Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls for Action to: “Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects” (Section 92, ii).
Few people are aware that 33 of the 34 remote FN communities on the east-side of Lake Manitoba lack universities and colleges as well as road access. Although the west-side is served by University College of the North (UCN) and the south by a number of universities, there are no colleges or universities along the east-side to provide training except for one in St. Theresa Point First Nation. Considering the nature of the east–side without roads, a community-based approach is urgently needed, as without roads a regional approach cannot work. Being on the outskirts of Canadian mainstream society places Indigenous students at higher risk of multiple oppressions and not fitting in, which can result in poor school outcomes. Indigenous pride and strength in identity is essential for student success and dramatically increases one’s sense of belonging.
These barriers explain why 65% of non-Aboriginal people have post-secondary qualifications but only 45% of First Nations people have postsecondary qualifications with: 13% having trades certificate; 19% having college diploma; and 9% having a university degree (Statistics Canada, 2011). A formal education is increasingly important for employment and quality of life. The 13 Principles on Indigenous Education recognize the need for greater indigenization of university curricula and leadership, as well as promoting dialogue and intercultural engagement. The 2014 First Nations, Inuit and Metis Essential Skills Inventory Project identified five beneficial practices, namely: 1) working with/in the community; 2) learner-centered, holistic approaches; 3) Indigenous learning principles, 4) employer involvement to provide workplace experience, and 5) control and ownership . More has to be done to implement these five best practices. A partnership approach is necessary for northern remote Indigenous communities to access expertise in sustainable housing design and food systems as well as entry-level post-secondary educational programming.
Structural Oppressions Facing Indigenous Students in Canadian Education
Indigenous students in Canada do not graduate from secondary school at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers. We argue in this article that the lower graduation rate is due to the many structural oppressions that Indigenous people experience. The authors concentrate on four large-scale oppressions that commonly face Indigenous students: poverty, suppression of their identities, racism and gender violence.
Decolonizing Gender: Redressing the thousands of murdered and missing women in Canada
Northern Teaching Lodges: Learning Partnership for Community Development and Mino Bimaadizwin in First Nation Communities
Post-secondary education, if community-led and projects-based, has the potential to transform education, food and housing policy, as well as build capacity locally in two remote First Nations lacking road access. This partnership application focused on the remote First Nations of Garden Hill and Wasagamack, includes most public post-secondary colleges and universities in Manitoba, as well as social enterprises. This strong partnership will provide instructional capacity and research resources to explore optimal solutions to resolve development challenges through applied adult education. By conducting participatory action research we will collaborate to leapfrog Indigenous development and post-secondary education from colonially imposed to self-determined and community-led educational development.
This partnership grant will bring postsecondary education into communities, that lack post-secondary programming access due to these communities lacking access roads. Of 34 fly-in communities in northern Manitoba only one has a regional post-secondary education centre. The remainder have no access or extremely limited access to post-secondary education as the costs are prohibitive to fly more than a few students per year out to obtain their education. This partnership will provide community-based post-secondary education to an estimated 186 local First Nation students to attend entry-level certificate programs, including innovating programming on sustainable housing design, Indigenous food systems and adult education. Rather than educate entirely from a classroom, students will learn how to address the systemic problems in their communities through supported projects-based learning. For example, students will build more than a dozen sustainable houses in Island Lake over the six years. Further, six Indigenous Red River College (RRC) students will be paid to work their co-op terms to assist with sustainable housing designs and building. As well, many graduate students will have stipends covered. Thus, First Nation, RRC and graduate students will gain experience designing, modelling, building & testing open-source designs for sustainable, net-zero energy passive houses that utilize local materials.