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."


Latest Canada & World News

  • Car evidence in fatal Saskatchewan Colten Boushie shooting out of police custody: lawyer

    Canada News CTV News
    NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. -- A key piece of evidence in the fatal shooting of a First Nations man on a Saskatchewan farm has been compromised, according to a lawyer representing the dead man's family. Chris Murphy represents the family of Colten Boushie, who was killed Aug. Source
  • Obama administration confirms double-digit premium hikes

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama's health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer, the administration confirmed Monday. That's sure to stoke another "Obamacare" controversy days before a presidential election. Source
  • Winnipeg group splits Lotto Max jackpot

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Twenty-four coworkers are splitting a $1-million Lotto Max jackpot. The employees, who are pocketing nearly $42,000 each, hit the jackpot on the Sept. 16 draw. "One of the ladies in our group sent me a text really early in the morning, saying we had won on MaxMillions," said Darlene Johanson, in an interview with Western Canada Lottery Corp. Source
  • Man's rape conviction overturned because court couldn't prove boy, 10, said 'no'

    World News Toronto Sun
    An Iraqi migrant who allegedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy had his conviction overturned because the court couldn’t prove the child said ‘no’ during the attack, according to reports. The man, Amir A., 20, was visiting a pool in Vienna, Austria when he allegedly assaulted the boy in the change room, later claiming it was a “sexual emergency” because he hadn’t had sex for four months said a report from The Sun U.K. Source
  • Decades old: Mystery surrounds human remains found along Red River in Manitoba

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    RCMP have determined that no foul play was involved after investigating the discovery of “human remains” on the banks of the Red River on Saturday. Selkirk RCMP had responded to the report of possible human remains being found along the river banks near Highways 212 and 204 on Saturday at 1 p.m. Source
  • Gunmen attack police training centre in southwest Pakistan

    World News CTV News
    QUETTA, Pakistan - Gunmen stormed a police training centre in Pakistan's restive southwestern province of Baluchistan on Monday, killing at least one person and wounding 88 others, hours after another attack killed two customs officers and wounded a third, authorities said. Source
  • Polls' validity depends on who turns out to vote

    World News Toronto Sun
    Trump Toast or Brexit Revisited? If polling in the U.S. is to be believed — and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump really hopes it’s not — the country will elect its first female president in just two weeks. Source
  • Maduro meets pope as Vatican steps into Venezuela crisis

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met Monday with Pope Francis as the Vatican took a more active role trying to defuse a tense political standoff in the South American nation. Maduro spoke with the Pope in a private meeting on his way back to Venezuela following a tour of oil-producing nations of the Middle East. Source
  • The government’s unhappy meal: Eat well, and expect to be unemployed

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A group of students in Calgary, rightfully ticked off at the ever-increasing helicopter parenting of government, will open a “Nanny State Store” on Tuesday to ridicule the increasing level of lifestyle regulations being foisted upon them. Chocolate bar wrappers, for example, will bear a very menacing message, perfect for Halloween. Source
  • Neo-nazi tattoos won't be covered for Las Vegas man's murder trial

    World News Toronto Sun
    LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas man who was allowed to use makeup to cover his neo-Nazi tattoos during his robbery trial and conviction in in August will not get to hide them during his upcoming murder trial punishable by the death penalty, a judge has ruled. Source