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Despite years of promises, there’s still a gap: today, far fewer First Nations kids graduate from grade 12 than other kids in Canada because they aren't receiving the proper funding and support needed for a quality education.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), it’s that it was wrong to take Indigenous children from their communities. Indigenous parents and communities should be supported as they educate their children.
Change is possible. We know that when Indigenous kids have the funding and culturally appropriate education that they need, they thrive!
There have been some big commitments made, and the federal government has promised to live into the Calls to Action of the TRC. But change has been slow, and we’re not where we should be. A generation of Indigenous kids are waiting for justice and equity and that’s not okay. Now is the time for follow-through on promises.
Together, we can speak up so that all kids in Canada get quality education. It’s only right!
What are we advocating for?
The math is easy: a history of underfunding First Nations schools has meant less money for school libraries, extracurricular activities, retaining strong teachers, I.T., healthy school buildings, and more. And that’s translated into a graduation gap: in 2020-2 the Auditor General reported that the real grade 12 graduation rate for Indigenous students is 36.8%, compared to a national average around 90%.
Kids know what fairness looks like--and this isn’t fair.
Involvement of elders & communities
Together. We know that education works best when the full community owns it, whether that’s through parent-run independent schools, homeschooling, or community support for public schools. The same goes for First Nations schools: When culture and language are celebrated in curriculum, and when communities and elders play a role in education, students thrive!
How are we doing?
After hearing thousands of hours of testimony about how Canada got Indigenous education wrong in the residential school system, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended 4 systemic changes to make things right.
This is what reconciliation looks like….but how are we doing so far? Here’s our ‘report card’ on TRC Calls to Action 7-10 on K-12 education, based on consultations with Indigenous leaders and educators and available data.
Grading scale: Excellent (A), Promising (B),Needs Improvement (C), Needs Major Improvement (D), No significant progress (F)
What is the update on the Education Together report card? Hear directly from Director Mike Hogeterp in these short videos.
For more on understanding the impact of COVID-19 and what it can teach us with regards to Education Together read this blog "Building Back Better: Interdependence and Anti-Racism" by Director Mike Hogeterp.
Statistics to create a report card this year were not available due to the federal election. But we did ask federal candidates about Calls to Action 7-10. Check out this video series for more detail.
Read the full report card for the Canadian Government on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 7-10. The actions focus in on the importance of this repentance in K-12 education for Indigenous children.
How Can You Get Involved?
Take a Picture
Raise awareness of the need for quality First Nations education by snapping a photo and adding the #EducationTogether
Speak Up Together
Email us to order your free set of Education Together advocacy postcards. Please include your name, mailing address, and the number of cards you wish to receive. Then mail them to Ottawa free of charge!
When Indigenous kids have the funding and culturally appropriate education that they need, they thrive!
On the east coast, the Mi’kmaq have governed their own education since 1998, and the results speak for themselves. While high school graduation rates for First Nations people across the country are much lower than the provincial averages, Mi’kmaq kids keep beating the average.
Indigenous nations know what’s needed to improve school success—governments just need to listen. That’s where you come in, helping to amplify Indigenous voices and Indigenous success stories, so that political leaders listen. #EducationTogether
Nishnawbe Aski Nation sign Education Agreement
- Through this agreement, both parties will continue working in partnership to support the education systems serving 49 NAN communities to provide safe, culturally appropriate, and high-quality education services in a way that respects the diverse circumstances, strengths, and challenges of their communities. Read more >
Graduation rates up for Cowichan’s Indigenous students
- The graduation rate among Indigenous students in the Cowichan Valley has jumped 10 per cent in the last year, according to the Cowichan Valley School District’s Board of Education. Read more >
ON, KEB sign agreement to support Anishinabek student achievement and well-being
- The Government of Ontario and the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB) have signed an agreement that will see ON providing $7.9M to support Anishinabek student achievement and well-being. The agreement will support Anishinabek students by improving access to culturally relevant resources and supports. Read more >
N.S. elementary students starting to learn Mi'kmaw culture, history
Treaty Education teaches about more than just old papers, 'It's about our way of life,' says elder Jane Meader. Read more >
First Nations graduation rates on the rise in B.C.
Students and educators say addition of Indigenous history and culture to curriculum is the key to success. Read more >
Graduation rates hit record highs for Sea to Sky Indigenous students
Ten years ago, B.C. School District No. 48 overhauled its curriculum to include more Indigenous content. Now, it's graduating a record high number Indigenous students. Read more >
When will Ottawa end its willful neglect of First Nations children?
The federal government must end its discriminatory and inequitable funding of all public services on reserves, including education, health care, child welfare and basics such as water and sanitation. Read more >
The gold standard: Mi’kmaq Kina'matnewey
- This non-profit is tasked with delivering education to Mi’kmaq children and youth under the Mi’kmaq Education Act of 1998, and has made amazing strides forward. Read more >
What can happen when Indigenous education is done right? A Mi’kmaq success story
The Mi’kmaq Education Act has given the Mi’kmaq people control over their own education since 1998. Now that 17 years have gone by since this agreement, its success is evident. While high school graduation rates for First Nation people across the country are approximately 48.5%, well below the 85% provincial average, the Mi’kmaq have surpassed this provincial average by 3.5% as of four years ago. Read more >
More B.C. Indigenous students graduating high school than ever
“It’s inspiring to see how quickly Indigenous students respond when we begin to bring down barriers to their success.” (Rob Fleming, B.C. Minister of Education)
- Analysts point to increased supports and an updated curriculum that accurately reflects the history of Indigenous peoples in B.C. as part of the cause of the improved graduation rates. Read more >
Maskwacis education agreement in central Alberta
- Four First Nations signed an education agreement with the province of Alberta to run 11 schools for children in their communities. More than 2,300 students will be taught under the new Cree-based education system, which includes land-based programming and robust funding mechanisms.Read more >
Model Schools Literacy Project
- After partnering with Indigenous communities on successful pilot projects across the country, the Martin Family Initiative has found that “improving literacy skills in the first years of a child’s schooling dramatically increases the likelihood that he or she will complete high school and move on to pursue higher education.” Read more >
Ontario’s first education self-government agreement
- After 20 years of negotiation, Anishinabek nations signed an education agreement with the province of Ontario that affects roughly 27,000 Anishinaabe students in Ontario.
- “There isn’t a one-size-fits all solution and we’ve never seen that work in Canada for First Nations….The Indian Act hasn’t worked. What has worked are things like negotiated self-government agreements. The Nova Scotia education agreement with the Mi’kmaw is a good example.” (lawyer Judith Rae) Read more >
- Building Back Better: Education Together and Interdependance
- Indigenous Education Reform Infographic
- Interactive resource: Tracking progress on the Calls to Action
- Yellowhead Institute: TRC Calls to Action Accountability
- Important Lessons: What Grandparent's Day Can Teach us about Indigenous Education