Aboriginal Education In Ontario
February 24, 2009
Since 2003, the McGuinty government has been committed to providing accessible, high-quality education and training opportunities to Aboriginal peoples at all levels of learning.
There are increased opportunities for Aboriginal students and improved resources so educators and staff can better support Aboriginal learners and increase awareness about First Nation, Métis and Inuit cultures. The McGuinty government has also created strong partnerships with Aboriginal communities and organizations and is continuing to work closely with these partners to build on these successes.
New initiatives to support First Nation, Métis and Inuit learners
A better working relationship between the government and Aboriginal communities will lead to improved student engagement and achievement. A variety of new initiatives will help build stronger relationships and provide increasing opportunities for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students in Ontario, including:
- Supporting counselling, tutoring, career planning and cultural awareness services at colleges, universities and Aboriginal institutions through the Access to Opportunities Strategy. This year, Ontario is providing $6 million in Access funding to build and improve access to postsecondary opportunities for Aboriginal students and boost the number of Aboriginal graduates in Ontario.
- Working with the federal government and First Nation partners in talks about the future of Aboriginal postsecondary institutes in Ontario.
- Within the context of federal responsibility for on reserve Aboriginal education, working with the federal government and First Nation partners to improve the relationship between schools on reserve and provincially funded schools.
- Establishing a time-limited Aboriginal Postsecondary Education & Training Working Table to provide advice about the development of a First Nation, Métis and Inuit Post Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework – the government's plan for delivering quality postsecondary education and training to all First Nation, Métis and Inuit students in Ontario.
- Creating an Advisory Council on First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education. The Council will provide advice to the Minister of Education on the implementation of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework launched in 2007.
Ongoing work to support First Nation, Métis and Inuit learners
In January 2007, Ontario launched an Aboriginal Education Strategy with specific initiatives to support the learning and achievement of Aboriginal elementary and secondary students. The strategy also includes initiatives to increase knowledge and awareness about First Nation, Métis and Inuit histories, cultures and perspectives among all students.
Ontario is also committed to ensuring that Aboriginal learners continue to have access to the training, programs and opportunities they need to succeed and reach their full postsecondary academic potential.
Current initiatives include:
- Supporting eight Alternative Secondary School Programs to address the learning and cultural needs of urban Aboriginal youth. The programs are run through Native Friendship Centres and help students complete their secondary school diploma.
- Developing and implementing curriculum resources for teachers to reach Aboriginal students and to teach all students about First Nation, Métis and Inuit cultures, traditions and histories.
- Developing effective strategies to engage First Nation, Métis and Inuit students living in large urban centres and meet their learning needs through the Urban Aboriginal Education Project. Three pilot projects are currently underway in Toronto, Barrie and Thunder Bay.
- Providing support to school boards to develop policies for voluntary, confidential Aboriginal student self-identification. This will help school boards gather reliable data to support Aboriginal student achievement. More than 80 school boards and school authorities have adopted or are developing policies.
- Helping colleges, universities and Aboriginal institutions develop programs and new curriculum and provide services to ensure that more Aboriginal students participate and graduate.
"We are pleased the Ontario government remains focused on supporting Aboriginal education and training," said Gary Lipinski, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario. "We look forward to continuing to develop our relationship with them in order to help raise awareness about the rich culture and history of Métis people in Ontario."
"We are pleased to be working with the Ontario government on initiatives that support urban Aboriginal students," said Sheila McMahon, President, Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres.