B.C. praises jump in aboriginal graduation rate but trails national

VANCOUVER - British Columbia's government is celebrating record-high graduation rates for aboriginal students, but indigenous high-school completion levels, provincially and for the rest of Canada, still fall significantly short of the national average.

See Full Article

The number of aboriginal students finishing secondary school in the province has increased steadily from about 54 to 63 per cent over the past six years, as indicated by data from B.C.'s Education Ministry.

But that is still more than 20 percentage points shy of the 84-per-cent average for the general population in B.C.

"Seeing any kind of increase in those numbers is of course very welcome," said Linc Kesler, a professor at the University of British Columbia and director of the school's First Nations House of Learning.

Kesler predicted the upward trend will continue with further efforts to bridge the funding gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students and by increasing the amount of aboriginal content being taught in school.

"The curriculum piece is really critical," he said.

"Overcoming the silence and exclusion of aboriginal people in the way, for instance, Canadian history is taught ... is really important and I think has a really significant impact."

Kesler pointed to a big push underway in the Prairie provinces to overhaul school curricula to include First Nations content.

The word aboriginal is an all-encompassing term that includes First Nations, Metis and Inuit. There are about 1,175,000 aboriginals in Canada, of which about 700,000 identify as First Nations.

A 2011 Assembly of First Nations report pegged the 2004-2009 First-Nations graduation rate at 36 per cent, compared to a Canadian average of 72 per cent over the same time period.

The Canadian Press obtained a 2014 Manitoba government internal report earlier this year that noted the province had the lowest First Nations secondary-school graduation rate in the country at 28 per cent. However, a Statistics Canada publication from 2011 found 50 per cent of Manitoba's indigenous people between 25 and 64 have at least a high-school degree.

A shifting culture is also having an impact on improved graduation rates, said Kesler, with more encouragement for aboriginal students to carry on to university or college.

"There was once a time when ... there wasn't such an interest in seeing them graduate or proceed to post-secondary," he said. "People were being tracked out of academic courses with a fair degree of regularity."

B.C.'s Education Minister Mike Bernier was unavailable for comment, but said in a statement that he's encouraged to see so many aboriginal students graduating at the same time.

"There is still work to do so every aboriginal student has the skills they need to succeed in a changing world," said an additional statement from the ministry.

University of Manitoba academic Frank Deer says there are still remote communities in the North that don't offer kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, and that graduation rates tend to be higher in southern Canada, closer to urban centres.

Deer referenced a program that sees First Nations students in a Winnipeg school district placed in health-care work settings between Grades 9 to 12 in order to focus on the connection between education and a career.

The retention rate for the initial group was an "amazing" 100 per cent, he said.

"We're in an exciting era where many school districts, many provincial authorities, are beginning to engage in program development, engage in community supports," said Deer.

"I do see the glass half full. In fact, better than that - I'm very encouraged for the future."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Alta. mom's boyfriend charged in death of 16-month-old

    Canada News CTV News
    COLD LAKE, Alta. -- RCMP in east-central Alberta say they have arrested the boyfriend of a woman whose 16-month-old daughter died last summer. Veronica Poitras was brought to the hospital in Cold Lake by a family member on Aug. Source
  • Ontario Civil Liberties Association accuses Dalhousie of censorship over 'white fragility' investigation

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    HALIFAX — A Canadian civil liberties group is accusing Dalhousie University of censoring the political expression of a student leader under investigation for her social media comments. In a letter to Dalhousie president Richard Florizone, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association says the university is using its disciplinary powers to suppress freedom of speech. Source
  • FBI: Florida man's ISIS-inspired attack foiled by fake bomb

    World News CTV News
    MIAMI -- A Florida man who described himself as a sympathizer of the Islamic State extremist group faces terrorism-related charges stemming from a purported plot to bomb a Miami-area shopping mall, according to court documents filed Monday. Source
  • Dalhousie University accuses of censoring political expression

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- A Canadian civil liberties group is accusing Dalhousie University of censoring the political expression of a student leader under investigation for her social media comments. In a letter to Dalhousie president Richard Florizone, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association says the university is using its disciplinary powers to suppress freedom of speech. Source
  • Niqab will become bigger problem in years to come

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The niqab conversation in Canada isn’t going away anytime soon. Don’t think that whatever happens with Quebec’s Bill 62, whether it lives or dies, is going to neatly solve the issue and put it to bed for good. Source
  • Czech billionaire Babis, fresh off election win, sets out coalition demands

    World News CBC News
    Czech billionaire Andrej Babis, the runaway winner of last weekend's parliamentary election, said Monday he wanted to form a governing coalition with a stable partner, and a minority government was an unrealistic plan. Babis's search for government partners is running into trouble. Source
  • Some 600,000 refugees later, Ottawa digs in on dealing with Myanmar on Rohingya crisis

    World News CBC News
    As a growing number of Canadians demanded action on the Rohingya crisis — many calling for Ottawa to revoke the Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi's honorary Canadian citizenship — Karen MacArthur was flying over Northern Rakhine state, ground zero for the Rohingya's plight. Source
  • Trudeau names ex-Ontario premier Bob Rae as special envoy to Myanmar

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has been named a special envoy to Myanmar. He will be advising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the southeast Asian country. Nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August to escape persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing. Source
  • Man hit with assault charges after severed fingers allegedly strike cop

    World News Toronto Sun
    An Oregon man faces an assault charge after allegedly hitting a cop with fingers that exploded off his hand. Cops say pieces of Portland resident Jason Schaefer's mangled left hand struck a federal agent. The Oregonian reported cops showed up to Schaefer's Northwest Portland home on Oct. Source
  • Russian journalist stabbed in neck by man who claimed to have 'telepathic contact' with her: Police

    World News Toronto Sun
    MOSCOW — A well-known journalist for Russia’s top independent radio station was stabbed in the throat Monday by an unidentified attacker who burst into her studio — the latest in a string of attacks on journalists and opposition activists in Moscow. Source