Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Aboriginal Education: Canada's Two Real Solitudes

Aboriginal Education Best Practises
There is a continuing debate about Aboriginal education based on very different ideas about what is best for the children, Aboriginal peoples, Canadians and Canada. On one hand you have the idea that Aboriginal peoples need to integrate into Canadian society by having the same types of education as all other Canadian children. Aboriginal education is seen as being wishy-washy, short on ideas, hard to understand, providing little useful marketable skills, less rigorous than a western education, building to the lowest common denominator, an off-shoot of current educational experts (John Dewey descendants) attempts at child centered education that water down the great traditions of Western culture and civilization; it is simply a path that is not an advancement in education, but at worst a regression and at minimum a waste of time and money in feel good activities. Are these accusations fair?

Chief John Snow (Wesley Band of the Stoney Nakoda Sioux First nation) wrote in the 1977 that we should have a different type of education in Canada, one based on integration. “Of course I believe in integrated education. Let the neighbouring communities bring their children onto our reserve and we’ll do our best to integrate them” (book These mountains are our sacred places). While many would not see this comment as being serious Chief Snow was expressing the exact same view point that many non-Aboriginal peoples held concerning Aboriginal peoples.  Many Indigenous peoples in Canada believe that a separate Indigenized education system with access to similar resources as public system is not only necessary, but a Human Right (Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of HR). Others like Elder Winston Wuttunee are more pragmatic and hold that all students and humans should have access to the teaching of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples have a duty to build understanding within all students. They have this duty because of their special connection to the land, earth and creation. We have as Winston says “a special role to play.”

Few actually understand many of ideas and the historical developments surrounding Aboriginal education. The idea of Aboriginal education as a separate field of study while it has gained currency as an area of expertise has not been wholly embraced. I was once told that the former Dean of Education at McGill did not believe in this field of study (anonymous personal communication). It is an area of education that is difficult to discuss do to potential accusations of racism and the high emotional issues that surround it. Many quietly question Aboriginal education as being a watering down of the standards that will enable students to obtain knowledge and skills useful for employment.

Though perhaps it is true that non-Native children should be taught in an Indigenous manner and Chief Snow has it right. Very few cultures in the world such as the Indigenous peoples in Canada have been able to demonstrate the high capacity for survival. The First Nations world-view has demonstrated stamina that even though it has been attacked, harassed and victimized it has still persisted to this day and in many cases is undergoing a revival and renaissance. Some have even called this interaction a form of genocide (Justice Murray Sinclair, Feb 17, 2012).

The debates about Aboriginal education run quite the gamut from institutions like the University of Manitoba promoting student support programs, to the Frontier Centre advocating a different Indian Control of Indian Education controlled not by chiefs and reserves, but by parents or even using a voucher system, to the First Nations University of Canada. Few though ask what we are trying to do; what are the intended outcomes, our long term goal. Some like the Dean of Extended Education at the U of Manitoba indicate that students outcomes must be tied to educational success and educational success is graduation from university; and this is the principal measure of success. Others like Aboriginal educator Audrey Richard write that success should be much more holistic taking into account not only academic success, but the way the student works and lives after they have completed some educational training. Other educational programs like the Le,Nonet program at U Victoria also discuss how students see success and it is generally it would be considered far more holistic.

It is certainly a very difficult area to make sense because of the many entrenched interests that often preclude the finding of solutions that meet the educational and holistic objectives of students, families, and communities.  


  1. I understand that different cultural paradigms dictate differentiated instruction, but, while reading this post, I couldn't help but think of the saying "separate but equal". The importance of cultural values and norms within classrooms is paramount to the education of young people, both as citizens and as human beings. But, the more pragmatic side of me always comes back to the concept of creating educated citizens who pay taxes and contribute to the whole of society by integrating themselves into the social framework. I realize that this is a very contentious topic, and that my pragmatic views are highly generalized, but the question begs, how does education influence the progress of a global society, not just a subsection of it? Creating two different education systems, in my opinion, hearkens back to a segregated society, where education was separated based on race and perceived values. I am completely in agreement with injecting more multicultural dialect into classrooms, focusing on social justice issues, but I am also at odds with segregating our population based on ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. We should be learning to live and work together, not intentionally withdrawing/separating our students.

    1. According to Meijun Fan (2004) Integration in Education revolves around the concept understanding. She says in Chinese, the word “integrated” literally
      means putting different cultures together, based
      on positive moral concepts.

    2. As a society it is impossible to satisfy the needs and views of everyone within it. What is best for Canada and Canadians might not necessarily be beneficial for Aboriginal people and their children. Many experts believe, including (John Dewy descendants) that Aboriginal education is not up to standards. They feel that it waters down the great tradition of western civilization. I don’t feel like these accusations are fair to make about aboriginal education. John Dewey descendants feel that aboriginal education is a waste of time and money in “feel good activities”. Although I have never been within the setting of an Aboriginal education class, I imagine aboriginal people have different beliefs on the matter. I believe that these activities are very important to their culture and play a vital part in their holistic approach towards education. Aboriginal educator Audrey Richard states how this leads to more than just academic success, but how completing educational training affects their students work and lives.
      In order to have education in Canada based on integration, western and aboriginal culture both need to be more open minded. We can’t expect one culture to completely abandon their own traditions and rights. How can we expect aboriginals to integrate into our culture, when most people from a western culture would be unwilling to live on a reserve? Many people wouldn’t even consider that a serious option. So how can we expect aboriginal people to leave their tradition and culture behind, when were not willing to do the same?

  2. I must begin by stating that I am yet to develop a response I am able to articulate on the matter of integration vs. separate education. I believe I feel too strongly on both fronts. However, worth addressing within this blog are Chief John Snow’s ideas found in the second and fourth paragraphs. Why is it that non-Native children are not taught in an Indigenous manner? Has this been considered on a realistic professional manner? I want venture and suggest that the world would in fact be a “healthier” place both socially and environmentally if this was done.
    For Indigenous populations land and identity are inseparable realities. It is only the dualism of modernity or Western thought that compartmentalizes these realities; one labeled geo-political and the other socio-cultural. Indigenous philosophy puts more of an emphasis on terra firma. Terra firma is the place where, for the Indigenous population, community happens; it is the interaction between Creator, creation, and human beings.
    Richard Twiss suggests that culture might be defined as the spirit and soul of a community of people mingling with the resources on the earth. That a holistic, growing, healthy and life-giving/sustaining community must be considered as the interaction between/within the diverse expressions of human and non-human creation living in harmony together (Twiss 21). Therefore, my suggestion is that as a Western cultured education system is that Chief John Snow is right. It is time we listen to those who came before us; we have much to learn.

  3. This topic is a difficult one to figure out the perfect solution for. I do believe that Aboriginals should not need separate schools from everyone else though, as we all live in the same country and should learn to work with each other. Although it would be more work for us as teachers, we should pay more attention to small ways that we could teach all of the students about the Aboriginal lifestyle, and maybe even adding some activities into our schedules that correspond with the Aboriginal way of life.
    Another idea of what could be done is to have separate culture classes for Aboriginal students. This would be beneficial for everyone. The Aboriginals would still learn about their native culture, while still going to the same school as everyone else. This solution, though, does not address the fact that the rest of Canada is not learning about the native Aboriginal culture.
    It seems like, no matter what kind of solution you come up with, one group of people will be at a disadvantage. For example, integrating Aboriginal people into a public school will assimilate the Aboriginals. As a result, they will not learn as many skills about the land as their ancestors once did. On the contrary, like the article stated, people do not believe that Aboriginal education is of the highest quality. This means that there is a good chance that the rest of Canada would be opposed to going to an Aboriginal school.
    I do really enjoy the point that is made about how a Canadian’s achievement is measured by the ability to graduate, but the success of an Aboriginal depends on the life after graduation. I believe this is one point that should be focused on more in the public school system in Canada.

  4. My stance on this whole debate is currently in the process of formation, so I guess all I can say is every point I see in the matter, from a (hopefully) neutral standpoint.
    On the surface, the idea of “Aboriginal Education” as a university course seems racist to me. It implies that these people are different and need to be treated differently. At the same point in time though, I want a course to learn about the teachings passed down among the Aboriginal people.
    I am in favour of integration because I feel every culture has something to contribute to the whole that is humanity. Prior to yesterday’s class I would have stated that I felt that we need to strive for equality across the board, but Robert made an excellent point in stating that they were here first and the Europeans came to them, unlike the African-American slaves who were forcibly brought over.
    When I see people saying that they want Aboriginal children taught in traditional ways I wonder why no person of any other culture group wants to be taught in the traditional manner of their heritage. I personally would really like to take some classes on ancient Irish and Scottish traditions, even learn Gaelic, but we are not given that opportunity.
    All of this really points to the fact that I really have no concrete stance on the matter. I have variables on either side of the argument to take into consideration. But I guess that’s why this is such a long-standing argument in our country; because there are no easy answers…

  5. Separated vs. integration? Personally I don’t know much about Aboriginal Education or Aboriginal community to fairly judge it, critic it, or praise it. However, I do know that while studying in the Education program the word integration has reoccurred numerous times. Throughout Special Ed., ESL, between different courses taught etc, so I don’t see how this should be any different. Our society is becoming more communal and so it should be, we should be working together to meet everyone’s different needs. Especially in the wide diversity of Canada, I think it is important to learn about all our students, their culture and values and incorporate them all in the classroom. So I believe that yes, I think integration is important. Non-Aboriginals should learn about the Aboriginal community, traditions and beliefs and vice- versa.
    Now having said that I am interested to see if my belief will change throughout the course. Like I said I don’t know much about the separated education program so I am looking forward to studying it in more depth.

  6. There are two critical issues that I feel need to be addressed when discussing the matter of integrated vs. separate Aboriginal education.

    First and foremost is the matter of self-determination; namely recognizing that First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples possess inalienable rights deriving from their status as distinct nations, a designation not coterminous with notions of statehood in international law (See the UN Atlantic Charter, UN Resolution 1514, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). The principle of national self-determination is THE fundamental principle in international law, a fact that has even been recognized (somewhat belatedly) by ministers of “Indian” Affairs in Canada (Allmand, “Indigneous Rights”, 335). The distinct status of Aboriginal peoples living within the borders of present-day Canada is, furthermore, indicated by the nation to nation negotiation of treaties throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the recognition of the rights of Aboriginal peoples in Section 35 of the repatriated (1982) Canadian Constitution. I will return to these matters shortly, but let us move on to the second issue I wanted to raise.

    I believe the challenge of dealing with "many entrenched interests", noted by Robert at the close of his post warrants some reflection. Although there are undeniably entrenched interests on every side of a contentious issue I feel it to be (and you may certainly disagree with me here) disingenuous to seek out the entrenched interests of “others” without examining one’s own first. Why for instance do many non-Aboriginal Canadians still feel they should have a role in determining what type of education Aboriginal children receive? Why as noted in a 2012 article by Gerald Fallon and Jerald Paquette in the Canadian Journal of Education Administration and Policy do

    "current policies of devolution in First-Nations education pursue their quest to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of what was and is currently done, without disturbing it, without disturbing basic organizational features, without substantially altering the way that First Nations and non-First-Nation communities perform their respective roles with regard to education in the relevant power structure."(17)

    In examining what “our” (that is non-Aboriginal, like myself) interests are I believe we need to be candid and reflect upon the disjuncture between our sense of entitlement to decide what is best for “others” and the core legal and philosophical principles upon which international and Canadian societies are built. If the latter mean anything to us the answer to the question of integrated vs separate Aboriginal education is one that can only be answered by listening to Aboriginal peoples and recognizing they possess the same rights of national self-determination that English and French Canadians do. This would undoubtedly entail massive change, the possibility of which is often, and understandably, unsettling. When confronted with such change I have always found the words of Edward Said helpful:

    "No one finds it easy to live uncomplainingly and fearlessly with the thesis that human reality is constantly being made and unmade, and that anything like a stable essence is constantly under threat. Patriotism, extreme xenophobic nationalism, and downright unpleasant chauvinism are common responses to this fear. We all need some foundation on which to stand; the question is how extreme and unchangeable is our formulation of what this foundation is." (333)

  7. What Aboriginal Education should be, is no doubt, a controversial topic. In order to fully answer this question, I need to know what encompasses Aboriginal Education so that I can critically examine the topic. However, this is a blog post, and not an extensive essay, so my uniformed opinion will have to do for the time being.

    I think that Aboriginal Education should first of all be honest. When discussing Aboriginal issues and the history of Aboriginal people in Canada, the discussion should not be one-sided and unfair. The facts should be stated, and no evidence should be covered-up. I think honesty and equity ought to be the foundations of Aboriginal Education if it already isn’t.

    I think that Aboriginal Education should not be firmly grounded in a particular ideology and political movement, and therefore should be open to evolution and change. I wonder if the goals and ideals of Aboriginal leaders forty years ago are the same goals and ideals that they advocate for today. Society has rapidly changed in the past forty years, so I would hope that the goals and ideals of Aboriginal Education have changed too. Aboriginal Education programs should constantly be re-evaluated, to ensure that their goals and aspirations match-up with what is realistic and attainable. Some goals and ideals have already been met, and new problems constantly arise. As a result, Aboriginal Education should reflect these developments.

    As long as Aboriginal Education is relevant to all those who participate in it, then everyone will benefit from it. If on the other hand, Aboriginal Education serves the purpose of a few, then there won’t be a real improvement in the aboriginal community and the teachers who work with aboriginal children. The goal of Aboriginal Education should first and foremost be, to equip educators with tools and strategies so as to ensure that aboriginal students are given the same opportunities as their non-aboriginal peers.

    1. I often feel that while many talk about education as being the most important, really many interests would really prefer to discuss and fight about natural resources. There are quite a few chiefs that see resources and treaty implementation as being their principal goals when in negotiations with governments. The federal government also seems that they regard this as being the most important objective. In fact the government has said that their top priority is not education but the economy and creating jobs for Canadians. To create those jobs Canada has decided that it needs to deal with the uncertainty of the resources sector, Indigenous title and issues surrounding unresolved ownership of the land.

  8. Obviously there are no simple answers to the debate about Aboriginal Education. The term itself is rather ambiguous. Does it mean the education of Aboriginal students or does it refer to the incorporation of Aboriginal ideals into our existing education system? Should these ideals be taught to everybody or just be made available to Aboriginal students? Should they be taught as a way to foster relationships and attitudes of understanding or should they be adopted as Canadian ideals and used in all aspects of education all the time?
    I come from a community where nearly two fifths of the students in the school division are Aboriginal, yet teachers struggle to find ways to hold the interest of these students and they struggle to connect with the families. On top of that there are only a handful of teachers of Aboriginal descent. There is a clear need for a break in the cycles of stereotyping, hopelessness on all sides of the issue, and apathy, but where do you start? Is it the responsibility of the teachers, the parents, the leaders in the community, the school board, or the students themselves? How can we convince everyone to work together towards a solution that satisfies all parties? The thing is: these issues don’t apply only to Aboriginal students. I would say there are just as many non-Aboriginal students that don’t make it to school as much as they should, often for reasons beyond their control, and who struggle from a lack of family support which is also not usually the intention or fault of the parent(s). The reality is that for many people, Aboriginal or not, surviving is the only thing on their mind. As far as they are concerned, education takes a back seat to putting food on the table for their brothers and sisters or getting them to bed on time because one or more parents has to work late in order to pay the rent.
    My point is that I don’t even think it is a matter of integrating versus incorporating ideals. We already are living together, going to school together, and getting jobs together. I think it is a matter of “breaking the cycle”; the cycle of apathy, the cycle of mistrust and misunderstanding, even the cycle of poverty. Then we can begin to really LIVE together, LEARN together, and WORK together.

  9. I have to be honest and say that I understand very little about Aboriginal education. I am not exactly sure exactly how education that the Aboriginal peoples receive differs from that of what we could call a Western education.
    I agree that we need to learn about one another’s cultures. Aboriginals view the world in a very different way and the only way to properly understand why and perhaps see from their viewpoint is to learn about the Aboriginal culture. That being said, I am not quite sure where I stand on the topic of integrating the education systems in Canada. Would it be possible to produce an education that fits and appeals to both cultures? Is it beneficial to society to integrate education? Integration, if done properly, could help contribute to a sense of belonging, understanding, and companionship between the two cultures. However, if done improperly one culture may slip underneath the surface and be ignored. On the other hand, having a separate education system does not help each culture to learn about the other and creates a feeling of separation and isolation between cultures. The comment made by Chief John Snow is a valid one and while it may not be practical or even possible to act on the suggestion, it is worth considering and evaluating what kind of impact this kind of education would have on society. What would we learn and how could we benefit? I am not sure where I stand on this issue on whether to integrate education or to keep them separate as I still understand very little about the Aboriginal education, but it is definitely an issue that needs addressing and serious consideration from those who understand it best.

  10. While I'm still developing a concise statement regarding the purpose of education, the idea most often settled upon is that the education system should create contributing citizens of both the country and the world. These citizens are to contribute by working together for the common good of Canada and its place in the global community. It is thought that these citizens will do so by contributing politically, financially, environmentally and socially. At this point I am under the impression that education should lead students to work together to create something rather than separate the peoples of our country based on colour or culture.
    Canada for some time has been regarded as being a great place to live because it allows you to maintain your culture while living amongst a mosaic of other cultures. In my opinion Aboriginal Education at its best would be integrated into the current system. It would appear that all Canadian students could benefit from a more holistic education, including Aboriginal traditions, along with the current career-driven system. An integration of Aboriginal Education into the current system could do just this for Aboriginal students along with their non-Aboriginal peers. It is no secret that many Aboriginals live in poverty in Winnipeg’s urban centers or in deteriorating situations on reserves. Could a greater respect for traditional Western education by aboriginals combined with Western Canadians gaining more respect and desire for skills in Aboriginal tradition lead to a change in this situation?
    Putting aside for a moment the contents of Aboriginal Education and the current Manitoba curriculum, does the idea that great things happen when great minds come together, not stand? It is in my opinion that the best pieces of Aboriginal culture can be combined with the best pieces of current curriculum to create an even better education system. While I will not go so far as to say that the current state of education is producing ideal and fully contributing citizens, I do not believe it best to separate any of Canada’s citizens from contributing to the country.

  11. I’m honestly not even sure where to begin with this post. I feel like “Aboriginal Education” as a whole is quite a large topic. I enjoyed the fact that this post displayed each of the contrasting viewpoints without presenting a bias. I personally appreciated the comments that Chief Snow made. I feel like it was a step in the right direction to present “Aboriginal Education” in a more positive light. I thought it was an interesting point to suggest non-Aboriginal children be educated within the reserve system. I feel like that is more or less what the non-Aboriginal people have been striving for, for years with the Aboriginal children. As far as whether segregation or integration is the better method, that is still a huge question. I can honestly say that I can’t confidently argue one side over the other without doing more research. Let me just end by saying that I agree that culture definitely plays a very important role in the lives of us all; therefore I feel it should be integrated into the education. I also feel that history has proven time and again that removing the child from the culture is not a benefit to the child. While reading this post I kept thinking back to all I know about the Residential School system; that for all the good intentions they had, they had a detrimental effect on the children who attended them. As far as the question of which method is better integration or segregation is concerned, I still do not have an answer.

  12. The discussion regarding what Aboriginal education is, should be, and/or needs, is surely a debate that will continue for decades. My personal views on the matter are still developing with each and every year from the new information I come across as I learn more about the Aboriginal people and culture.
    I find that I am not on one concrete side of whether Aboriginal education should be referred to, and become "integration" or " separation" from the Canadian/Manitoba Education system. I feel like both sides of the coin have positive attributes to society and undoubtedly, also negatives. In my honest opinion, I feel like there should be a choice for both, depending what each family values and deems important to personal growth. The Canadian education system is geared toward equipping students with the tools to ensure that our future has well rounded" adults, versed in mathematics, history, social studies, french ( if one chooses..) with many opportunities granted outside the obligated school hours for further studies ( ie: language studies, such as the Polish that I took after school). These core courses are integral to thriving according to Western standards, that values such education. Thus, I am more inclined to believe that 'integrating' aboriginals into this particular school system isn't intentionally aiming to harm or devalue Aboriginal culture, it is merely providing an equal ( although debatable as well..) platform for success on the same terms with the wide range of cultures inhabited within Canadian borders. On the other hand, I understand that the value of Aboriginal culture to Canadian identity is a different matter as well. It's clear I truly just do not know what the best solution for both "worlds" is. My mostly uneducated feelings would be geared towards just trying to integrate more Aboriginal studies within the Canadian curriculum (that will provide a more holistic approach to learning) and thus that way both sides are educated in the area of our Aboriginal people, and prepared for the current expectations of the economy and country itself.

  13. Reading through this blog and then some of the replies it seems I am like most of my classmates and I am still developing an opinion on the topic of Aboriginal Education. I have lived in a small city outside Winnipeg for my whole life where there are 3 reserves within 20 minutes with a large population of Aboriginal People within the community itself. We attended the same schools so my initial reaction to separation vs. integration is integration. We live and work together, could we not be educated together? In the first class when Robert asked if anyone has been to a pow-wow before, a few classmates put up their hands but I was in the majority that kept my hand down. So why is it if I expect the people from the reserves to come to the community for primarily ‘Western’ school but I haven’t gone to the reserve to take in a pow-wow? I think there needs to be a shift in the thinking that integration is: Aboriginal Culture will be integrated to ‘Western’ culture to integration between Aboriginal and Western Culture. I agree with Audrey Richard about how success should not only be measured by academic success but ‘the way the student works and lives after.’ I know as an educator this will be a continuing debate that plagues education in Canada. I realize that it is a process of reflection as to what I believe as an educator and will continue to shift as I learn more about the Aboriginal culture.

  14. I will have to admit I have never taken an Aboriginal Education course in my school career so far. I have been going to school for over twenty years and starting to wonder why not? I find it hard to take a stance on such an important issues such as ‘integration and segregation’ of Aboriginal Education when I feel like I’m lacking the required knowledge to do so. I’m starting to realize the importance of how terms are defined by individual people, segments of society and society as a whole. The word ‘integration’ can seem positive but also negative, depends who is looking at it and from what point of view. Even when a term such as ‘integration’ is agreed upon, the issue of who should integrate is still prevalent. I really liked the quote from Chief Snow, “Let the neighbouring communities bring their children onto our reserve and we’ll do our best to integrate them’. I know personally, numerous people (friends, educators, political figures) who would do just as the article notes, take this stance as sort of a joke. It seems when it is in their favour, ‘integration’ seems like a great idea, the answer! But how can it be ‘right’ from one point of view, but taken as a joke when the idea is reversed? I’m having a difficult time trying to wade through the positive and negative aspects of the ‘integration vs. segregation’ debate on Aboriginal Education. On one hand, it seems beneficial to integrate Aboriginal Education into the school systems already established because ‘academic success’ (graduating) is an outcome required for many careers and considered preparation in becoming a productive citizen in society. But then again, who said the public school systems definition of what a good ‘citizen’ is the right one? Maybe this type of education only prepares students for the dominant ‘White’ view of society? Which in turn is desperately lacking what aboriginal cultures see as important qualities in a ‘good citizen’? Furthermore, the question of segregation is still an option. I have a hard time with this idea because it just seems like we are going backwards; separating based on ethnicity, culture, and history. But is there a better way?

  15. After reading the blog posting I would have to agree that integration would be a better course of action. I believe it would be easier to expand the curriculum to include aboriginal teachings and history.

    This being said my reasoning for this instead of separate aboriginal education is as follows. The number of qualified teachers needed for the schools. As pointed out in the blog "Few actually understand many of the ideas and the historical developments surrounding Aboriginal education." Another example for this would be looking at french immersion schools. There is a need for french immersion teachers in the science and math departments.( Pg.88 Becoming A Teacher, Fourth edition)

    And if there where separate aboriginal education schools will there be enough qualified teachers to fill all those positions? And now how do you attract these teachers to come teach at these schools. As Robert pointed out in class many reserve schools are underfunded and their budgets only increase at the rate of inflation. This will make it much harder to attract qualified teachers to take the positions at these schools.

    In closing I would like to reiterate that it would be much easier to just expand the current western curriculum to include more aboriginal teachings and history.

  16. I understand the argument over integrated versus separated aboriginal education not to be simply two sided, yet very complex and holding many different stand points. Education in general is extremely important to further people and their individual societies. Without education we keep repeating the past and even more detrimental to progression, the mistakes our society have made in the past. I have a very brief understanding of aboriginal history and what I have heard of as being referred to as “Manitoba’s Holocaust”, which took place in the residential school systems. From what I do know, I understand the want for separate education of aboriginal children. On top of past aboriginal experiences, there is also the fact that many aboriginals live a very different lifestyle then people in public schools, with one example being their strong connection to the environment. On the other hand, it could be argued that integrated education would benefit for the purpose of post secondary education through getting young aboriginal learners ready for how our university and college systems curriculum work.

    My personal standpoint would have to be for integrated education. We should start teaching young children the truth about what we as Manitobans’ have done in the past and use it as a teaching tool to introduce that not everyone lives the same lifestyle because our society is diverse and complex. We could also use aboriginal teachings such as the strong connection to nature to teach children the importance of respecting their environments. Another useful teaching tool from aboriginal lessons is respect for elders, which could be expanded to teach respect for everyone. I look forward to learning more about aboriginal school practices and broadening my insight on traditional teachings such as the Sundance and other traditional values.

  17. The issue at hand is very complex and there is seemingly no correct answer. I have some knowledge of aboriginal culture and I have learned about the residential school system in school and here at the university.

    If I l were to advocate for a specific solution, I would suggest that some form of aboriginal education be integrated into the curriculum for all Canadian students. I believe the education I have received about aboriginal people has been beneficial to me. The education of all non native people should include the history of residential schools since one of the purposes of education is to talk about our past mistakes to ensure we do not repeat them. I believe people need to have a greater respect for the different cultures of the aboriginal people. I know certain individuals my age with no education on residential schools have a much different view of aboriginal people than I do. Their view is often negative and racist; I believe education is the key to ridding this problematic perspective. Also, there are many holistic aspects to aboriginal education that I believe would appeal and be beneficial to many young students. Last, aboriginal thinking and practice is part of our culture as Canadians and should be studied.

    In regards to the education of the aboriginal children, I believe it is not for me to decide what is better. The past tells us that no one should force aboriginal children into any education that is not native to their culture. I do believe the current education system in public schools could be beneficial in regards to future careers or preparing youth for post secondary education. However, that is just my current view and I look forward to learning more about aboriginal education and seeing if my opinion changes.

  18. The question of the day is “What Should Aboriginal Education be?” What should that 'look' like? It is difficult to answer such a question without first understanding what non-Aboriginal Education is.

    As future professionals, we are taught many tools in the provision of schooling, but we rarely discuss the purposes of schooling. Do we provide schooling to develop social skills, to foster an appreciation of the Arts, to learn about other cultures, to prepare children for the next level of education, to allow students to compete in the modern economy, or do we teach our kids how to use 21st century technologies? Of course there is no easy answer, and as far as I know, there is not a single way to educate our children which is better than all the rest. There are a lot of choices to be made when delivering education – and the system is structured such that communities have considerable power to make these choices.

    We, in Winnipeg and other parts of the province, have a fair amount of local control, or autonomy, when it comes to Provincially funded schools. Communities, trustees, parents, and the students themselves provide input in the direction and oversight of schools and schooling. Do communities always get their way? No. Is the system structured such that the pressing needs and wants of the community are addressed and can be heard? Definitely.

    Local control over schooling is a gift and a great responsibility. I value my and my neighbours' rights and abilities to influence the schools in our community. So instead of answering the question of what Aboriginal Education should be, I graciously defer to those people who identify with those communities to make their own decisions. I would expect nothing less myself.

  19. The question of whether or not Aboriginal education should be integrated or separated is one that I’m not even sure where to start. I have never taken an Aboriginal education course before and therefore feel that I don’t have the background knowledge to come to an absolute answer. However, I do think it’s a shame that through 18+ years of schooling there is little that I could tell you about Aboriginal education (or history). This causes me to believe that there needs to be some sort of integration in our school system to allow for future generations to grow up knowing about the traditions, history and culture of Aboriginal people.

    In general, I think it is important for students to learn about the various different cultures that our society is made up of. While this does include Aboriginals, it also means that schools that have large immigration populations should take that into account and make it important for the students to learn about the cultures of the different students in their classrooms. Giving students opportunities to present their culture and traditions to their classmates will help build a stronger classroom community.

    Aboriginal educator Aubrey Richard makes a good point that the measure of success of a student should not only be determined by whether or not they have a university education, but should take into account what type of life they lead and the type of person they are. These are values that I think are sometimes missing from today’s society, and we could all benefit from taking on a similar viewpoint. It is statements like these that make me believe that integration is the way to go.

    There is no easy answer to the debate of separation vs. integration, but I hope that for myself taking this course will help provide me with the knowledge to help me come to my own (educated) answer to this question.

  20. I feel that Aboriginal education can be a very delicate subject for some Canadians as opinions regarding it vary so tremendously. Everybody holds their own biases depending on their personal experiences. I believe that it is important for children to learn about other cultures and peoples as it teaches them empathy and different ways of viewing their experiences. I don't agree with the idea of separating children in their education as it could develop a divide between these children, who may find conflict with each other as adults. I also believe that it is important to give children a standard education which gives them equal footing as adults on a professional level. Any type of education will have it's own advantages and disadvantages, why not take positive traits of each system and incorporate them into something greater? This could appease complaints held by either side while integrating children in a wonderfully diverse school system. Separating children in their education will only serve to drive them apart, if we want to get to the root of our cultural problems we need to start with our youth.

  21. We all have a role in Aboriginal Education. It is the history of this land in which we, as Canadians, live and work, learn and play. The history of our land affects our lives even today, centuries later, in ways we might not even be aware of consciously. If the history of Canada since the European colonization period is taught in schools, so too should the history of the peoples who came before be taught in the same schools.
    Separation of Aboriginal education is a disadvantage to us all. Children coming from all over the world to Canada are denied the learning of the history of this land, not only through curriculum, but also through their peers and neighbours. Canada is becoming increasingly diverse, welcoming people from countries all over the world, each carrying with them their own families’ heritages. Aboriginal peoples need to be at the forefront of the welcoming, teaching newcomers about their land, history, and practices. What an amazing example to the global community if we, as Canadians, could learn to accept our diversity and learn from each other the histories of peoples from around the world and live together peaceably.
    I understand this viewpoint is highly ideological, and to see it in practice would require an outstanding amount of sacrifice from everyone. I do not have a list of ideas of how to see this put into practice, but I’m hoping that this class will allow me to understand the history of Aboriginals and their practices of education.
    I agree that the current system of education is not beneficial to the whole of Canada and all her peoples. I believe the first step to solving this issue is to have conversations with a variety of people, as we are doing so in this class. These conversations need to happen on local, provincial and national levels in order for a solution that may benefit everyone can be reached and implemented.

  22. Much like delivering the content in multiple ways to reach all learners, I would think that the same strategies could be used to reach aboriginal students. In light of Gardner’s model of multiple intelligences (rhythmic, spatial, linguistic, mathematical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, existential), in which learners are better at taking in information in a certain way and not as good in other ways. For myself, I learn and retain information best from a kinesthetic or spatial presentation, and am not as efficient through a linguistic source. Similarly, as educators we should be delivering lessons in a variety of ways to reach each learner, with their individual needs; now, these same techniques could be used to reach aboriginal learners as well. Everyone comes to class with their own story, their own individual needs if you will. Not the aboriginal learners learn differently as a whole, but I would assume would score all across Gardner’s model. For me, this all seems to come down to pre-testing or assessing for learning to figure out how the particular students in your class learn, then delivering the content in those ways. As a teacher delivering content, explain it, have it written down, act it out, and deliver the same message in as many ways as possible simultaneously to reach as many learners as you can. Also, students can be more or less successful depending on how they are expected complete assignments. Give multiple options for assessment completion, to be more equitable. Equitable would be giving learners the opportunity to arrive at the same end point, where equal provides the opportunity to start from the same place. However, students to not arrive to class at the same starting point. Provide opportunities for success for all.

  23. I would like to start by saying that this is a very complicated and fragile issue. On the one hand I understand Chief John Snow’s argument for a separate indigenized education system with access to similar resources as the public system. However, I believe that this system would be doing the youth population a disservice and would be unable to set them up for a long term successful future. This is because the indigenized system when compared to the western education system does not provide enough opportunity to gain the crucial skills necessary to gain future employment upon graduation such as, math and writing skills and for example writing a proper resume. "The Aboriginal population is the fastest growing population in Canada, and is also much younger than the non-Aboriginal population. Between 1996 and 2006, Canada’s Aboriginal population grew by 45 per cent while Canada’s non-Aboriginal population grew by just 8 per cent." (Statistics Canada, 2006 Census). Even with this substantial increase in population aboriginal peoples continue to be underutilized in Canada's workforce. This is due to a variety of reasons including, lack of, experience, post-secondary degrees and basic reading and writing skills. With Canada’s non-aboriginal population aging I feel it is crucial that both the indigenized and western education systems provide a balanced educational experience working together to improve the lives of all Canadians. I agree with elder Winston Wuttunee that aboriginal peoples have a lot to offer and a special role to play within society. That being said, I also agree with the Dean of Education at the University of Manitoba who stresses that student outcomes are tied to educational success meaning graduation. Moving forward I believe that both the indigenous and western education systems both play an important role in Canadian society and the delicate balance between them is the crucial ingredient that is needed in order to try and meet the variety of needs of all Canadians.

  24. “Of course I believe in integrated education. Let the neighbouring communities bring their children onto our reserve and we’ll do our best to integrate them” (book These mountains are our sacred places). I have never thought about integration in this way before and I believe that if we did take it seriously it might actually do a lot of good for society to understand aboriginal ways and beliefs.

    “Aboriginal educator Audrey Richard writes that success should be much more holistic taking into account not only academic success, but the way the student works and lives after they have completed some educational training.” I would have to agree with this statement but the fact of the matter is that we live in a society now where academic success is, most often, the main factor in getting a quality high paying job. This will have a direct affect on how a student lives after they have completed their training.

    It’s hard to comment on Aboriginal education without understanding what it is. Is there a reason why Aboriginal education is seen as “wishy-washy”? What are the ideas that are being taught? Will these ideas help Aboriginal students find jobs and succeed in western society? Is western society even considered or discussed? Should western society be considered and discussed? I think without knowing what Aboriginal education is, most people’s first assumptions are that it has little to do with western culture, which there for wont help these kids integrate into society, which will continue a cycle of dependence.

    I do not know a lot about Aboriginal education and I wish to learn more but my first thoughts are unfortunately negative. I think that public awareness of what is being taught in the Aboriginal education system would help uneducated negative assumptions from taking place.

  25. There is a strong debate for both sides of the integration versus the separation of aboriginal students in regards to education. Integration is the mixing of traditional aboriginal teachings with those taught to children in Canadian society, while separation is solely teaching aboriginal children traditional practices. I have yet to form a decisive opinion on what I believe to be best for aboriginal children and also don’t think anyone should decide for them but instead leave the decision in the hands of the child themselves, with the help of their parents or guardians. That being said, I believe that children from a young age are capable of forming some ideas of where they want their education to go. They can get advice from their family members and elders about what skills they already possess and what interests them at a young age in regards to career choices and choose schooling options from there. One reason I believe integrated education may be a better choice for some students is in regards to Canadian post secondary education. Due to the way that post secondary institutions such as universities and colleges operate, I feel the best approach for aboriginal education is integration if the child shows interest in pursuing schooling after high school. Through integration children learn from a young age how post secondary institutions operate, as they hold a strong reliance on test scores and writing essays for grades. Through integration, aboriginal children receive skills on Canadian school practices but also learn about their own culture which is equally as important. I strongly believe that no matter what race or religion, knowing where you come from is extremely important for developing a sense of self, community and values. In conclusion, I think that both forms of education hold vital information for the child, as traditional practices and teaching hold information not seen in Canadian curriculum.

  26. Most of my knowledge of the Reserve School System comes from a classmate. A fellow student in the Faculty of Education, who I will refer to as Student, graduated from a high school in Norway House, Manitoba and entered directly into the University 1 program. When asked about her experience in a reserve school the recurring comment that was made by Student is that she did not feel prepared when she left high school. She felt as though many of her classmates were passed on simply to keep a group together, regardless of skill level or understanding. She felt that many of the lessons did not have a strong purpose or at least it was a purpose she could not see at the time.
    Student found that this practice created an ineffective classroom. There were often situations where a teacher would only engage half of the class because the subject or idea was so far beyond understanding without the proper scaffolding from previous years of study. While Student felt that the subjects and ideas being taught were mostly beneficial, she felt as though there was no one who was ultimately responsible for student success. Student knows there are some success stories coming out of her school, she considers herself one of them because she went on to University, has graduated with one degree already and is working towards her second. Student also knows that many of her classmates are not as successful as she has been. Some of them found jobs in the community or somewhere nearby, while many others are fully supported by the government. Student has a sister who moved and is now attending a provincial school and feels it is a better system. Student find that the teachers are more involved and thinks this may be because the teachers have someone holding them responsible for student success.
    When asked about having a specialized curriculum for Aboriginal students, Student did not think this was the answer for all students. Student does not disagree with what is being taught in Provincial Schools and thinks that a focus needs to be on the individual learner. She does not believe that all Aboriginal students will learn and succeed in the same way simply because they are Aboriginal. Student thought it would instead be better to incorporate traditional Aboriginal teaching and culture into all schools because she feels that many students would benefit from learning about the culture.

  27. I think the fact that I, a university educated individual know very little about Aboriginal history and culture is a telling point in the integration vs. separation debate. Both sides make interesting arguments and have thoughtful points however; I think the main focus should be what do we want to achieve and then how to achieve those goals. I think that Robert raised a really good point in his blog post about how we view success whether it is academic or holistic. Before we can fully decide to integrate, separate, or something else entirely we need to take a closer look at what the issues are and what our long-term goals are going to be.

    I do not believe that integration is the answer but nor do I believe we should separate. I think that Chief John Snow’s quote in the article about integrating non-Aboriginal students into Aboriginal schools was significant. We have to stop looking at things from one perspective and start understanding from all perspectives. I think that it is important for all individuals to learn from other cultures and it would be a shame for schools to separate and only focus on their own cultures. Aboriginal education for everyone would give students a greater understanding of each other and in the long run would make for a better society.

    Canada is a multi-cultural country and schools are taking the steps to embrace everyone yet Aboriginal education seems to be the most controversial. I was recently in a school where students could learn French, German, and Spanish but there was not a single option for Aboriginal language. You do not have to be French or Ukrainian to learn and appreciate those languages so the same applies to Aboriginal languages. I think that if everyone had the opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal culture and history then we would be more likely to appreciate and understand together. By working together then perhaps we would give everyone the opportunity for success; holistic and academic.

  28. The whole integration versus separation debate over aboriginal education in public schools is a difficult topic to discuss due to the cultural and emotional attachments that many individuals and groups have to it. As for myself, I do not believe that the separation side of the argument is a viable option. It might seem to be a simple solution at face value, but there are some major concerns allotted with this approach (Standards, equality, societal cohesion, and opportunity are a few that spring to mind). We know from history that even with the best of intentions, a segregated approach often leads to animosity and conflict. Acceptance and understanding would be much better served with cooperative and integrated learning environments.

    That leaves the integration approach. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed within this strategy, but the underlying philosophy gives it integrity. The major obstacle with integrating these cultural values into a bureaucratic public school system is maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the culture. The secular environment of today’s public schools would limit the scope of what can be explored in indigenous beliefs. My fear is that this would result in a watered down, standardized, and ultimately meaningless aspect of the curriculum.

    Any strategy towards this goal should concern itself with the values and intentions of the aboriginal community first, and try to apply that to the curriculum second. Any other method could result in a forced, ingenuine, or even exploitive program. Balancing the beliefs of aboriginals with other cultural groups will be another major concern.

    That being said, I feel that there is a dire need for educating non-aboriginal people about aboriginal culture. I grew up in a homogenously white rural community near two reserves, and their attitudes towards aboriginals are something you would expect from 50 years ago. There is an extreme lack of understanding of their culture, the challenges they face, and the role they have to play in society. To face this animosity it is immensely important that a strong, genuine approach be taken towards educating today’s students. As was quoted in the article aboriginals have a “special role to play.”

  29. In response to the idea that we need aboriginal education I am torn as to what is best for aboriginal children, children, Canadians and Canada. On one hand I think that we all need a standard, structured education, but on the other hand I know that we need a sense of ourselves, our beliefs and our culture. It is important for everyone to work together for the greater good of our society and that will not happen if people feel like they are not valued within it. Since when do we put a monetary value on a human life? For this reason I am morally opposed to the line that said aboriginal education provides “little useful marketable skills”, as if this is the most important aspect to life; how someone contributes to driving the economy and increasing the GDP. Our society is decidedly focused on measuring people on material value as opposed to measuring people on a more ethical basis. It seems to imply that we do not care if you are happy, confident or in tune with your inner beauty as long as you possess marketable skills, go to work and pay your taxes. I believe that our society has grown very distant from the true values of life which should better reflect family, friendship, love, honesty, praise, appreciation, and thankfulness. If there is a culture, or hopefully cultures, that can help our delusional society get back to the truth and beauty that reflect the real human potential for love, justice and appreciation I would be all for this sort of education. In this way aboriginal cultures have a unique understanding of our connection to the earth, to the Creator force, and to each other which is priceless. For this reason I think it is imperative that there is an aboriginal education, and maybe if we are so blessed, they just might share this education with the rest of us.

  30. It is difficult to try and make clear my position on education, and Aboriginal education in particular, within a short response. The Aboriginal people have passed on many of their customs and traditions so that their culture has not disappeared into mainstream society. But there are troubling statistics that make the current system of education for Aboriginals seem unsustainable. The Aboriginal graduation rate from high school is significantly lower than the national average, as well as the graduation rate from university ( Employment is also a troubling statistic. There are historical reasons for why many Aboriginal people have been put at a disadvantage but without any major changes it does not seem these statistics will change.

    In your blog you mention how Chief John Snow makes a statement inviting neighbouring communities to have their children educated on the reserve. It seems unfair to tell Aboriginal people that they must leave their reserves in order to receive an education. But I do not think it is fair to say it would be the same to ask other communities to have their children leave in order to get an education. I do think that where economical schools should be provided on reserves. But if we want to ensure that future generations of Aboriginal people can be equal to the rest of Canadians on a wide variety of statistics then we must ensure that just like all Canadians they have access to the resources available. French people in and outside of Quebec have been able to maintain their culture while integrating into the structures of education Canada has to offer. And many other ethnic groups are alive and thriving in Canada even though they do not have separate education systems. Going to Folklorama is proof that Canada celebrates and maintains its cultural diversity.

    The fastest growing demographic in Canada is the Aboriginal community ( To ensure that Aboriginal people are given fair and equal opportunity to share in the wealth of this country we must ensure that a quality education system is available. It can be debated that a western education is not the best form of education but since we live in the western world and we have a capitalist economy the only way people can succeed economically is to ensure that they can compete within that world. In my opinion to argue that education needs to be more focused on how people live and work would require a complete overhaul of our society and economy.

    I will not claim to have the answers or pretend to be an expert on Aboriginal education. I want to learn more about it so that hopefully within my lifetime an enduring solution can be found. But I do think that some tough decisions will have to be made, and soon, to ensure that the Aboriginal people in Canada are no longer left behind (both in educational achievement, attainment, and employment) as they have been for so many generations.

  31. I do not have much experience or knowledge on the topic of Aboriginal Education and whether it should be integrated or separated. However, I do feel that every culture is important and they need to feel included. Integration is such a common word in Education, whether it is integration of ESL students, students with special learning needs, and so on. Our society is becoming such a diverse and accommodating place so how do we decide on what cultures are “important” enough to learn about in school? We are briefly introduced to different cultures in the education system but none of which are taught in great detail. Why is that? Personally I am unsure on whether or not Aboriginal Education should be taught in all schools because I lack the experience. As of right now I have not done any research on the topic but even after reading this blog post, my knowledge has expanded and I have begun to really think about my views on the topic.
    I enjoyed reading about Chief John Snow’s opinion on integrated education; I feel that it would be beneficial to have non-Aboriginal students attend school on a reserve and for the reserve to integrate them into their culture. Because the Aboriginal culture views the world in a much different way than other cultures, I feel it is important to become more educated with it in order to obtain a better understanding of their way of life.
    I think that Aboriginal Education is a very delicate and touchy subject for some and maybe this is a reason as to why it is so hard for the world to come to a conclusion on the question of integration vs. separation. Evidently I am not well educated on this question, but I look forward to learning more about it and developing as well as expanding my own thoughts and opinions on the topic.

  32. Dr. D.W. Penner School (Penner) in Winnipeg, Manitoba is embracing Aboriginal education as a way of teaching all students, not just those with Aboriginal heritage, about the importance of Aboriginal culture and knowledge. Penner is a small K-6 school with just over 100 students (1) and the principal explained, at a Professional Development Session I recently had the opportunity to attend, that a few years ago he found he needed a new approach to creating a school community. He had to rethink his approaches and one day he considered using the Aboriginal Seven Teachings as an encompassing school value system. Over two years the students have begun to learn about each of the Seven Teachings in detail, the school has been transformed in many different ways such as a tipi built in the library and resource room redecorated to incorporate the Seven Teachings, and the students have come to embrace Aboriginal culture through dance lessons, drumming performances and a puppet show. The school newsletter for October 2013 explained that Humility would be the focus for that month and stated: “We hope as we explore these teachings students will learn the importance of developing a good understanding of who they are and the impact they have on the world around them.” (2)

    There are so many ways to incorporate Aboriginal education into every classroom. I do not feel that it has to always be an Aboriginal person teaching the culture, although whenever possible I think that Elders or other Aboriginal people interested in sharing their knowledge should be welcomed into the classroom. I have used Rabbit and Bear Paws: Sacred Seven Series (Honesty), a children’s book by Aboriginal author Chad Solomon (3) as part of a lesson on synonyms. While my grade 1 and 2 students picked apart the book to find synonyms, we also discussed the concept of Honesty and that of the Kitch-Sabe (Big Foot). I think that there is something every student can learn from Aboriginal education which will be valuable and memorable, but it needs to be a collective effort made by all teachers, otherwise there is no way that all students can benefit from Aboriginal education.

    3. Solomon, C. & Leary, T. (2011). Rabbit and Bear Paws Sacred Seven (Honesty). Little Spirit Bear.

  33. Our Western Educational system has been developed over decades, and revisited and revised many times and in many ways. We are familiar with television images of children of different colours, sitting behind desks, raising hands and looking eagerly to be the first to answer a question posed by a teacher at the front of the room. While it could be argued that these images are hand-picked representations of colonialism meant to reinforce our educational practices as “best”, the reality exists that our cultural understanding of education is in a setting like this, with subject matter directly related to literacy and employability.

    For an education to be of value in our Western culture, it must be clearly quantifiably linked to academic success in the areas deemed most essential to success in life, that is, those that lead to graduation from University and viable employment. However, as a music teacher I see the value in teaching skills that are not directly related to employment. It has been well documented that children who receive a music and performing arts education markedly excel in other subjects (Brown, 2013). The problem is that the cause-effect journey is not clearly quantifiable. Thus, music, theatre, and visual arts programming goes underfunded in our schools and individual families are left to finance their own programs. We agree this type of education benefits children, but we don’t know the “how” and “why” of it, so it retains its reputation as a frivolous enrichment activity.

    Because the benefits of Aboriginal education cannot be studied and linked to success against the rigid Western measure of success, it is deemed unworthy of further study. Surely one could gather statistics, like those linking the Arts to success in Math, but why the need to measure only to this rubric? What about benefit to family unit, community-building, sense of belonging, awareness of one’s place in the world, empathy? Among peoples whose family structure has been long disrupted by the lasting effects of colonialism, these essential skills can no longer be assumed taught in the home. Indeed, all young Canadians could benefit from integration of Aboriginal Education and values for enrichment of the areas listed above.

    Brown, Laura Lewis (2013). The Benefits of Music Education. Retrieved from

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  35. While I don’t suppose most of the accusations mentioned are fair, I would also have to ask who would make such claims? I had a conversation with my mother about how interesting it is that nowadays, when immigrants come to Canada, their cultures are still intact and they are able to practice them. But something I hadn’t thought about before was, what if that was what Westerners had done when they first came to Canada in the first place? If one goes to Europe, one would adopt that lifestyle. If one goes to Japan, one must learn to move quickly and with the crowd. Curiously, we do not do this in Canada, as most people who move here are not made to live as Canada’s ancestors once did. I find this curious, and often wonder why the world is the way it is.

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    I would have to agree with Audrey Richard on this issue, that in order for school to be successful, every aspect of the child’s life has to be considered. A teacher’s students aren’t merely students, they are human beings like anyone else, with a family, hobbies, a past, and a culture. If we are to become better teachers, we must ourselves become students of the cultures and history our students have. The more we seek to know, the more we will understand and be better able to incorporate valuable knowledge into our classrooms.

  36. The debate weather Aboriginal people should have the same education as other Canadian children is extremely complex. From an outside perspective, it is hard to fully understand what and how aboriginal education differs from that of Canadian society, so I cannot fully debate either side of the issue. With that being said, it seems that integrating students from aboriginal, and non-aboriginal backgrounds is a more realistic view of education then separating students. Through working together, students are able to recognize the differences in culture and background, and celebrate those differences. The issue that then arises is the teachers lack the knowledge and experience to do so. I think there is also a fear of the unknown, with many choosing not to use aboriginal education in the classroom because they don’t understand it themselves. The best way to educate children, would be to start with the teachers, using both aboriginal and non-aboriginal perspectives to education. Children have a right to a quality education, and there is something to be learned from both, with each bringing important values and lessons to the table.

  37. As I read through Aboriginal Education: Canada’s Two Real Solitudes, I was intrigued with the perspectives that are showcased in this comment. I will describe my own take of the blog comment. I have had the great privilege to work with and teach others that are of various cultures. From my experiences, I believe that each culture has something rich and beautiful to bring to the classroom and Canada. That is why I am angered that some view Aboriginal education “as being wishy-washy, short on ideas, hard to understand, providing little useful marketable skills, less rigorous than a Western education, building to the lowest common dominator,” and so on (At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research, 2013). How can people be so cold to other cultures and the ideas they bring? Research has proven that people are cold to other cultures because they do not fully understand each of the cultures that are present in Canada (Dei, James, James-Wilson, Karumanchery, and Zine, 2000; Ketter and Lewis, 2001, Swetnam, 2003; Zine 2005). Thus, I believe that people should learn about various cultures so that they can truly understand each culture. I also think they need to discover the similarities among cultures so that they are able to form strong bonds with each other.
    I believe that each culture has its own set of beliefs and values because it deems these as being to vital to their survival and success. Thus, we need to realize that just because a culture has a different way of doing things, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. For instance, Aboriginal peoples have a very important worldview. Their worldview states that humans are living in a universe that was made by the Creator (Manitoba Education and Youth, 2003). It also states that humans need to live in harmony with nature, one another and with oneself (Manitoba Education and Youth, 2003). To me their worldview doesn’t sound wishy-washy, hard to understand, or unable to provide marketable skills. In fact, it is a very significant and simple worldview to follow. Also, strong interpersonal and communication skills (these would be stronger is we followed the Aboriginal worldview because people would learn how to communicate to each other in respectful and loving ways) are top skills that a person will need to have in order to work in any workplace. Thus, if we followed this worldview, we probably wouldn’t be facing all the environmental, political, economical, and social issues that we face today. In fact, we would be facing incredible success socially, environmentally, politically, and economically.
    Also, I believe that it is important to include Aboriginal perspectives for a couple of reasons. First, I think it’s important to include Aboriginal perspectives into lessons because I believe it is important for all students to understand the contributions made by all people in the development of Canada (Manitoba Education and Youth, 2003). Also, I believe that in order to get rid of the Aboriginal historical and social biases that have developed, students need to discover the importance, beauty, and richness of Aboriginal culture (Manitoba Education and Youth, 2003).
    Thus, I believe that inclusion of all cultures, including the Aboriginal cultures, is important to each school and classroom. If we can learn to respect and honour each cultures similarities and differences, then we can build a world that is filled with peace and love. Thus, as a teacher, I will make sure that the content of my lessons (e.g. books, videos) includes the contributions of various cultural groups and a broad range of views so that many knowledge systems can become part of the plural centre in educational discourse (Dei et al., 2000). Since each culture (including Aboriginal cultures) will be represented equally in class, students will gain respect and appreciation for other cultures. Thus, through these lessons, I will be able to get rid of the uneven power relations between and among cultural groups within the class as each cultural group will be represented fairly (Dei et al., 2000).

  38. Reading this blog about Aboriginal Education in Canada made me reflect upon my own knowledge and experiences with the subject. My only Aboriginal Studies course during my entire education will be EDUA 1500 with Professor Robert Ouellette. I think I would have benefited from such a course had it been offered as a class in high school. Too many of us grow up with little to no experience with Aboriginal teachings, and we become afraid to learn about the subject later on in life. I think that if I had been introduced to Aboriginal teachings early on, I would have a better understanding of their way of life. Most of my preconceptions of Aboriginal studies come from what I have read in print and seen on television. Having a First Nations leader teach a course in Aboriginal traditions and beliefs would help society establish a richer understanding based on first hand experience.

    Although I believe that incorporating Aboriginal Education into all school curricula is a good idea, at this time it seems unrealistic. There are constant media reports of First Nations leaders asking for greater school funding for Aboriginal Education but seldom do they report stories of success. The head of the Assembly of First Nations has recently tried to bring attention to the funding issue but to date, the results have been unsatisfactory. I hope that over time these issues can be resolved and Aboriginal Education can be introduced to some degree into every school.

  39. As a teacher, I want every student in my classroom feel happy, safe and accepted whether they are Aboriginal, Black, White or Asian, everyone deserves to learn. I also agree with Aboriginal educator, Audrey Richard, that success can not only be measured academically but also how much students learn about themselves and the happier, healthier lives they lead as a consequence (Article, 5th para). As for Aboriginal education, it should be a mutual decision between the minister of education and aboriginal leaders to decide whether they want to come to public schools and integrate like Chief Snow suggests (Article, 2nd para) or to create their own schools a safe place for their teachings (Article, 2nd para) to live on forever.
    There are many different choices of schools: public or private or independent schooling. However, there are a number of schools that operate outside the Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule. There are Ukrainian or German schools that teach on Saturdays so that their children gain a culture along with an education. There are also other faith based lessons like catechisms offered on week nights or Sundays. The same goes for any activity under the sun: swimming lessons, skating lessons, music lessons, acting lessons or any sporting event not offered through school. There are always options available to learn other teachings outside of school.
    The opportunity to learn is everywhere and available to everyone, “The First Nations world-view has demonstrated stamina that even though it has been attacked, harassed and victimized it has still persisted to this day”(Article, 4th para). I believe Aboriginals have the right to learn and that no man, white or aboriginal, can take that right away. However, how they choose to learn is up to them but they may have to make certain amendments just like everyone else who is unhappy with the current education system.

  40. With regards to the issue of how to approach Aboriginal Education in Canada, it appears evident from the blog entry entitled, Aboriginal Education: Canada’s Two Real Solitudes, that the disconnection between Canadian public school system standards and the operation of Aboriginal schools on reserves are resulting in inequalities among students. As of today, Aboriginal communities living on reserves are facing complex social issues that inhibit their independence, prosperity, cultural conservation, and overall health (Bussidor and Bilgen-Reinart, 1997). The accessibility, isolation, and quality of land vary widely depending on the geographical setting of the reserve, however the standard of living conditions within Aboriginal reserves had limited commonality with the living conditions of residents living off of reserves (Adelson, 2005).
    According to the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, federal funding to reserves for housing is underfunded by $189 million dollars, which has led to a shortage in the number of school and housing available to residents (AANDC, 2011). It is estimated that reserves in Manitoba required 40 more schools to meet the growing demands of Aboriginal reserves (Stasna, 2011). Further, the funding available to maintain present infrastructure is lacking significantly, so even if residents were to receive new schools and homes, the means to preserve quality would be severely delayed (Stasna, 2011) Residents living on reserves are also hindered by the poor quality of schools, as many educational buildings pose serious detrimental health risks and safety concerns, given that the majority of schools on reserves are not constructed according to building codes and proper safety standards (Larcombe, 2010). Consequently, students and parents are less likely to have positive educational experiences and there is an increase risk that they may not consider attending school a priority and fail to take is seriously (Phillips et al, 2010). When students and their families are forced to worry about their overall well-being and meeting their basic needs, then the focus on adequate access to education is lost in some ways.
    Given the inequalities in resources available for education on reserves for Aboriginal students, access to positive learning opportunities is adversely affected. As for Aboriginal students that reside within urban and rural areas outside of reserves, their education is approached from the same perspective as non-Aboriginal students. Education for all Canadian students must be approached from a holistic standpoint, meaning that meeting the needs of every student in such a way that encourages their personal, academic, and overall success inside and outside of school, may look different from one student to the next. It is important to focus on what is fair for each student, not necessarily what is equal, as every student requires something different to be truly successful. As future educators, it is important to work towards creating fair educational opportunities and environments for Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal students so that learning becomes life long, positive, and beneficial for everyone.

  41. I have enrolled in this course to hopefully better answer this question myself. With over fifteen years in the public education system in Manitoba I still feel as though I have lacked any sort of Aboriginal education. My views and opinions of Aboriginal peoples have been restricted to the few, perhaps not so positive, visits to the various reserves surrounding my rural hometown.

    At the same time, I can’t help but compare Aboriginal education to any other cultural education students in Manitoba receive. As future educators, the topic of inclusion is stressed again and again regardless of whether we are in an ESL, Special Ed, or any other classroom. With that said, I believe if we are expecting cultures such as the Aboriginal culture to integrate, it is necessary to provide a welcoming, inclusive environment, where we not only require the Aboriginal peoples to learn about our culture, but they have the opportunity to teach us about their culture. Without having the opportunity to learn about each other, our cultures and ways of living, how will be ever be able to appreciate our differences?

    I believe that providing separate Aboriginal schools would stress divergence instead of a collaborative attempt to work together. At the same time I understand that regardless of the ‘solution’, there is going to be one party at a disadvantage. As stated in the article, Aboriginal people view the Canadian school system as an attempt at assimilation, on the other hand, many other people view Aboriginal education as not being of the highest quality. I believe that the public education system as a whole would benefit from incorporating more about the Aboriginal culture into the curriculum regardless of whether Aboriginal education was integrated or separated.

    Ultimately, in my opinion, Aboriginal peoples should have the opportunity to be integrated into the Canadian school system with the resources available to pursue further teachings in their culture and way of life, for example this may be accomplished by alternate history classes where they have an opportunity to learn from their elders.

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  43. As Robert Ouellette explains in his online article about Aboriginal Education, the precise role Aboriginal Education has in the Canadian school system is still undecided.

    Aboriginal Education has shifted from segregated education for Aboriginal students to the integration of Aboriginal students into Canadian schools. Both of these options have resulted in devastating cultural genocide. Residential schools tore families apart and forced assimilation principles onto aboriginal students resulting in a loss of languages and cultural identity. Similarly, the integration of Aboriginal students into Canadian schools has further separated Aboriginal youth from their cultural traditions by imparting Western centred education onto these students. Ouellette quotes Chief John Snow in his article, expressing the discriminatory discourse against integrated schooling for Aboriginal youth, identifying the notion that teachers would do their best to integrate Aboriginal students.

    Currently, the topic of Aboriginal Education is reserved for History and Social Studies classes ( Some schools may offer a course called Native Studies, which is often lumped into Family Studies courses. Ouellette raises the issue of the value of integrating Aboriginal-Centred Education into the Canadian curriculum. I believe this is the only solution to respectfully integrate Aboriginal Education in the Canadian school system. Students across Canada must learn about these traditional teachings and holistic practices within each subject area. For example, in Physical Education, the rules and history of lacrosse would be taught, emphasizing Aboriginal centred education surrounding the game. Similarly, in Foods and Nutrition, Aboriginal foods and diets would be discussed and cooked as part of the curriculum. English Language Arts classes would focus on Aboriginal centred narratives and Aboriginal writers as well as learning some basics of Aboriginal languages.

    As Ouellette describes in his article, the issue at hand is integrating Aboriginal-Centred Education into the Canadian educational system. Traditional Aboriginal values and beliefs are beneficial to all Canadians. Aboriginal history is Canadian history. Aboriginal culture has undergone a genocide over the last century and this injustice needs to be corrected through the integration of Aboriginal-Centred Education into Canadian school systems.

  44. Aboriginal education is something that I personally do not have a lot of knowledge in. Reading through this blog post, it was difficult for me to figure out what would be the best for everyone involved. Like it was said at the end of this post, this topic is “a very difficult area to make sense [of] because of the many entrenched interests…”. I believe in the importance of integration, so that all students have the exposure to the teachings of aboriginal education. With the ever-growing diversity in Canadian schools, incorporating the many teachings of different areas is important. When we went to the aboriginal student centre, Migizii Agamik, Carl Stone said something that really resonated with me. He talked about how all Canadians need learn about aboriginal teachings because it is a part of our history (Stone, 2014). I think that this thinking needs to be incorporated into our education system. The students, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, need to be exposed to that knowledge. They need to be able to learn about historical and present ideas that come with this area. In the book Aboriginal Education in Canada: A Plea for Integration, the authors discuss the importance of integration (2002). They believe that “nonnative peoples need to be integrated into Native ways because the ancient sacred ways have so much to offer” (Friesen, J., Friesen, V.L., 2002). I think that this is important and should be integrated into our schools. The million-dollar question is, what is the best way to integrate that knowledge?

    I think in order for integration to occur and be maintained, schools need to have those specialists within them. Those specialists hold that sacred knowledge and can give students the best teachings of that knowledge. As a future teacher, I feel like only having one course of aboriginal education wouldn't be enough for me to properly integrate those teachings in the classroom. I would want to be able to give the most knowledge to my students, especially the ones of aboriginal decent. I would want to be respectful of the teachings and I think the best way would be involving experts in those teachings. Like I mentioned, I do not have much knowledge in aboriginal education, but I hope this course can give me some basic knowledge. I would want to incorporate the knowledge of those experts in the discipline and work together with them.

    Friesen, J., Friesen, V.L. (2002). Aboriginal education in Canada: A plea for integration.
    Edmonton, Canada: Brush Education Inc.

  45. I am unclear as to what exactly a class on Aboriginal Education consists of. On one hand, I thought that the class would include how to integrate and teach Aboriginal perspectives to all students. On the other hand, I thought that we would learn about how to teach students of Aboriginal descent. I am not sure if either of these thoughts are correct and am still uncertain as to where this class will be headed. I am hoping that this class will clear up some of my uncertainties and help me develop a greater understanding of Aboriginal Education as a whole. I believe that all students are entitled to an education, no matter what their background may be. However, in Winnipeg, we have been teaching in a certain manner for so long that it may be very difficult to add in a new way of teaching. The accusations mentioned above about Aboriginal Education seem unfair. I think that teachers, including myself, need to become more educated about Aboriginal Education before making a decision about its fate in the education system. I believe that integrating cultures and perspectives into the classroom environment is essential in our education system. We have many students from all over the world that come to Canada with their own knowledge and experiences to share. In my practicum experience last year, I was in a classroom with the majority of students being from the Philippines or India. The students and myself were able to learn about these cultures through the students that had come from them, for example, important holidays or celebrations. By integrating the students’ knowledge and experiences in the classroom environment, they were able to feel more comfortable and at home in a new situation. Also, the students who were born and raised in Canada were able to learn about practices from cultures around the world. I think Aboriginal education is of equal important to integrate into the classroom. However, if teachers are going to be able to include Aboriginal Education in their classrooms, they will need to become better educated and feel comfortable in teaching their students towards an understanding as well.

  46. To me the debate about the type of Aboriginal education that should occur in Canada begins with the issue of what the ‘purpose of education’ is. Young, Levon and Wallin (Young, Jonathan C., and Benjamin Ruvin Levin. Understanding Canadian schools: an introduction to educational administration. 4th ed. Scarborough, Ont.: Nelson, 2007. Print.) discuss the six purposes as allocative, custodial, intellectual/vocational, socializing, aesthetic, and physical. For the purpose of this comment, I am going to discuss how three of these purposes, intellectual, socializing, and allocative, affect the way that I see the future Aboriginal education in Canada.

    When I consider the socializing purpose of education, which Young says refers to “inculcating desired values and behaviors,” it seems to me that Aboriginal people may in fact be better off having separate indigenized education system. Western values (for example consumerism) seem to be in a stark contrast to Aboriginal values (such as their strong relationship with the land). It seems as if Aboriginal youth are experiencing a disconnect, or even negative view, in regards to their Aboriginal identity. Perhaps an education that supports and teaches their values, which out watering them down, or contrasting them with other cultural values, would help to eliminate this.

    However, when you consider the allocative purpose of education, which Young describes as “determining who gets what,” the issue of Aboriginal education in Canada gets more complicated. If Aboriginal people were taught in totally separate schools, where they had full control over all of the content, it is quite possible that these schools would also teach a different set of knowledge and skills (thus making them have a different intellectual purpose). For example, an Aboriginal school may not focus on thesis’ and essay writing. If these Aboriginal people later wished to live in a more Western society, the allocative purpose of schooling would make this difficult for them to attend more traditionally western universities, and thus obtain certain types of jobs (ex. teacher, lawyer).

    When one considers the different purposes of schooling, the issue of Aboriginal Education only seems to become more complicated. Perhaps the Aboriginal people could only become as strong of a community as they once were through separate schooling and curriculums. However, being as connected as they currently are to Western culture, the intellectual knowledge and allocative pupose of schooling would could put them at a disadvantage if their Aboriginal schools decide to value different knowledge/skills. On the other hand, if Aboriginal people were given back ALL of their freedom, and were able to educate their youth as they pleased, perhaps they would steer away from the traditional western culture, and this would not be a problem.

  47. To be honest I am not very familiar with historical developments surrounding Aboriginal education. However as a future teacher I know in my practice that there is more than one way to teach and learn. Having a diverse classroom I have realized how important differential instruction is to foster student’s success. Audrey Richard an Aboriginal educator comments that success should be more holistic and not only taking academic success into account. I really like this statement; I have always felt that the university and surrounding people believe that in order to succeed in school and outside academic success is solely important. Of course academic success is extremely important, but it should not be the only thing taken into consideration. I think that Aboriginal education will continue to be discussed and debated by people forever. As mentioned before I am not very familiar with Aboriginal educational, I do believe differential instruction and different teaching styles is beneficial. The only thing that I think could be a downside if people consider it a downside is that not everyone gets the same education and could that possibly be a disadvantage for all students. This is something I wonder and will hopefully learn more about.

  48. I, like many of the others, feel divided on the issue of aboriginal education. I’m sure that with time in this course I will be able to form a more solid opinion, but for now this is what I have.
    On the one hand I feel that there is a lot of special focus on teaching aboriginal students and integrating aboriginal perspectives. My question is, why do we single out aboriginal education as something we have to pay special attention to? I fail to understand why we pay special attention to aboriginal education, but lump all other ethnicities into multi-cultural education. I think in this regard it would be inappropriate to single out a certain ethnicity as special. What about students who have come from Africa, Asia or Europe and all the individual ethnicities within the larger categories? We want to promote equality by integrating aboriginal perspectives into our education, but it’s not truly equal if we ignore every other ethnicity.
    On the other hand I feel that all students could learn things from aboriginal teachings. From the little knowledge I have of traditional aboriginal culture I know they have a great respect for the environment and sustainability has become a hot topic within the Manitoba curriculum in more than one subject. Some of the traditional teachings about caring for the environment could really inspire students, give a different perspective, and capture the interest of students.
    I realize that Canada is represented as multicultural, but I can’t help but wonder if its parliament hill who says we are multicultural. Many of Canada’s citizens, or at least the ones I know, don’t seem to represent these values. So maybe my question becomes do we continue with our current state of education that represents the values of the dominant culture or do we integrate every cultures values in an attempt to be equal?

  49. I believe Aboriginal children should definitely receive the same quality of education as all Canadian children, whether they live on a reserve or are integrated into Canadian society. That being said, I also believe Canadian schools should include in their curriculum aspects of Aboriginal education, whether or not Aboriginal students are present in the classroom. I feel embarrassed to say that I did not learn much about Aboriginal education until I went to university. Before attending post-secondary education, my extent of knowing about Aboriginal culture was also very limited (I still feel like I do not know much). Reading the historical book of “Pocahontas”, making a dream-catcher at a fair, and watching a Powwow at a festival, was the extent of what I knew.
    Aboriginal history and culture is a huge part of our Canadian history, yet there is not much priority in our schools to teach students about the hugely negative impact that colonization had on Aboriginal people and how it continues to affect them today. Even though there is an increasing awareness, we still have a long way to go. The fact that our prime minister, Stephen Harper stated in 2009 that “Canada has no history of colonialism,” demonstrates to an extend that many still deny our true history.
    Tragically, our Canadian history includes over a century of trying to remove Aboriginal education, culture, and identity from Aboriginal people through residential schools. Our history of education is tragic and its effects are irreversible. It is now time for us to take action for the rights of Aboriginal people and to provide them with an education they deserve. An education based on their traditional teachings and culture. An education based on mutual respect and appreciation for our First Nations people of Canada.

  50. From the position of a potential educator it seems that the question being posited in this article is whether Aboriginal ideas and teachings should be taught as an integrated part of our current curriculum or as separate materials. I imagine that these two situations could produce significantly different outcomes from a teacher’s perspective.

    Integration of Aboriginal teachings into the curriculum could be made as a simple formalization and extension of the current guidelines, which typically include a sprinkling of basic Aboriginal lessons throughout in obvious subjects, such as Canadian history. Perhaps the curriculum could be made to incorporate Aboriginal ideas throughout its entirety; chemistry lessons could be expanded to cover the science of traditional indigenous medicines, biology could cover the nutritional value of traditional foods, English classes may analyze writings, while physics students could calculate the speed and power of a traditional bow. Although I believe this type of integration could be easily accomplished in a relatively short timeframe, it is also a very shallow solution, which only the very best teachers will use to their advantage. This type of integration could devolve into teachers simply rewriting their assignments with new wording to acknowledge a new curriculum, or it could inspire new ideas and approaches that truly embrace the Aboriginal teachings. At the very least a mandated incorporation of Aboriginal ideas into the curriculum would ensure that all teachers would have to at least acknowledge the concept of Aboriginal education.

    Segregation of Aboriginal education into a unique curriculum appears, at least to me, to be more likely to produce a better representation and implementation of the ideas and teachings that the Aboriginal leaders above seem to want taught, but may not result in the larger social change that our society needs. The segregation of Aboriginal education into a separate program/course/curriculum, even it is made mandatory, will ensure that it remains separate in the minds of the students and instructors. A mandatory Aboriginal education course presented within the framework of the current school curriculum would likely be as effective at educating non-Aboriginal students as mandatory French classes are for Anglophone students (which in my experience is typically poorly). Furthermore, the simple presentation of segregated Aboriginal education enforces that the difference and separation between these peoples and the rest of Canadians.

    Perhaps the solution is in a mixture of the two approaches, perhaps students need to be taught the specifics of indigenous knowledge, as well as shown how these concepts relate to the larger world as a whole. Honestly, in provinces such as Manitoba where 13.6% of the population identifies as Aboriginal ( and only 3.5% ( identify as Francophone, it is surprising that there is not already a stronger mandate to include and address Aboriginal education within the current curriculum. Perhaps if Aboriginal teachings could be made more ubiquitous throughout our educational system our society as a whole could develop a stronger respect for these peoples and we could grow as a country.

  51. Having just read an article on incorporating the Mi'kmaw language and ways of thinking into the mathematical instruction in two schools in Nova Scotia my thoughts surrounding what might “be best” for the children have changed.
    I have always thought that our current school system and curriculum is falling short in the areas of Aboriginal Education; be it teaching explicitly about Aboriginal culture or teaching in ways that promote success for Aboriginal students. While reading Lisa Borden’s article What’s the word for…? Is there a wod for…? How understanding Mi’kmaw language can help support Mi’kmaw learners in mathematics. I was blown away by how deeply the differences in language, and more importantly the differences in ways of thinking can affect a student’s success with a given topic. Borden (2013) touches on the idea that a language reflects the way a society thinks; with English being more noun centred and the Mi’kmaw language being more verb or action oriented. These small structural differences make direct translations of many words and concepts impossible and showcase some differing values held by the groups. This difference in language connects to a difference in thought patterns and Borden’s article (2013) also stresses that just because a student speaks English doesn’t mean they have an English way of thinking. Borden (2013) then goes on to share her journey of finding ways to better understand the Mi’kmaw ways of thinking and understanding the world so she could better support the students in math.
    I think that this is a crucial and often overlooked step in supporting Aboriginal students as well as any student s entering the English school system with a different way of thinking about the world. It should not be the responsibility of the students to change their ways of thinking and knowing. It should be the teachers, administrators and curriculum developers who work create a situation where student’s backgrounds and ways of thinking are not only valued but understood and used as a way to support students.

  52. As an upcoming teacher, Aboriginal education is a topic that I currently obtain little knowledge on, and am hoping to have a more solidified base knowledge at the end of this course. After reading this article, what I see is that Aboriginal ideas and teachings have been an integral part of Aboriginal education for years, but its role in the Canadian education system is unclear. The debate on how to integrate Aboriginal education as well as Aboriginal peoples into the Canadian education system is very unclear not only on how, but if it should happen at all.
    I have a strong belief that yes, Aboriginal peoples should be integrated into the Canadian education system, but at the same time, their education cannot be forced out. Integration of Aboriginal peoples has already caused issues in terms of children being removed from their homes, and loss of their own cultural identity. There has to be a better solution, but finding this solution is not easy. An example of integration of an Aboriginal education tool that has been integrated into the Canadian education system is story telling. During previous courses in the Faculty of Education, we have been taught that one of the best ways to teach students is through story telling. Students will hold onto information that is told as a story. We have integrated a tool, but the education needs to come along with it.
    The topic of integration leaves what seem to be endless questions and concerns. Yes, I believe integration of both Aboriginal peoples and education should be integrated into the Canadian education system, but the question is how? How can aboriginal education become as emphasized a subject as ones already taught in the Canadian education system? These questions have not been answered yet, but these are pressing issues that need to be pushed to the forefront of the Canadian education system.

  53. It is difficult to provide a straight-forward response or answer to this issue within the Canadian education system; specifically issues surrounding Aboriginal Education. I disagree with the statement in the article to an extent that states: “Aboriginal peoples need to integrate into Canadian society by having the same types of education as all other Canadian children.” There are certain essential skills that need to be learned in order to participate in certain sectors of Canadian society, but this does not mean that the education of every student in Canada needs to be more-or-less the same. It is still important for children with different cultural backgrounds to celebrate their individual cultures within the walls of the school and even learn about the cultures of others, which would help to provide students with a broader view on Canadian society that promotes acceptance of cultural values and beliefs that differ from one’s own.

    It is stated in the article that Aboriginal Education is labelled as “wishy-washy, short on ideas, and hard to understand.” Is this sufficient reason not to teach Aboriginal education and include Aboriginal perspectives within the curriculum? I would say no, based on my argument that education from different cultural perspectives will broaden students’ views and understanding of the world around them. For example, including Aboriginal perspectives in the Social Studies curriculum will provide students will “achieve a fuller understanding of the Canadian story, a broader knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal experiences and cultures, and a deeper connection to our land” (Newbery, Morgan, & Eadie, 2008). According to Friesen and Friesen (2002), integrating non-Aboriginal peoples into Aboriginal ways has a lot to offer non-Aboriginal peoples, including an increase ecological and spiritual understanding, and even a deeper understanding of humanity.

    It is my opinion that the accusations made against Aboriginal education are inaccurate. Aboriginal education has a lot to offer students, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and will serve as a means of providing a broader understanding of the world and a greater level of acceptance among Canadians, both young and old.

  54. Like all great debates, the answer lies in finding an appropriate balance. Completely conforming to one or the other would be the least desirable thing to do. Both Western education and Aboriginal education have great things to offer. Education could be its strongest by taking the best pieces of each. More specifically Aboriginal education has wonderful values which easily can be and definitely should be taught to everyone regardless of their race or culture. This education is built largely on mutual respect among everyone in the learning atmosphere, which I am certain enriches the experience of learning. Additionally there is no doubt that Aboriginal culture and many of its teachings promote sustainability in a way not present in Western society. Only recently has Western education added teaching for sustainability into its program, whereas it has always been a part of Aboriginal education.
    On the other hand Western education does a good job of preparing its students for employment in today’s Western world. Western education was developed to prepare students for Western society. Anybody who plans on living in Canada should be educated at least partially in this wayto be fully prepared for adult life in this society.
    Every child deserves to be educated in a way that is accepting and a way that gives them the tools to be successful. Integration may very well may be the answer but an integration where each part is visible and respected for what it is and where it came from. Like a braid, the strands twist around each other and become one single entity but the strands still remain separate and can be unravelled if need be.

  55. There is a need to integrate Aboriginal peoples education and the Canadian education system because while both hold value and purpose separately, together they can become a greater tool for future generations.
    Public school systems encourage learning and development through effort and cooperation, each school division promotes their academics, extra-curricular activities, and values by providing the people of the community with facilities that are culturally compatible. River East Transcona School Division provides German-bilingual programing because it reflects the community in which certain schools are located, just as Louis Riel and Seine River Divisions provide French programing for the inhabitants of those areas. Providing an Indigenized education system with access to resources similar to public school systems would reflect the progression the public school system has taken in order to adequately provide for its students.
    These systems in place allow students to maintain aspects of their cultural identity, why not do the same for Aboriginal peoples? When given the opportunity to connect students with an environment in which they are comfortable, teaching and learning progresses. Through personal experience and observation I have come to agree with the cultural compatibility hypothesis, “that when a child is immersed in an educational environment that is culturally compatible with the values of the community, learning prospects are improved” (Preston, Cottrell, Pelletier, and Pearce 2012, p.7).
    The forward-moving Canadian education system shares similarities with the Aboriginal perspective of education in its values and practices. Preston et al. found that for Aboriginal peoples, learning is experienced through activities such as storytelling, group discussions, cooperative learning, and hands-on experiences (p.8), which correspond to the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching and learning. The Reggio approach demonstrates its relation to Aboriginal education unintentionally through collaboration of children, families, teachers, and the whole community “through and in relation to living” (Fraser & Gestwicki, 2002, p.9).
    The increasing occurrence of the Reggio Emilia Approach to teaching and learning in schools suggests that changes are being made to the Canadian school system. These changes should include providing students and communities with Indigenized education along with the systems already in place in our society.

  56. The notion of integrated education is continually influenced by the colonial project, in as far as "integration" most often refers to the inclusion of aboriginal students in to the European style of education but does not include Aboriginal perspectives. This is problematic because although Aboriginal students are included their educational heritage is not. This has a number of negative impacts on Aboriginal education and culture as well society in general. The assumption that a typical Canadian education is what all students of any cultural should receive is to overlook the value of differing cultural perspectives and insights. If we as educators want to truly encourage integration then aboriginal perspectives should be valued just as highly as any other. Specifically, the education system would be wise to consider the notion of a holistic education which is not simply focused on the production of economically valuable citizens. Integration must be a consideration of all valuable aspects of each culture represented, not just the inclusion of minority people in the system of the majority.

  57. I found it interesting to read about the two very opposite viewpoints surrounding Aboriginal education in Canada. On one side, some Indigenous peoples believe that they have a right to have their own parallel system of education. On the other hand, some prominent educators believe that the future of Aboriginal education will be found in further integration into the public education system. This issue is important to me as a student teacher and will undoubtedly resurface throughout my teaching career. I completely agree with the statement that Aboriginal children should have access to the same level of resources and support as other students in the public school system. From what I have read, this equality is severely lacking, especially on reserves and in remote communities. This is unacceptable and does not align with the principles that this nation claims to represent.

    The reading mentions Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, making the argument that Indigenous people have a right to their own forms of education. While I understand this point, I also see the problems associated with it. If one minority group is granted permission to control education, what is to prevent other groups from pushing for their own independence from the public school system? Despite this idea, I feel that the current education system falls well short of “promoting understanding, tolerance, and friendship, among all nations.” While Aboriginal education has entered the system in small ways, it is still not represented on an acceptable level.

    Despite all this, I feel that I do not yet have the information needed to form a definite opinion on the issue. I know very little about Aboriginal teachings and processes, as well as the history of Aboriginal education. I often hear about the strong connection between Indigenous people and the land, but have never fully grasped it. I’m optimistic that after taking courses about Aboriginal education I will be able to state with confidence where I stand.

  58. Before reading the article, “What’s the word for…? Is there a wod for…? How understanding Mi’kmaw language can help support Mi’kmaw learners in mathematics”, I was not sure what my stance on Aboriginal Education was. I honestly did not even really know the complex the topic is. For me, Integrating Aboriginal perspectives into the curriculum was simply the act of discussing Aboriginal history in Social Studies, and perhaps making things like Math word problems more relevant to Aboriginal peoples. I had no idea it went as far as incorporating Aboriginal cultures ways of thinking, their values, and specific learning styles into our schools. Now that I have read this article, which discusses the differences in Mathematical concepts between the Mi-kmaw culture and the traditional western approach to Mathematics education, I am blown away by how complex this topic is. The Mi-Kmaw culture has a different concepts for counting, the Yup’ik use a base 20 system for counting as opposed to our base 10 system. Examples such as these have opened up my eyes to the complexity of Aboriginal education and I look forward to learning more in depth about these topics in our course.

    I have personally not taught an Aboriginal student yet, but I do have students in my class from other countries such as India, China, and Iraq. I always make a conscious effort to incorporate their cultures and language into my teaching as much as possible and I would like to learn strategies to do the same for my future teaching.

    I am not sure how long the Faculty of Education has made an Aboriginal Education/Perspectives course a mandatory course for pre-service teachers to take, but I think it is a very positive thing. This tells me that our Education system values Aborginal Education to some degree. It is up to us, to take what we learn and practice it in our careers. Constant professional development on this topic should be mandatory.