ms. Maracle is a member of the Sto:Loh nation. Maracle has served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor at both University of Toronto and Western Washington University. In 2009, Ms. Maracle received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the St. Thomas University. Upcoming work: Memory Serves: and other words

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The Battered And The Bruised

A great post by my classmate. For more information on violence against Aboriginal women please read on.

The Road to Empowerment:

maracle-first-wives-clubLee Maracle is “one of the country’s most prolific First Nations’ writers” (CBC).  Her work “re-imagines century-old myths and traditions for future generations, and reflects antipathy towards sexism, racism and white cultural domination” (University of Windsor) Maracle wants to empower Indigenous female identity and this can be seen within her short stories book First Wives Club Coast Salish Style.  She believes that “the passing on of women’s knowledge is essential to the healing of people and the environment” (University of Windsor).  Maracle’s The Laundry Basket short story chronicles main character Marla and her struggles with domestic violence.  “It was when she had stepped out of the bounds of orthodoxy that he had ‘put his foot down’ or rather began putting the back of his hand across her face” (Maracle 49).   Marla’s husband felt he was superior to her and held the power in their marriage because he was white. …

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Give the Faceless Dolls a Voice!

Sadly, many Aboriginal girls and women are victims of violence simply because they are First Nations. Approximately 53% of Aboriginal women will experience some form of violence in her lifetime.

“Aboriginal women and girls represented approximately 10% of all female homicides in Canada. However, Aboriginal women make up only 3% of the female population.” Native Women’s Association of Canada

With violence being so prevalent amoungst First Nations peoples, it is no surprise that many women meet a tragic end. The vast majority of the cases of missing and murdered girls and women across Canada remain unsolved leaving First Nations communities frustrated and angry.

In honour of the nearly 600 known cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal girls and women, the Native Women’s Association of Canada launched the Faceless Dolls Project. An initiative that has gained much media attention in the last two years, the strength of the project is rooted in the visceral reaction that the representations elicit.

The small cut-out faceless dolls were designed by renowned Native artist, Gloria Larocque a tireless crusader for Native women’s rights.  Schools, organizations, businesses, all are welcome to participate in the project! The dolls created will then become part of a traveling exhibit with a mission to educate and raise awareness of the near epidemic that is impacting the Aboriginal community.

“We remember that a beautiful Aboriginal woman is represented by every number shared, that each statistic tells a story.” Native Women’s Association of Canada

Letting Aboriginal Women speak for Aboriginal Women

For far too long Euro-western culture has silenced and attempted to obliterate the Aboriginal voice through cognitive imperialism. Aboriginal people’s value system and knowledge base were deemed as primitive and inferior and in need of spiritual restoration. However, Dr. Marie Battiste, Director of the Aboriginal Education Research Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, attests that we are entering an era where dialogue and discourse on Indigenous knowledge is embraced as a valuable element of education in western culture. Author of, Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision, Dr. Battiste is an advocate for culturally relevant education that reflects the diverse political and cultural landscape of our Nation.

In her book, Dr. Battiste discusses post-colonial Indigenous thought, not to be confused with post-colonial theory. The former is a term used by Indigenous peoples as a projection into the future to a time when Indigenous knowledge and culture will be equal to that of Euro-western practices.  It derives from the pain and persecution experienced by First Nations peoples and is not to be diminished or tainted by Eurocentric thought. As exemplified in many works such as Robert Alexie’s Porcupines in China Dolls and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony there is an incredible strength in that pain. As readers, we bear witness to past injustices and present day inequalities; it is also our responsibility to ensure those voices are not extinguished or hushed by Euro-western thinking.

Case in point, the almost 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women who have been silenced because they are Native. Working within the parameters of post-colonial Indigenous thought, their stories can only be retold through a Native perspective as that pain and suffering belongs to the Native Community.  Why not have Aboriginal students from across Canada put pen to paper to tell the stories of the missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6th remembers the 14 young women who were murdered at Ecole polytechnique de montreal in 1989 because they were women. Events, ceremonies and initiatives around December 6th need to honour the missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women. Launching a creative writing campaign specifically for Aboriginal girls is a unique way of honouring the dead while maintaining culturally relevant practices and traditions.

The Dolls will remain faceless until justice is served, but let’s give them a voice! 

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A better model means a brighter future

The last Residential school closed its doors in 1996 and while the physical remnants of colonization have been abolished, the practices are alive and well in the classroom and beyond. Aboriginal children follow a Euro-western syllabus with mandatory subjects such as English and French; their native language being notably absent as even an elective.

In a move to remedy the inherent biases in the current education model, the federal government released its first draft of the First Nations Education Act in late October of this year. The proposal was released with little fanfare and received a very cool reception by First Nations Chiefs. At first glance the act appears to reward the bands with the autonomy necessary to implement a better system, but curriculum standards would be imposed and monitored by the federal government.  A step back and of great concern to those who understand the importance of a culturally relevant model or “education vision” (Nicole Ireland/CBC) for  the Aboriginal community.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, right, visited a Grade 7 classroom in Ottawa this month with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. Valcourt has released a draft of his department’s First Nations education reform legislation. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Recent merging of Indigenous knowledge with Euro-western pedagogy has yielded tremendous results with First Nations peoples. This simple approach to a once culturally biased education system has resulted in never before seen rates of post-secondary school completion. Known as the “generative curriculum model” (Ball 2004) Elders and members of the community help shape the curriculum to ensure cultural components such as language are supported in the classroom. Learning becomes less about the progress of the individual or student, and more about the success of the collective or group. It should be noted that in some First Nations groups education is rooted in practices that ensure the safety and well-being of the community, not for the benefit of the individual. As pointed out by Leroy Little Bear in “Jagged Worldviews Colliding” from Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision, specialization is not practiced by Aboriginal peoples, rather education is an introduction to all aspects of daily life; a general knowledge base that benefits the group and is reflective of the value of wholeness or balance in Native epistemology.

“In many Indigenous communities, generations of people do not know their own culture of origin or their heritage language, and their identities as members of an Indigenous community have been attenuated.” Jessica Ball

It is vital that First Nations children grow up knowing they are loved, valued and contributing members of Canadian society. According to Leroy Little Bear in Native societies, “children are the objects of love and kindness from a large circle of relatives and friends.” (Little Bear). Further states Little Bear, family members such as Aunts and Uncles play an active role in the education of children, handing down their practical knowledge to another generation. Elders and community members must act as cultural sentinels empowering children to not only speak their language, but to do so with pride and without fear of persecution or ridicule. In the absence of these crucial elements, educators are doing a disservice to Aboriginal youth.

“When students do not see their traditional Indigenous knowledge reflected in studies related to science, law, history, geography and philosophy – the message is that their knowledge systems are not as important as settler knowledge systems. While this is a more direct way of achieving the assimilation of Indigenous peoples than residential schools for example, it is no less destructive.”  Chiefs of Ontario, Our Children, Our Future, Our Vision.

As I have learned through my Indigenous Fiction course taught by Professor Sara Humphreys, traditional Indigenous Knowledge is multi-faceted and extensive. Storytelling, one such component of Indigenous knowledge, is utilized as a vehicle for dissemination of the values and lessons passed from generation to generation. According to Little Bear, stories are the life blood of the Aboriginal culture and transcend the physical and spiritual world. This freedom of cognitive movement i.e. not restricted by empirical thought that puts limitations on the imagination, is why I maintain that the storytelling tradition lends itself so well to creative writing and should be at the heart of the revised curriculum for Aboriginal Education.

In a report published by the Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre, creative writing was found to be successful in easing weary parents and students into the classroom setting. Perhaps haunted by memories related to abuse or feelings of alienation, parents and students are encouraged to confront their demons through biographical and autobiographical writing. The Three Stars and a Wish writing project was met with much success as it acknowledged and empowered Aboriginal knowledge and experiences within a culturally relevant context. Creative Writing was the catalyst for the hybrid education system that marries western and Indigenous learning foundations.

We’re getting there….

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Native Women’s Association of Canada

A fantastic organization that works to advance the social, economic, cultural and political standing of First Nations girls and women across Canada. They have cultivated relationships with the United Nations and Amnesty International to end discriminatory practices towards First Nations women.

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Aboriginal Education

First Nations Peoples are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population, yet the infrastructure and social supports necessary for success are lagging or non-existent. A disproportionate number of First Nations Peoples face gender, racial, economic, health and education inequality. A tremendous amount of work is needed to  reduce the disparity between Native and non-Native Peoples in Canada. Societal biases only further compound an already dire situation resulting in mistreatment of Aboriginal Peoples.

Education is quickly becoming the focus of many round-table discussions, summits and reports on Aboriginal issues. Growing awareness around the unique needs and struggles faced by Native Peoples is eliciting  attention and action. Staggering statistics tell a bleak story with more than 30% of Aboriginals without a secondary school diploma.

In spite of socio-economic factors that could limit their learning outcomes, Aboriginal girls and women see higher graduation rates at the secondary and post-secondary level than their male counterparts (Native Women’s Association of Canada). Regardless, high rates of gender based violence, poverty, low earning potential and child rearing demands can create nearly insurmountable odds for those in pursuit of their academic dreams.  The current system does not account for these factors and as such leaves many girls and women unable to improve their lot in life through education.

Collaboration with First Nations elders, government and organizations such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada is working towards a model that reflects the unique needs of First Nations Peoples.

Aboriginal education

Canada’s universities recognize that tremendous opportunities exist – for Aboriginal Canadians and for the country – if we increase access to university education for Aboriginal Canadians.

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Aboriginal population grew by 47 percent between 1996 and 2006 (almost six times faster than the non-aboriginal population which grew by 8 percent).
  • Only 8 percent of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 in Canada have a university degree while 23 percent of non-Aboriginals of the same age group have a university degree.
  • More than one-third of Aboriginal people have not completed high school.
  • Federal funding to support Aboriginal students attending a postsecondary institution has increased at only two percent a year since 1996 while tuition has increased at an average of 4.4 percent a year since 1998.
  • Federal PSE funding supports about 22,000 Aboriginal students attending college and university a year.
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