Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Aboriginal Voice Making Noise: Twinkle's Happy Place and looking at Provincial Mandates

There is a blog I really enjoy following, Twinkle's Happy Place, whose sub-heading reads:
"Connecting teachers to research and resources for integrating Aboriginal curriculum and pedagogy into their classrooms." This site is the blogging site of a friend and colleague of mine, named Starleigh Grass.  I follow her on Twitter at  She regularly announces her updates on Twitter and it is always good to run over to her site and see what's new.  Starleigh comments on Indigenous education research, reviews resources as she comes across it, shares study guides and lesson ideas and comments on the state of Aboriginal education in general.  I thoroughly enjoy reading her commentary.  I would encourage you to head over there to check it out.

I was drawn there this morning by two excellent posts that look at the Aboriginal Education programs of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  Her posts Aboriginal Education in Saskatchewan and What Does inclusive Aboriginal Education look like? Ask Manitoba were easy to read and very enlightening.  She basically looked at the two provinces' Aboriginal education mandates and summarized them for us, providing an overview of how the provinces are doing and even providing access to BC's Ab. Ed. website to provide local context.  I am thrilled about this.  My last post prompted some twitter comments that suggested it might be time for Ab. Ed. advocates across the provinces to start sharing and collaborating with each other, to find out what everyone is doing and to use the best of the various routes and practices into Aboriginal education and its successes.

I have always been drawn to Saskatchewan's programming.  My father was from Saskatchewan and I have family ties to the Keeseekoose First Nation out in Treaty Four territory.  I have also read that Saskatchewan's Aboriginal population is growing at such a rate that it is possible that they might regain the majority in Saskatchewan by the end of this century.  I cannot remember the source of that comment, so take it whichever way you choose.  I have used resources found on Saskatchewan's education sites to teach Social Studies, English and BC First Nations Studies 12.  I am impressed with their work out there and think we should also be looking at what they have done and follow their lead a bit more.  I am currently reading a book about an Aboriginal community, in Saskatchewan, and its high school and what they are doing to achieve success for their students.  It is a study by Jo-ann Archibald and others and its name escapes me at the moment but it is exciting research and I will share more about it when I finish it and I have time.

I was excited to see Starleigh's post on Manitoba's system as well, for which she wrote (and incorporated) the following:

It includes background information on Aboriginal worldview, spirituality, and educational history.  It also includes specific learning outcomes tied to Aboriginal education.

It lists the goals of incorporating Aboriginal perspectives:
For Aboriginal students
-to develop positive self-identity through learning their own histories, cultures, traditional values, contemporary lifestyles, and traditional knowledge
-to participate in a learning environment that will equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to participate more fully in the unique civil and cultural realities of their communities
For non-Aboriginal students 
-to develop an understanding and respect for the histories, cultures, traditional values, contemporary lifestyles, and traditional knowledge of Aboriginal peoples 
-to develop informed opinions on matters relating to Aboriginal peoples 

As well as outcomes that they hope will come from integrating Aboriginal perspectives:
-improvement of the academic performance of Aboriginal students 
-elimination of the stereotypes that exist in mainstream and non-mainstream cultures 
-improvement of the quality of life of Aboriginal peoples 
-increase the representation of Aboriginal peoples in post-secondary schools 
-increase the representation of Aboriginal peoples in all sectors of the workforce 
This is very exciting stuff to see.  And I thought I would share it out with you.  Please check out their websites and check out Starleigh's blog.  You won't be disappointed.

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