Redefining How Success is Measured in First Nations, Inuit

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REDEFINING HOW SUCCESS IS MEASURED in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Learning 2007 07 REPORT on learning in Canada REDEFINING HOW SUCCESS IS MEASURED in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Learning Ottawa Offi ce 215–50 O’Connor Street Ottawa ON Canada K1P 6L2 Tel.: 613.782.2959 Fax: 613.782.2956 Vancouver Offi ce 1805–701 West Georgia Street P.O. Box 10132 Vancouver BC Canada V7Y 1C6 Tel.: 604.662.3101 Fax: 604.662.3168 This publication is available electronically on the Canadian Council on Learning’s website at For additional information, please contact: Communications Canadian Council on Learning 215–50 O’Connor Street, Ottawa ON K1P 6L2 Tel.: 613.782.2959 Fax: 613.782.2956 E-mail: [email protected] © 2007 Canadian Council on Learning All rights reserved. This publication can be reproduced in whole or in part with the written permission of the Canadian Council on Learning. To gain this permission, please contact: [email protected]. These materials are to be used solely for non-commercial purposes. Cite this publication in the following format: Redefining How Success is Measured in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Learning, Report on Learning in Canada 2007 (Ottawa: 2007). page(s). Published in November 2007. Ottawa, Ontario ISBN 978-0-9783880-5-8 Aussi disponible en français sous le titre Redéfinir le mode d’évaluation de la réussite chez les Premières nations, les Inuits et les Métis. The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded through an agreement with Human Resources and Social Development Canada. Its mandate is to promote and support evidence-based decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood through to the senior years. Acknowledgements The Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) would like to thank all First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning professionals and researchers who contributed to the development of the Holistic Lifelong Learning Models (see Appendix B). Without your leadership, vision and knowledge, the success of this initiative would not be possible. Thanks to each of the National Aboriginal Organizations—Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), Métis National Council, Native Women’s Association of Canada, and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples—for providing ongoing support for this initiative. CCL gratefully acknowledges the directors, coordinators and Animation Theme Bundle leads of CCL’s Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre for their demonstrated commitment to First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning. 1 Table of conTenTs INTRODUCTION .........................................................................2 CHAPTER 1: Understanding First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning ..............................................................4 1.1 Diverse peoples, diverse communities ....................... 4 1.2 A growing Aboriginal population ............................... 4 1.3 First Nations, Inuit and Métis holistic lifelong learning ...5 CHAPTER 2: The need to redefine how success is measured in Aboriginal learning ..............................................8 2.1 Current research and approaches in Canada ............. 8 2.2 International efforts to measure Indigenous learning ...12 2.3 Current data challenges ........................................... 13 CHAPTER 3: Toward a holistic approach to measurement .....16 3.1 Guiding principles ..................................................... 16 3.2 First Nations, Inuit and Métis workshops .................. 16 CHAPTER 4: Three Holistic Lifelong Learning Models ............18 4.1 First Nations Holistic Lifelong Learning Model ......... 18 4.2 Inuit Holistic Lifelong Learning Model ...................... 20 4.3 Métis Holistic Lifelong Learning Model .................... 22 CHAPTER 5: Demonstrating the use of the Holistic Lifelong Learning Models ...........................................24 5.1 Toward a national framework .................................. 24 5.2 Online tools: improving access to information ......... 28 CHAPTER 6: Summary and Future Directions .........................29 6.1 Summary ................................................................... 29 6.2 Future Directions ...................................................... 30 6.3 What CCL will do? .................................................... 31 APPENDICES ........................................................................32 A: Existing applications of holistic measurement frameworks A-1 FNSA School Measures and Data Collection Project .............................................. 32 A-2 First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey..................................................... 33 B: Partners in redefining how success is measured ....... 35 C: Initial Holistic Lifelong Learning Model, February 2007 ........................................................... 38 D: Revised Inuit Holistic Lifelong Learning Model, May 2007 .................................................................. 39 ENDNOTES ..........................................................................40 2 First Nations, Inuit and Métis have long advocated learning that affirms their own ways of knowing, cultural traditions and values. However, they also desire Western education that can equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to participate in Canadian society. First Nations, Inuit and Métis recognize that “two ways of knowing” will foster the necessary conditions for nurturing healthy, sustainable communities. Over the last four decades, the importance of Aboriginal learning to community well-being has become a critical issue as First Nations, Inuit and Métis people continue to experience poorer health and higher rates of unemploy- ment, incarceration, and youth suicide than non-Aboriginal people. As the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development affirmed in February 2007, “It is rare to find unanimity on any topic in the realm of public policy. When it comes to Aboriginal education, however, the now overwhelming consensus [is] that improving educational outcomes is absolutely critical to the future of individual Aboriginal learners, their families and children, their communities, and the broader Canadian society as a whole.”1 Increasingly, Aboriginal communities are administering educational programs and services formerly delivered by non-Aboriginal governments. They are developing culturally relevant curriculum and community-based language and culture programs, and creating their own educational institutions. Yet as Aboriginal people work to improve community well- being through lifelong learning, they recognize the need to identify appropriate measurement tools that will help them assess what is working and what is not. Therefore, a key challenge for Aboriginal Peoples—and for educators and governments working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to improve learning conditions—is to articulate a comprehensive definition of what is meant by “learning success,” and develop and implement an appropriate framework for measuring it. In January 2007, the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) reported on the progress of Aboriginal learning in the State of Learning in Canada: No Time for Complacency. The release of the report marked CCL’s formative effort to monitor and report more accurately on the holistic nature of Aboriginal learning across the lifespan. CCL broadened the scope of research by including indicators such as Aboriginal languages and cultures, early development and learning, and community-based education. However, as the State of Learning 2007 concluded, existing information does not lend itself to conveying a comprehensive picture of the state of First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning in Canada. Although current data and indicators on Aboriginal learning provide useful information, they are limited for a number of reasons: Most research on Aboriginal learning is oriented toward the educational deficits of Aboriginal people, overlooks positive learning outcomes and does not account for the unique political, social and economic realities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Current data on Aboriginal learning focusses on youth and young adult learning (high school and post-secondary education). It does not monitor progress across the full spectrum of lifelong learning, from infancy through the lifespan of a human being. Indicators focus on years of schooling and performance on standardized assessments. They do not reflect the purpose or nature of holistic learning—engaging the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional dimensions—for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Current data predominantly measure learning success within the framework of the formal educational system and do not reflect Aboriginal experiential learning and traditional educational activities outside the classroom. The State of Learning 2007 concluded that current indicators need to be broadened to reflect the holistic, lifelong nature of Aboriginal learning. To this end, CCL and its Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre are now working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning professionals, community practitioners, researchers and governments to define what is meant by learning success— and to identify the indicators needed to capture a holistic view of lifelong learning that reflects Aboriginal needs and aspirations. In spring 2007, CCL organized a series of workshops and dialogues with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, to develop three draft Holistic Lifelong Learning Models. These adaptable, holistic learning models help map the relationships between learning purposes, processes and outcomes across the lifespan; affirm First Nations, Inuit and Métis values and beliefs; and provide the basis for developing frameworks to measure learning success. • • • • InTroducTIon redefInIng How success Is Measured In fIrsT naTIons, InuIT and MéTIs learnIng 3 Redefining How Success is Measured in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Learning reports on the progress of this cooperative initiative. The report: outlines the key characteristics of holistic lifelong learning for First Nations, Inuit and Métis as identified in the literature; identifies data gaps and challenges that limit our understanding of Aboriginal learning; presents three draft Holistic Lifelong Learning Models for First Nations, Inuit and Métis; and proposes how each model can be used to develop a national, holistic framework for measuring lifelong learning. The learning models, framework and rationale outlined in this report support an alternative vision of Aboriginal learning. The Holistic Lifelong Learning Models themselves provide First Nations, Inuit and Métis people with an opportunity to articulate and explore—and for non-Aboriginal Canadians to appreciate—the value of Aboriginal holistic lifelong learning as an essential human endeavour that can benefit us all. • • • • CCL and its partners in this initiative recognize the many challenges associated with implementing such an alternative vision on the ground, but are confident that the inherent depth and scope of the Holistic Lifelong Learning Models provide a solid foundation for identifying specific aspects of learning that need to be measured appropriately. If decades of Aboriginal poverty and marginalization are to be reversed, there is an urgent need to re-examine what is understood as First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning and how it is measured and monitored. Comprehensive and accurate information can and must contribute to the development of policies and programs that meet the expressed needs and aspirations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Most importantly, such information empowers the Aboriginal learner, the family, community and education system to effect meaningful change. redefInIng How success Is Measured In fIrsT naTIons, InuIT and MéTIs learnIng 4 cHaPTer 1: understanding first nations, Inuit and Métis learning 1.1 diverse peoples, diverse communities To appreciate what is meant by Aboriginal holistic lifelong learning, it is important to understand that Aboriginal Peoples in Canada encompass hundreds of communities with profoundly diverse cultures, languages, and nation- based governance and treaty-related rights.2 Aboriginal Peoples in Canada comprise three main groups: First Nations, Inuit and Métis.3 These groups are associated with a specific geographic location, such as a First Nation reserve, but also with residentially dispersed groups of people who share a common identity and who may or may not be living on their traditional lands, such as most Métis people. However, the key elements that unite First Nations, Inuit and Métis as a group are their status on, and relationship to, this land;4 their historical relationship to Canada as enshrined in Section 35 of the Constitution;5 and international recognition of their indigenous rights. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted on September 13, 2007, addresses a wide range of individual and collective rights, including rights pertaining to education, health, employment and language.6 Who are aboriginal PeoPles? First nations In 2001, 62% of Aboriginal people self identified as First Nations.7 First Nations Peoples have unique relationships with Canada deriving from treaties or pre-existing Aboriginal rights. First Nations8 includes both status and non-status Indians living on reserves (45%) or off reserves. The majority of First Nations individuals live in Ontario (188,315), British Columbia (179,025), Alberta (156,220), Manitoba (150,040) and Saskatchewan (130,190).9 There are more than 50 known First Nations languages.10 Métis Métis people comprise 30% of Aboriginal people. The Métis are self-identified peoples of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry, who are associated with recognized settlements located primarily in the western provinces of Alberta (66,055), Manitoba (56,795), British Columbia (44,265), and Saskatchewan (43,695), and in the provinces of Ontario (48,345) and Québec (15,850). Métis also comprise a significant proportion of the Aboriginal population of Newfoundland and Labrador. The traditional language of the Métis is Michif.11 Métis are distributed evenly among large cities (39%), towns and small cities (29%), and rural areas (29%). Distinctive social and economic differences exist between Métis sub-populations living in, for example, remote northern Métis communities and those Métis residing in urban centres such as Winnipeg and Regina.12 inuit Inuit are from Arctic areas of North America, as well as from other countries with polar regions. They have diverse cultural traits and speak six dialects of Inuktitut. The Inuit population of 45,000 comprises 5% of Aboriginal people. Over 70% of Inuit live in the four Northern land-claim areas of Nunavik (northern Québec), Nunatsiavut (Newfoundland and Labrador), Inuvialuit (Northwest Territories) and Nunavut (where almost half the Inuit population reside). The majority of Inuit living outside the four Inuit regions live in urban centres.13 1.2 A growing AboriginAl populAtion The Aboriginal population is young and its numbers are growing. In the 2001 census, nearly 1 million (976,305) people identified themselves as Aboriginal, representing 3% of the Canadian population;14 60% were youth under the age of 29.15 Inuit have the youngest population—nearly half (49%) were under the age of 20 in 2001.16 As the non-Aboriginal school-age population in Canada is expected to decline by nearly 400,000 children by 2017, the projected 374,200 Aboriginal school-age children in 2017 will constitute a larger proportion of Canada’s children, especially in the Northern territories, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.17 In Saskatchewan, for example, Aboriginal children make up more than 20% of the school-age population (ages five to 19), a proportion that is expected to grow to more than 33% by 2017.18 As Aboriginal children and youth enter the labour market in coming years, they will account for an increasingly high proportion of the working-age population, particularly in provinces and territories that have the highest proportion of Aboriginal people.19 It is estimated that there are currently about 300,000 Aboriginal children and youth who could enter the labour force over the next 15 years20 and help contribute to a predicted shortfall of 1 million workers across Canada by the year 2020.21 undersTandIng fIrsT naTIons, InuIT and MéTIs learnIng cHaPTer 01 5 “The expansion of a youthful Aboriginal population occurring simultaneously with the ageing of the mainstream boomer population presents challenges for the childcare and education system as well as housing, but could also proffer previously unprecedented labour and employment opportunity for Aboriginal youth.”22 —National Council of Welfare, 2007 Key attributes of Aboriginal learning To compartmentalize Aboriginal holistic lifelong learning may contradict the integrative nature of this perspective. However, such a compartmentalization is useful to help explain the perspective’s essential qualities. A review of the literature on First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning identifies several key attributes of Aboriginal learning, which are described in detail below: Learning is holistic. Learning is a lifelong process. Learning is experiential in nature. Learning is rooted in Aboriginal languages and cultures. Learning is spiritually oriented. Learning is a communal activity, involving family, community and Elders. Learning is an integration of Aboriginal and Western knowledge. Learning is holistic The learning process simultaneously engages and develops all aspects of the individual—emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual31—and of the collective. Individual learning is viewed as but one part of a collective that extends beyond the family, community and nation to Creation itself. Knowledge is not classified into hierarchical competencies or disciplinary specializations; all knowledge, including knowledge of language, culture and traditions, and all existence (humans, animals, plants, cosmos, etc.) are related by virtue of their shared origins (the Creator).32 Information tends to be framed around relationships such as the interconnectedness of humans, animals, plants, the environment and the Creator.33 • • • • • • • undersTandIng fIrsT naTIons, InuIT and MéTIs learnIng 1.3 First nAtions, inuit And métis holistic liFelong leArning As the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples noted, Aboriginal people advocate a holistic lifelong learning approach that will develop citizens “who can linguistically and culturally assume the responsibilities of their nation,” while also preparing their children and youth “to participate in Canadian society.”23 Despite their diverse cultures, histories and geographies, First Nations, Inuit and Métis people share a vision of learning as a purposeful, holistic, lifelong process. This vision entails certain shared principles and values that shape and influence how they see themselves in relation to the world, and that form the foundation of their learning. Intrinsic to Aboriginal learning is the nurturing of relationships among the individual, the family, the community, the nation, and all of Creation.24 Learning encompasses shared values and identity, developed through the learner’s relationship to other persons and to the environment.25 Individual development and personal responsibility are viewed within the larger context of contributing to the collective. Aboriginal learning can be viewed as a process that naturally builds on social capital—a term that generally refers to the development of social relationships and networks based on trust and shared values that ultimately foster community well-being.26, 27 Many researchers maintain that Aboriginal people invest significant time and energy into building social capital, but it is often manifested in ways “that are not registered in terms of economic development.”28 From an Aboriginal perspective, social capital entails building and sustaining a healthy community based on an approach that values kinship networks and community relationships, and that reintegrates Aboriginal people’s connection to nature and the land.29 As Mignone suggests, an Aboriginal community with higher levels of social capital “would be expected to have a culture of trust, participation, collective action and norms of reciprocity.”30 “Aboriginal knowledge is based on observation, direct experience, testing, teaching and recording in the collective memory through oral tradition, storytelling, ceremonies, and songs. The fact that Native science is not fragmented into specialized compartments does not mean that it is not based on rational thinking, but that it is based on the belief that all things are connected and must be considered within the context of that interrelationship. In order to maintain harmony and balance, this holistic approach gives the same importance to rational thinking as it does to spiritual beliefs and social values.”34 cHaPTer 01 6 Learning is lifelong Many Aboriginal Peoples such as the First Nations of the plains (Blackfoot, Cree, Dakota and others) use the Medicine Wheel—a circle divided into quadrants—to illustrate the progressive growth of self through a cyclical journey.35 The Wheel also conveys the passage of the four seasons, the integration of emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual aspects of human development, and the interconnectedness of all life. The Medicine Wheel presents learning as a lifelong process connected to all stages of human development, beginning before birth and continuing through childhood to old age. Knowledge and wisdom, acquired through a lifetime of learning are transmitted to younger learners in a process that repeats itself with successive generations. Learning is experiential The traditional Aboriginal classroom consisted of the community and the natural environment. Each adult was responsible for ensuring that each child learned the specific skills, attitudes and knowledge they needed to function in everyday life.36 Experiential learning is seen as connected to lived experience, as in learning by doing, and is structured formally through regular community interactions such as sharing circles, ceremonies, meditation, or story telling, and daily activities. Isumaqsayuq is an Inuit concept of learning through observation and imitation that occurs as part of daily family and community activities such as food preparation or hunting.37 Although experiential learning is most often associated with activities that occur outside the formal classroom, it is a purposeful and essential mode of learning for First Nations, Métis and Inuit. learning FroM Place Learning is tied to place in ways that could be described as “spiritual.” As Watkins suggests, Aboriginal people’s relationship to the land is “not one of ownership per se, for we are owned more by the land, tied to it more strongly, than the land is owned by us. We are tied to it by obligations and responsibilities established by our ancestors in times far back, and we pass those obligations on to our children and grandchildren.”38 Integral to the learning process is knowledge of sacred places—such as burial sites and traditional hunting grounds— which tie the culture to the land and remind people “of their past and their future, their ancestors and their offspring, their spirit and their obligations.”39 Cajete suggests that Indigenous scientific and cultural knowledge of local environments and pedagogy of place offer many opportunities for comparative research into how traditional Indigenous ways of learning and knowing can expand our understanding of basic educational processes for all students.40 _______________ “Learning from Place” is one of CCL’s Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre’s six areas of focus and explores how learning of traditional knowledge, processes and practices is related to living in a particular place. cHaPTer 01 Learning is rooted in Aboriginal languages and cultures Landmark documents on Aboriginal learning, including Indian Control of Indian Education (1972)41 and the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), affirm the pivotal role that languages and cultures play in successful Aboriginal learning. Through language, Aboriginal Peoples transmit cultural knowledge from one generation to another and make sense of their shared experience.42, 43 Aboriginal languages reflect the unique worldviews of Indigenous Peoples’ toward their land, contains the “knowledge of technologies and life’s rhythms of that specific place”, and “is nothing short of a living, working, practical toolkit for survival in that specific region.”44 Language connects Aboriginal people to their culture’s system of values about how they ought to live and relate to each other.45 As Aboriginal languages encode unique ways of interpreting the world, they are seen as inseparable from issues of Aboriginal identity46 and the maintenance of Aboriginal knowledge systems.47 Learning is spiritually oriented Central to the Aboriginal worldview is the pre-eminence of spiritual development that derives from a reverence for life and affirmation of the interconnectedness of all beings.48 undersTandIng fIrsT naTIons, InuIT and MéTIs learnIng 7 To understand the reality of physical existence, to make ‘knowing possible,’ the individual turns inward to connect with the energy that manifests itself in all existence.49 Spiritual experience is, therefore, equated with knowledge in itself and is manifested in the physical world through ceremony, vision quests and dreams. Therefore, knowledge is a sacred object, and seeking knowledge is a spiritual quest.50 Many Aboriginal people have conceptualized the learning spirit as an entity that emerges from the complex interrelationships between the learner and his or her learning journey. Battiste concludes that “when the spirit is absent, learning becomes difficult, unfulfilling, and, perhaps, impossible.”51 Learning is a communal activity The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples noted the central role of family and community as lifelong educators: “Traditional education prepared youth to take up adult responsibilities. Through apprenticeship and teaching by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, skills and knowledge were shaped and honed. In the past, the respective roles of men and women in community life were valued and well established, with continuity from generation to generation, so that youth saw their future roles modelled by adults and elders who were respected and esteemed within their world.”52 Thus parental and family involvement in community learning can entail diverse roles: parents and family as the first educators in the home, as central partners with the school and as advocates and key decision-makers for all children and youth.53 Elders play a key role as facilitators of lifelong learning. They teach responsibilities and relationships among family, community and creation, reinforcing intergenerational connections and identities.54 Elders transmit the community’s culture through parables, allegories, lessons and poetry, presented over a long period of time. They play an important role in fostering culturally affirming school environments that link students, staff, families and community to Aboriginal cultures and traditions.55 Learning integrates Aboriginal and Western knowledge Aboriginal learning is not a static activity, but rather an adaptive process that derives the best from traditional and contemporary knowledge. cHaPTer 01 As Inuit Elders have suggested, there is “great continuity between the past and the present, tradition and modernity. Inuit have always known how to adapt to new contexts. They do not just want to go back to the traditions of the past, but they also wish to apply Inuit traditions that have proven their value to solving modern problems. They wish to integrate the good and useful traditions from the past into modern institutions.”56 “From the earliest days of contact, Aboriginal parents have had the deeply held desire for education that would equip their children to reap the benefits of the knowledge and technologies of the Euro-Canadian society. However, they have maintained a parallel desire to preserve their own ways of knowing, cultural traditions and heritage. For Aboriginal students, education is not an “either or” proposition, but a “yes and” situation.”57 Learning that integrates Western and Indigenous knowledge, research shows, can counteract the effects of cultural mismatch that have contributed to low participation of Aboriginal people in, for example, science and engineering and post-secondary programs.58 Over the last two decades, various learning projects in Canada and the United States have demonstrated the successful merging of Aboriginal and Western knowledge that offers students a balanced two ways of knowing approach.59 alaska rural systeMic initiative (akrsi) Established in 1995 as a joint project of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Alaska Federation of Natives and the National Science Foundation, the AKRSI involves 176 schools and approximately 20,000 students (mostly Aboriginal) in a program to integrate local Aboriginal knowledge and pedagogical practices into all aspects of the education system. Over the years, the AKRSI has strengthened the quality of educational experiences and improved the academic performances of students in participating schools throughout rural Alaska.60 undersTandIng fIrsT naTIons, InuIT and MéTIs learnIng 8 2.1 current reseArch And ApproAches in cAnAdA Inuit and Métis have achieved. Research viewed through a deficit lens tends to encourage the development of policy and programs that respond to a deficit instead of supporting the positive successes that lead to improved learning outcomes.61 For example, the most commonly reported indicator that measures success of Aboriginal learning is the high-school dropout rate. According to the 2001 national census, the proportion of Aboriginal people that did not attain a high- school diploma was more than 2.5 times higher than the proportion of non-Aboriginal Canadians. The gap in high- school attainment was highest for Inuit (3.6 times higher). Figure 1: Proportion of population aged 20 to 24 with incomplete high-school learning, 2001 15 43 32 54 58 41 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Non-Aboriginal population Total Aboriginal Métis Inuit First Nations (on-reserve) First Nations (off-reserve) Source: Statistics Canada, 2001 Census The presentation and interpretation of this information in the research, however, is rarely accompanied by contextual information to help demonstrate the multitude of barriers Aboriginal learners face as high-school students.62, 63 For example, many Inuit and First Nations students living on reserve have historically identified that their primary reason for dropping out of high school was the requirement to leave their community and travel long distances to attend the nearest high school. This meant they had to leave behind parents and community supports.64, 65 Although access to community high schools in Nunavut has improved in recent years, Inuit students are now leaving high school primarily to enter the labour force, to help at home or to care for a child. cHaPTer 2: The need to redefine how success is measured in aboriginal learning As provinces and territories move to implement Canada-wide testing of students, the goals of education embodied in such testing are defined by non-Aboriginal authorities. Some Aboriginal parents and communities may share these goals, but it should not be assumed that they will place them above their own goals for the education of their children. Self-determination in education should give Aboriginal people clear authority to create curriculum and set the standards to accomplish their education goals. —1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples As the 2007 State of Learning in Canada reported, current approaches to measuring First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning in Canada do not reflect Aboriginal people’s articulation of holistic, lifelong learning. Although government and researchers’ approaches to monitoring and assessing holistic, lifelong learning often face significant information challenges (these are discussed later in this section), existing data and indicators provide the basis for broadening the scope of research to encompass the holistic attributes of Aboriginal learning. Despite this, current research and approaches to measuring Aboriginal learning in Canada often: are orientated toward measuring learning deficits, do not account for social, economic and political factors, do not monitor progress across the full spectrum of lifelong learning, do not reflect the holistic nature of First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning, and do not reflect the importance of experiential learning. Current approaches are oriented toward learning deficits Some of the research on Aboriginal learning presents the learning deficits of Aboriginal people and overlooks the positive learning outcomes that many First Nations, • • • • • THe need To redefIne How success Is Measured In aborIgInal learnIng cHaPTer 02 9 ProMising Practices in Post-secondary education The 2007 report on Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education from the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development cited the following examples of successful Aboriginal initiatives.66 Since 1985, the Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS) Program has offered Nunavut high-school graduates culturally appropriate transitional programming. The NS Program has an 80% completion rate and a high employment record for its graduates. The Prince Albert Grand Council in northern Saskatchewan carries out significant data-collection and tracking in relation to secondary and post-secondary learners and uses the results to enhance its policy formulation and decision-making. The First Nations Technical Institute offers a variety of diploma, degree and certificate programs, uses various delivery methods to reduce barriers to PSE, and has a 90% employment rate for graduates. Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia works to obtain commitments from mainstream post-secondary institutions to invest in the community and treats post-secondary education as a top priority, financing every applicant. • • • • Current approaches do not account for social, economic and political realities Current research tends not to recognize that the economic, health and social challenges that inhibit Aboriginal people’s opportunities for lifelong learning well exceed those experienced by non-Aboriginal Canadians. In 2001, four out of 10 (41%) Aboriginal children aged 14 years or younger were living in low-income families, while nearly one-quarter (22%) of First Nations people living on reserve occupied sub-standard housing, compared to 2.5% of the general Canadian population.71 Figure 2: children under 15 years living in low-income families, 2001 41 48 33 24 18 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Aboriginal First Nations Métis Inuit Non-Aboriginal Source: Statistics Canada, Census 2001 Poor economic and living conditions also contribute to comparatively poor health. Diabetes among Aboriginal people occurs at rates three to five times higher than in the general Canadian population.72 Although there is much variation among communities, suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth than for non-Aboriginal youth. Suicide rates among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average.73 deFinitions and concePts indicator: For the purposes of this report, an indicator is defined as a statistic that helps quantify the achievement of a desired result or outcome.67, 68 An example of an indicator is university completion rates. Framework: Given the broad scope and complexity of lifelong learning, a single indicator does not provide enough information to measure its outcomes. Thus, a series of indicators, or framework, is required. A framework helps define the scope of a concept such as lifelong learning and organizes the various structural components of that concept in a coherent way. A measurement framework provides the starting point for a planned approach to measuring success.69, 70 Measure: For the purposes of this report, a measure defines how the indicators will be quantified and has specifically defined units. For example, a measure used to quantify the university completion rate indicator may be the proportion of the population aged 25 to 34 who completed a university degree. THe need To redefIne How success Is Measured In aborIgInal learnIng cHaPTer 02 10 The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples affirms the disruptive impact of historical policies and legislation on the social, economic and cultural foundations of Aboriginal communities.74 The imposition of the residential school system, the loss of lands, reduced access to resources and prohibitions regarding the practice of traditional ceremonies and Aboriginal languages all took their toll on the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.75 Measurement approaches that focus on discrete stages in formal learning of youth often do not allow for the monitoring of learners’ progress during educational transitions, such as between high school and post- secondary school, when many Aboriginal learners enroll in university and college entrance programs to upgrade their skills.81 For example, existing information on Aboriginal adult learning is limited, revealing some of the challenges that governments and researchers face when measuring lifelong learning for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. One of the frequently reported indicators analyzes Aboriginal adult literacy using the International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALSS).82 IALSS identifies that in 2003, Aboriginal adults living in cities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, as well as the Inuit in Nunavut, scored, on average, lower in prose literacy83 relative to the overall Canadian population. Figure 3: Proportion of aboriginal and non-aboriginal population with prose literacy below level 3, aged 16 and over, canada, 2003 61 45 55 29 69 30 88 29 39 63 Canada, 48% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Urban- Aboriginal Non- Aboriginal Urban- Aboriginal Non- Aboriginal Aboriginal Non- Aboriginal Aboriginal Non- Aboriginal Aboriginal Non- Aboriginal Manitoba Saskatchewan Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut Source: Statistics Canada. Building on our Competencies: Canadian Results of the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey 2003. (Ottawa: 2005). Note: IALSS is limited to select cities and territories in Canada, was conducted only in English and French and was not available in any Aboriginal language. Since 60% of Nunavummiut who took part in the survey identified Inuktitut as the language for which they use on a regular basis, the results are limited and can be misleading in identifying the complete literacy skills for Inuit adults.84 There are no available data that measure work-related learning for First Nations, Inuit and Métis adults. Yet workplace-training data on the general population indicate that most adult learning and education in Canada consists of job-related training; in almost all other countries surveyed by the OECD, job-related training accounted for more than 80% of all education and training courses taken by adults.85 cHaPTer 02 the residential school systeM In 1891, the Government of Canada amended the Indian Act to make school attendance mandatory for every First Nations child between the ages of seven and 15, as part of a program to assimilate Aboriginal people into the Canadian cultural mainstream. By 1930, this had led to the creation of more than 80 residential schools.76 Many children were separated from their families and communities to attend residential schools, where they suffered from sexual, physical, and mental abuse.77 The 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples concluded that many of the current challenges facing Aboriginal communities, including violence, alcoholism and loss of identity, spirituality and language, can be tied to the residential school experience.78 Aboriginal leaders have also pointed to systemic impediments to lifelong learning. Non-Aboriginal educational systems, for example, often lack the capacity to teach Aboriginal culture, languages, traditions, values and approaches to learning.79 Many reports on Aboriginal learning have described racism and discrimination in the learning experiences of Aboriginal people,80 which has prompted many Aboriginal people to distrust non- Aboriginal educational systems and has hampered the progress of some Aboriginal students. Current approaches do not monitor the full spectrum of lifelong learning Current approaches to measuring Aboriginal learning tend to focus on a particular stage of formal learning such as early-childhood or secondary-school education. These approaches reflect the respective jurisdictional responsibilities of provincial and territorial education systems but may conflict with First Nations, Inuit and Métis perspectives on learning as an ongoing process integral to all stages in life. THe need To redefIne How success Is Measured In aborIgInal learnIng 11 nunavut adult learning strategy: a neW FraMeWork Research shows that 25% of Inuit children graduate from high school in Nunavut and that the working- age population in Nunavut has the lowest literacy skills level of any jurisdiction in Canada.86 To engage adult learners in the cultural, social and economic development of Nunavut in 2005, the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. developed a Nunavut Adult Learning Strategy. The Nunavut Adult Learning Strategy addresses issues associated with literacy (English, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), lack of education and formal training, lack of recognized certification, and lack of opportunity. The strategy is supported by a conceptual framework for evaluating quality in education delivery and identifying strategies and recommended actions. The new framework identifies definitions of how success is measured and lists key performance indicators and mechanisms to record and validate information. The framework allows, where possible, for measurement indicators that meet national standards in order to compare Nunavut’s adult education outcomes with other jurisdictions.87 cHaPTer 02 Furthermore, as provincial and territorial curricula, in general, are built on a Western knowledge foundation, current approaches to measuring learning among First Nations, Inuit and Métis tend not to reflect the acquisition of Aboriginal knowledge (traditional, spiritual, ecological, etc.), which is integral to issues of cultural continuity, identity and, ultimately, successful learning. Current approaches do not reflect the holistic nature of First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning “We cannot talk about being an intelligent person without knowledge of and access to all the levels of our intelligence capacity—i.e., the intelligence of the body, the mind, heart and spirit. The intelligence of the mind, for instance, does not operate to its fullest creative, discriminating, and encompassing potential without its active partnership with the intelligence of the heart.” —First Nations Centre. Regional Health Survey Cultural Framework, 2005 Holistic learning engages and develops all aspects of the individual: emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual. Yet current measurement approaches focus primarily on cognitive and intellectual development,88 relying on standardized assessments that test intellectual performance rather than the development of the whole person. “Intelligence has been defined for us through the eyes of the Euro-American psychological and scientific culture. Its definition is limited in its application and understanding. What we have been pursuing as Indigenous people, since our involvement in education in the contemporary experience, is attempting to measure up to their definition of intelligence. To be as productive as they are, as successful as they are, to be as intelligent as they are. In doing so, we have lost the encompassing nature of our definition of intelligence—Indigenous intelligence.” —First Nations Centre. Regional Health Survey Cultural Framework, February 2005 One exception is the approaches used by most provincial and territorial governments to assess the holistic domains of early learning using data instruments, such as the Early Development Index (EDI), to research and measure children’s readiness for school. Although data specific to First Nations, Inuit and Métis are limited, the approach recognizes the holistic domains of child development, including: physical, cognitive, language and communication skills, and emotional and social maturity.89 In British Columbia, for example, the EDI identifies that 39% of Aboriginal children are “not ready” for school in at least one of the five domains of child development, compared to 25% of non-Aboriginal children. Figure 4: Proportion of aboriginal children under five years of age, in british columbia, who are “not ready” for school, 2000–2004 11 11 23 16 16 20 13 39 25 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% Physical & well-being Social Competence Emotional Language & cognitive development Communication and general knowledge 1 or more domains Aboriginal Children All Children Source: Kershaw P, Irwin L, Trafford K, Hertzman C. (2005) The British Columbia Atlas of Child Development. Human Early Learning Partnership. Western Geographical Press, Vol 40. THe need To redefIne How success Is Measured In aborIgInal learnIng 12 Early childhood learning data instruments, like the EDI, help assess the many dimensions of early learning development. However, further analysis is needed to determine how these instruments can better reflect holistic, lifelong learning as defined by First Nations, Inuit and Métis by incorporating aspects such as the spiritual dimension of learning. Current approaches do not measure experiential learning For First Nations, Inuit and Métis, learning through experience—including learning from the land, Elders, traditions and ceremonies, and parental and family supports—is a widespread, vital form of learning.90 Data that measure experiential, non-formal and informal learning for Aboriginal people are not available; experiential learning remains invisible and undervalued although it continues to be an important mode of learning. Existing research tends to reinforce an assumption that only formal education is associated with successful learning and, by extension, with success in life. For example, governments and researchers often report on post-secondary participation and attainment rates of Aboriginal people (represented by the completion of formal certificates and diplomas). According to the 2001 census, only 8% of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 34, and 4% of Inuit, had completed a university education in 2001, compared to 28% of the general population. Although it is important to report structured learning that leads to a recognized credential, this information is often presented without recognizing the progress in experiential learning that occurs outside the classroom. Figure 5: Proportion of populations aged 25 to 34 who attained a college diploma, trades certificate or university degree, 2001 33 30 28 34 28 28 8 7 9 4 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Non-Aboriginal population Total Aboriginal population First Nations Métis Inuit College or trade certificate University (includes university certificate or degree) Source: Statistics Canada. Census 2001 2.2 internAtionAl eFForts to meAsure indigenous leArning The international community is encountering similar challenges in its efforts to measure progress in learning and well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Described below are two recent and ongoing international efforts that are developing measurement approaches designed to support improved learning outcomes and enhance community well- being for Indigenous Peoples. United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is examining data gaps and challenges in measuring health, human rights, economic and social development, environment, education and culture.94 The UNPFII initiated this work in 2004 by convening an international exp...