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

  • Desperate times obscure Canada's role in Iraq's uncertain future

    Canada News CTV News
    ERBIL, Iraq -- A baby's cry pierces the din as dozens of people wait to see a doctor or nurse at what's surely one of the busiest health clinics in the Middle East: inside a sprawling refugee camp that's home to 18,000 displaced men, women and children. Source
  • U.S. House probe into Russia ties to Trump off to rocky start

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A simmering dispute between leaders of the House intelligence committee spilled into the public Monday over an investigation into whether President Donald Trump has ties to Russia, even as they pledged to conduct a bipartisan probe. Source
  • Turkey jails reporter from Germany's Die Welt paper

    World News CBC News
    Turkish authorities on Monday arrested a reporter for a prominent German newspaper on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting the public to violence, Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker Baris Yarkadas told reporters outside the courthouse. Source
  • Convicted killer Kelly Ellard allowed temporary escorted prison release

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Convicted killer Kelly Ellard has been granted temporary escorted absences from prison to attend doctor’s appointments and parenting programs for her baby. Parole board member Alex Dantzer says it’s disturbing that Ellard continues to minimize her crime, but in light of her good behaviour in prison she should be allowed the absences. Source
  • Jewish centres cope with more bomb threats; graves also vandalized

    World News Toronto Sun
    PHILADELPHIA - Money is being raised to repair and restore more than 100 headstones that were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia while police hunt for the person who toppled them. A man visiting Mount Carmel Cemetery on Sunday called police to report that three of his relatives’ headstones had been knocked over and damaged. Source
  • Bartender told 911 Kansas man accused of shooting two Indian men thought they were Iranian

    World News Toronto Sun
    OLATHE, Kan. — A bartender at the restaurant where a man was arrested last week for an apparently racially motivated bar shooting of two Indian men told a 911 dispatcher that the suspect admitted shooting two people, but described them as Iranian. Source
  • Ex-Montreal mayor Applebaum won't appeal corruption conviction

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The lawyer for former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum says there will be no appeal of his client's conviction on corruption-related charges. Pierre Teasdale confirmed the decision Monday but did not give any reasons. Source
  • Mom not getting son, who weighed 132 lbs. at age 5, back

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    SYDNEY, N.S. — A Nova Scotia judge has ruled that a boy who was five years old and weighed 132 pounds when he was taken from his mother will not return to her care, saying living with her was too hazardous to his health. Source
  • Security advisory issued after bomb threats at Jewish schools, centres across U.S.

    World News CTV News
    A national Jewish civil rights organization is urging institutions across the United States to ramp up their security efforts amid a wave of bomb threats phoned into Jewish community centres and schools in as many as 12 U.S. Source
  • 'Just killed two people. Cheers': Murderer sends chilling text to father

    World News Toronto Sun
    A Welsh man sent a bitter text to his father soon after stabbing his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend to death, bizarrely signing off the message by saying “cheers.” Before the double-killing of Zoe Morgan and Lee Simmons in Cardiff, Andrew Saunders took to Google, asking “how long do murderers serve in prison,” according to the Daily Mail. Source