Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.
George Washington Carver
We, the First Nations are the aboriginals (also known as Indians) who have been living in Canada for thousands of years. The term First Nations was introduced back in the 70s or 80s since we dislike to be addressed as “Indians”. For more information on terminology click here.
Our ancestors used to rule North America from one corner to another under the flags of hundreds of different tribes.
However, with the arrival of the European settlers, the natives started to lose their influence and soon the new power emerged over the horizon.
Despite being taken over, the first peoples of Canada have always been known for our peaceful interaction with our European counterparts.
Through peace agreements and commerce, both sides learned to coexist, avoiding unnecessary violence.
First Nations Education
Although a native like me can take admission to almost any Canadian school or college, there are established institutions designed solely for native students.
There are well over five hundred First Nations elementary and secondary schools available on reserve lands. A large portion of the natives enrol their children in these schools.
However, statistics show that more than half of the native students do not complete high school while only about 10% to 15% non-natives fall under those criteria.
First Nations Education: Post Secondary Education (PSE)
We have around 60 post secondary institutions in Canada that offers a wide range of programs to approximately 10,000 aboriginals.
These programs include adult upgrading, degree, certificate, diploma and preparatory programs.
However, there is a huge number of the native population that does not hold any kind of certificate at all.
The situation is even more depressing if you consider the statistics in higher education.
Very few of us attend university for higher education despite the fact that there are so many renowned universities in the country where foreign students are admitted.
Although the Canadian government has passed several acts and came up with education programs for Canadian natives, we haven’t seen a proper implementation of those decisions in reality.
More often than not, you will find a First Nations college with a library that only fulfils the basic requirements.
However, no concrete steps have been taken to upgrade the system to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
I hope someday the situation will change and we will see true reforms to the First Nations education system so that we can have access to the same facilities that the non-aboriginals enjoy and profit from.