As for the majority of non-Aboriginal people living in Canada, the reality of Native-people's life may be quite abstract to us. The most we generally know is that most of them live in reserves, mostly remote towns. It is certainly not common in most people's mind that one Aboriginal adult out of three has in fact, no high-school education at all, comparatively to one non-Aboriginal adult out of ten, according to a video sponsored by the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) and published on YouTube. In this video, several statistics depicting Aboriginal people's educational situation are presented. Since the situation is greatly problematic, those statistics deserve some consideration in order to consider what could be done to help Aboriginal people get a better education and, therefore, close the gap between aboriginals and non-aboriginals.
At first, the video gives us few statistics on
Aboriginal people in British-Colombia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. In
British-Colombia, 15,490 students between 15 and 24 years old were not attending
school. Strangely, the funding for Aboriginal education for this province is
estimated at $63.9 million for the 2014-2015 school year (B.C. Ministry of
Education). According to the website of the British-Columbia government, the
funding goes directly to enhance programs dedicated to Aboriginal students. All
the schools using those adapted programs support the First Peoples Principles of
Learning which reflects First Peoples pedagogy (B.C. Ministry of Education). We
could question if all those resources established by the British-Columbia
government really correspond to Aboriginal people's needs regarding education,
considering the disturbing statistic shown in the video. Regarding the provinces
of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, one Aboriginal adult out of three has a level 1
reading score, still according to the video sponsored by NVIT. This means that one
Aboriginal adult out of three presents
limited ability to locate, understand,
and use information. Reading score levels are
measured on a scale of 1 to 6
and are used to measure not only students', but also adults' literacy level,
therefore, their ability to participate in society and function well in everyday
life, which means getting a minimum literacy level of 2 (Adult Literacy). The
Government of Canada also demonstrates that, in 2012, the literacy scores of
Aboriginal people compared to the ones of non-Aboriginal people are considerably
lower (Adult Literacy). The video also adds that
adults at levels 1 and 2 are 2
times more likely to be in fair or poor health. This is easily explained by
the fact that literacy skill is a fundamental skill to have nowadays in developed
countries such as Canada. UNESCO partly describes literacy as
the ability to
identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and
written materials associated with varying contexts. This definition has also
been adopted by the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network (CLLN) (Canadian
Literacy and Learning Network). A low literacy level would then make things a lot
more complicated for someone, since almost everything is printed or written to
indicate any information we need nowadays, whether to ensure our health or
The next statistics presented in the video
sponsored by NVIT compare the cost generated by a post-secondary degree.
Obviously, we could say that if it is difficult for Aboriginal people even to get
a proper high-school education, concerns for higher education would be even
greater. In fact, the video states that the inability to reach a post-secondary
degree directly influences personal and financial success and that the current
financial situation of Aboriginal people does not allow them to pursue further
education. Then, it is explained that
the current labor shortage requires
employers to hire inadequately skilled workers, directly affecting industry.
According to Robert Laboucane, guest columnist for the Aboriginal Multi-Media
Society (AMMS), the industry expects Aboriginal people to be included in the
solution for the national labor
shortage across Canada. Many
actions have been put in place, such as for the education system, but the problems
still persist and the education level of Aboriginal people is still not high
enough. According to Laboucane, Aboriginal parents fear that the curricula do not
correspond to Aboriginal people's culture, and reality. Currently, the system does
not answer real needs and we are currently, as a society, sacrificing the next
generation of indigenous youth to joblessness and lack of opportunity.
However, the video, at the end, demonstrates that there is still hope. Half of the Aboriginal population is under 25 years old. Some post-secondary institutions lead by Aboriginal people offer programs valued by Aboriginal communities, although they are not truly recognized and are often underfunded. Work still needs to be done. As a society, we certainly cannot afford to abandon the next generation without proper tools to maintain a certain stability. Together, we must work to find solutions and act concretely to dispel the current problems around cultural access.
Adult Literacy. Government of Canada. 1 February 2016. Web 23 March 2016.
B.C. Ministry of Education. British Columbia Government. Web. 23 March 2016.
Canadian Literacy and Learning Network. Canadian Literacy and Learning Network, 2016. Web. 23 March 2016.
Laboucane, Robert. Canada's Aboriginal education crisis. Aboriginal Multi-Media Society AMMSA, 28.7 (2010). Web. 23 March 2016.
MyNVIT. It's Not an Opinion, It's a Fact: Aboriginal Education in Canada. Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 29 May 2012. Web. 23 March 2016.