Indigenous Education in Canada since 1945

Indigenous Education in Canada since 1945
1. Introduction: Desegregation
of Education in Canada
2. “Indian Control of Indian
3. Indigenous People and PostSecondary Education
Above: Verna Kirkness (1935- ) in 1966, while working as a
consultant for the Manitoba Department of Education
Source: University of Manitoba Department of Native Studies
HIST-1007: Indigenous History since 1900: Racism, Resistance, Renewal
Desegregation of Education
• Integration of Education (or bringing First
Nations kids into the provincial education
system /mainstream schools)
– Integrated schools a ‘superior’ assimilative
strategy and it would save the DIA money
– Exposure of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous
kids to curricula that taught the ‘twin myths of
Indigenous inferiority and British/European/White
superiority’ (Murray Sinclair)
– Integration was a one-way process
Final Years of the Indian
Residential School System
• IRS System persisted in spite of
educational failures, criticism
from Indian leaders, continued
abuse and poor conditions
(schools in disrepair)
• Government ended in
partnership with the churches in
• 1960s-1980s: children sent to:
integrated provincial schools;
on-reserve, band-controlled day
schools; residential schools run
by First Nations
Above: A young boy with other students and a nun in a
classroom at the Pukatawagan Residential School, Manitoba,
Source: Library and Archives Canada
Above: Blue Quills Indian Residential School, St. Paul, Alberta
Source: Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (UBC)
Community Control of Residential Schools
• In 1970, local communities challenged the closure of the Blue Quills School
• The federal government turned control of the school over to Blue Quills
Native Education Council in 1971
• Six others schools, all in Saskatchewan, transferred to local control
Education in Wahbung: Our
Tomorrows (1971)
• Policy statement presented to the
Government of Canada by the
Manitoba Indian Brotherhood
• Education chapter written by First
Nations educator Verna Kirkness
• Identified the failures of the
existing system: irrelevant to culture
and local environment; lack of
parent and student involvement;
poor results
• Key Recommendations: treaty
right to education, local community
control, parental participation
Indian Control of Indian Education
• Indian Control of Indian Education (ICIE),
– Educating our children so they are proud of who
they are
– Reaffirm treaty rights to education
– Local control of schools
– Language and Cultural Education Centres
– Teacher Training
Educational Materials
• Textbooks at all levels of education
contained blatant racism, perpetuated
stereotypes about Indigenous people
• The Manitoba Indian Brotherhood
highlighted some of the worst
examples in its publication The
Shocking Truth About Indians in
Textbooks (1974)
• Canadian history at the secondary
and post-secondary levels contained
little Indigenous history
• White Canadian historians working in
university history departments wrote
about Indigenous people largely in
derogatory ways
Above: “Young Aboriginal man receiving a scholarship from
the Indian Affairs Branch to pursue post-secondary
education” [1957-1960]
Source: Library and Archives Canada
• Before the 1950s, support
for post-secondary education
was ad hoc, very limited
• In 1957, an Indian Affairs
Scholarship Program was
launched (still small-scale)
• Post-Secondary Education
Assistance Program (PSEAP)
added in 1977
• By the 1980s, First Nations
students were still only onethird as likely to be enrolled in
PSE as the general population
Post-Secondary Education
• The context of enshrining Aboriginal rights in the constitution
– 1980s.
• 1989: Cap on PSEAP spending and nation-wide protest leads
to a new Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSP)
• The new program maintained that there were no treaty
rights to post-secondary education
• FNs argue for and court cases side on importance of the
“Spirit and Intent of Treaties”
Brandon Sun, Friday March 17, 1989, p. 24
Post-Secondary Education
• Native Studies Departments
• Native Teacher Education Programs
• Development of the ‘New Native History’
Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta
• Integration – not successful / Indigenous
control – not fully achieved
• Consistent message re: treaty rights to
comprehensive education – still not
• Broader history of Indigenous resistance and
creative activism and scholarship/knowledge
production in communities and in schools

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