Supporting Indigenous Students in Post-secondary Education

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05 The challenges that First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and Afro-Indigenous students face in obtaining post-secondary education are a culmination of both historical and contemporary factors. Prior to the establishment of the westernized educational system prevalent across Canada, Indigenous people engaged in land-based and experiential education that has existed for thousands of years. Assimilative po licies, like the Indian Act, greatly impacted traditional forms of education as government-funded Indian Residential Schools physically removed generations of Indigenous children from their families and communities, and, therefore, from their culture, language, and ancestral knowledge.[1] In response to the recommendations outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,[2] many conte mporary schools have progressed the agenda of reconciliation that supports Indigenous student success. Although the federal government is responsible for policies that pertain to Indigenous people, higher education falls under the jurisdiction of Canada's provinces and territories. Colleges and universities are fairly autonomous in how they engage in academic matters and each educational institution ac ross the country varies greatly on their responsiveness to reconciliation.[3] Education for Indigenous people is considered a treaty right.[4] Imperative to this right is the obligation of the Canadian government to provide adequate funding. As it stands today, the treaty right to education is not always upheld. This is evidenced by the insufficient and capped funding levels that contribute to the backlog of Indigenous students awaiting post-secondary education.[5] [1] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. "Final Report." [2] Ibid. [3] Sarah Trevleaven, "How Canadian Universities are Responding to the TRC's Calls to Action," Macleans, December 7, 2018, https://www.macleans.ca/education/how-canadian-universities- are-responding-to-the-trcs-calls-to-action/. [4] Sheila Carr-Stewart. "A Treaty Right to Education," Canadian Journal of Education26, no. 2 (2001): 125–143. [5] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. "Final Report."

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