The key focus of the colonial and Western school system has been the achievement of maximum enrollment, which has become an indicator of education quality. Enrollment rates, however, do not adequately capture or reflect outcomes related to educational achievement, nor does it indicate the experiences or impacts of the education system on First Nation students today.
Establishing education systems that use history as a point of departure and ground their development in the shared experiences and knowledge systems of First Nation communities will help move the needle towards closing the significant education achievement gap between First Nation students and non-Indigenous students.
Fundamental to addressing this gap is the empowerment and autonomy of First Nation communities to create an education system that ensures an equity of hope. This means not only putting in place the policies and systems required to achieve better education (and broader socio-economic) outcomes, but also, socio-cultural and spiritual support that re-instills hope and a future-focus on improved quality of life and education for First Nation learners.
This paper, “A Critical Perspective on the Canadian Education Gap: Assessing First Nation Student Education Outcomes in Canada” aims to unpack the history of First Nations education in Canada, and initiate a critical path forward through three key recommendations.