Indigenous Education in Ontario
The Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development is committed to improving Indigenous education and training in Ontario, improving student achievement and well-being, and closing the achievement gap between Indigenous students and all students.
Ontario’s Indigenous Education Strategy – (formerly known as the Aboriginal Education Strategy)
Ontario’s Indigenous Education Strategy sets the foundation for improving achievement among Indigenous students in provincially funded schools and supports life-long learning beginning in the early years and continuing through postsecondary, training or workplace opportunities. In addition, the strategy raises awareness about First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples’ cultures, histories, perspectives and contributions in schools in Ontario among all students.
As part of the strategy, the ministry continues to focus on achieving two primary objectives:
- improving student achievement and well-being among First Nation, Métis and Inuit students; and
- closing the achievement gap between Indigenous students and all students.
The government is also committed to continuing to build positive relationships with Ontario First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples and working in a spirit of mutual respect through all interactions. Strong partnerships between the ministry, school boards, schools, educators, families, students, community organizations and Indigenous partners are essential.
To reach the goals of the strategy, Ontario has taken important steps in making system-wide changes, including targeted funding, professional development and the integration of First Nation, Métis and Inuit perspectives into the curriculum.
Examples of current initiatives:
- Board Action Plan: Since 2014-15, school boards, in collaboration with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit parents, community members, organizations and Aboriginal Education Advisory Councils/Committees, have been developing education programs and initiatives that align with the strategy and meet the needs of their local communities.
- First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Leads: As of Fall 2016, each school board in Ontario has a position that is designated to support the implementation of the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework.
- Voluntary and Confidential Indigenous Student Self-Identification: This data is used to enable the ministry, school boards and schools to understand the demographics of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit learners and to implement targeted strategies to build on the strengths and meet the specific needs of those students.
- Increased Partnerships:
- In 2009, Ontario and the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, which made a commitment to ongoing collaboration aimed at improving educational outcomes for Métis students in the province. The Memorandum supports collaborative relationships between Métis communities, school boards, and education partners to promote student success. This includes recognizing and preserving the distinct history, identity and culture of the Métis people and their contributions to Ontario. On December 15, 2015, the MNO signed a new Memorandum with the Ontario Ministry of Education.
- A Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013 between Ontario, Canada and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation made a commitment to working together to improve educational outcomes for First Nation students in First Nation-operated and provincially funded schools. This was the first tripartite education agreement to be signed in Ontario. Key priority areas of the Memorandum of Understanding include:
- Student Support Services;
- Curriculum Enhancements;
- Governance and Administration;
- Human Resources; and
- Parental Participation.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
On May 30, 2016, Ontario released The Journey Together – Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. As part of the Ministry of Ontario’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Report, the province made the following new commitments:
Classification of First Nation Schools within the Education Act
- Ontario will explore the possibility of creating a new classification for First Nation/federally operated schools. This could enhance collaboration between the provincially funded education system and First Nation schools to help build greater capacity (e.g. professional development and learning resources) in First Nation schools.
Support for Indigenous Languages
- Language is the foundation of culture. Indigenous peoples have a strong tradition of oral histories that must be supported by a new respect for, and understanding of, Indigenous languages. In 2017, the Government will be hosting an Indigenous languages symposium with Indigenous partners and educational stakeholders to review current programs, determine gaps, and identify community priorities and supports needed to support Indigenous languages. The symposium would provide Indigenous partners and education stakeholders with the opportunity to discuss the role and mandate of an Indigenous Languages Secretariat, which could lead to an Indigenous Languages Revitalization Strategy, and fund initiatives related to language revitalization.
- The province continues to work in collaboration with Indigenous partners to enhance the Ontario curriculum in order to support mandatory learning of residential schools, treaties, the legacy of colonialism, and the rights and responsibilities we all have to each other as treaty people.
- In 2014, Ontario sent First Nations and Treaties maps to every elementary and secondary school in the province to help raise awareness about treaties. These maps and the accompanying teaching resources are helping students to learn about the significance of the treaties and the shared history of First Nations and non-Indigenous Ontarians. Our province has also designated the first week of November as Treaties Recognition Week to promote public education and awareness about treaties and treaty relationships.
- Ontario will help to increase the number of off-reserve licensed child care spaces and culturally relevant programming for children and families. Programs will be delivered by urban Indigenous organizations working with municipal child care services.
- Ontario will expand five existing on-reserve child and family programs. Working with Indigenous and federal partners to identify needs, the funding will also make more child and family programs available in more communities.