What is the great unmet need we will meet, how will we do it, and why someone should sponsor it.

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Concept Note

What is the great unmet need we will meet, how will we do it, and why someone should sponsor it.

1 Statement of the issue (2-4 paragraphs)

1 What’s the state of the issue? What makes it timely and critical to cover now? (particularly indigenous life in Canada)

Indigenous peoples in Canada have been forced to relocate often. It would be an understatement to say their movements have dislocated once thriving communities of linguistic relatives into a nearly unrecognizable blend of what a contested government has officially labeled “Indians”. The furor of disdain and ridicule with which eclectic groups of settlers refer to “their Indians”, the so called hunter gatherers, was enough to force Canada’s billion dollar news empire to end its public commentary on all stories pertaining to “Indian” peoples. Kingston and Mariano (2010) note, “while longitudinal studies of relocated indigenous communities are rare, the existing literature demonstrates that these moves have detrimental effects on social and cultural cohesion, the maintenance of tradition, and physical and psychological health” (p. 119). With this knowledge it would make sense that practices of forced relocations of Indigenous peoples be immediately ended in Canada, unless of course Canada was not interested in protecting their allies who helped found this country.

Champlain and LeCaron’s arrival to the region of present day Quebec in 1609 singled an upheaval in lower parts of the St. Lawrence River basin, as Europeans settlements became permanent (Trigger, 1987). With support of what would become extensive relationships with Indigenous allies, including the Huron, Petun, Wyandotte, and Chonnonton, “New France” and the “New World”, formed (McShae, 2011). Their arrival is marked by a measurable turning point in the both the geologic and cultural history of humankind, known as the age of the Anthropocene, a contributing factor to the mini ice age beginning shortly thereafter (Lewis & Maslin, 2015). Within 60 years diseases like bubonic plague, diphtheria, pneumonic plague, cholera, influenza, chicken pox, scarlet fever, smallpox, measles, typhus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough caused extraordinary population declines and forced relocations. The archeological record shows a directly association between this movement and Champlain’s travels (Gerrard, 2014). By the time Laval was founded in Quebec in 1663, 204 years before confederation, the Wyandot populations were reduced from roughly 30,000 – 40,000 to less than 8000 inhabitants, representing a 60-80% net decline (Gerrard, 2014).

Today, rather than disease, it is the demand and necessity for education that forces Indigenous peoples to relocate. The Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) estimates that six in ten Indigenous university degree holders are forced to relocate to achieve their education (Bougie, Kelly-Scott & Arriagada, 2013). The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) (2015) reports, “There are approximately 72,000 students attending 518 First Nation schools. Despite these numbers, many children must still leave their homes and families behind if they wish to obtain a higher education, even at the high school level” (p. 147). While the gap between Indigenous students and general student populations in attaining college certificates, diplomas, and trades certificate has narrowed, university attainment gaps “remains wide” (Bougie, Kelly-Scott & Arriagada, 2013, p. 21). “The First Nations Education Council estimates that there is a backlog of over 10,000 First Nations students waiting for post-secondary funding, with an additional $234 million required to erase that backlog and meet current demands” (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015, p. 199). Part of this backlog has resulted from a federal government imposed funding cap on Indigenous education placed in 1989 (Pompana, 1997). Related concerns include a disparity in the number of Indigenous University Instructors (IUI) across Canada, who remain the most underrepresented of any minority group in the university professorate (Henry, et. al., 2017).

Indigenous Cultural Knowledge (ICK) is an essential part of identity construction (Waterfall, 2015) and resiliency against the detrimental impacts of colonialism (Kirmayer, et. al, 2011) for Indigenous peoples. Article 8.2(a) of the United Nations Declaration of the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Canada became a signatory to in 2016 declares, “States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving [Indigenous Peoples] of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities” (United Nations, 2008). A 2015 Universities Canada report notes that ¾ of universities offer some kind of cultural programming, and 25 languages are currently being taught, however, less than 10% of Indigenous peoples ages 25-64 have a university degree, 70% of future jobs in Canada will require post secondary education and at least 70 Indigenous languages are currently spoken. The underrepresentation of IUI exacerbates issues connected to the gap in university attainment since the necessary role models to nurture Indigenous student successes are so few in number. Based on these factors it appears forced relocations are poised to continue further dislocating and harming Indigenous peoples contradicting Article 8.2 in UNDRIP.

a What are the stakes? Why does it matter?

According to the 2016 National Household survey between 2006 and 2016, the self-identified Indigenous population grew by 42.5 per cent — from 1,172,790 to 1,673, 785.

It is estimated that in the next 20 years the population will grow to over 2.5 million. With these numbers the demand for post-secondary education will unquestionably rise. Needs critical to the rise in demand are positive role modelling, culturally oriented programming, and the ability for Indigenous students to learn without having to relocate.
It is estimated that in the next 15 years, over 300,000 Indigenous youth could enter the labour force and over 600,000 in the next 25 years. In May 2009, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) reported that closing the educational gap could lead to an additional $179 billion in direct GDP growth, and over $400 billion in total growth over the next 20 years. However, if the educational gap persists disparities in health and well-being, educational attainment, and socioeconomic status faced by Indigenous peoples and consequently all other Canadian will magnify.

b Which populations are directly or indirectly impacted?

All Canadians

2 Who else is involved (time/money/people at stake)?

The Indigenous Education Protocol Agreement for Colleges and Institutes was established in 2014 by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to guide institutions in addressing the needs of Indigenous education (Tourand et al., 2014). The 13 principles for Indigenous education published by Universities Canada in 2015 seeks to resolve educational disparity faced by Indigenous students.

The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) includes seven recommendations for improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students and was released in 2015. Each of these efforts signifies transformative approaches to positive educational outcomes for Indigenous students. Their implementations will however be interpreted in diverse ways, in alignment with the strategic plans of each institution. It goes without saying that failure to implement these recommendation successfully will result in a further division between graduation rates of Indigenous peoples and the general student population in Canada.

3 What are the sub-themes that need investigation and continuous coverage?

The socio-economic status and health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples are in extremely poor condition (Aguiar & Halseth, 2015, Reading & Wien, 2013, Allan & Smylie, 2015). Lower attainment levels of education is attributed to lower socio economic status (SES), and poorer health.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015) notes, Governments in Canada spend billions of dollars each year in responding to the symptoms of the intergenerational trauma of residential schools. Much of this money is spent on crisis interventions related to child welfare, family violence, ill health, and crime. Despite genuine reform efforts, the dramatic overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in foster care, and among the sick, the injured, and the imprisoned, continues to grow. Only a real commitment to reconciliation will reverse the trend and lay the foundation for a truly just and equitable nation. p. 282)

Plagued by an unrelenting legacy of cultural interference by “agents of colonization”, it seems logical that the recovery of cultural integrity can lead to healing for Indigenous peoples (Thompson, 2002).

Unfortunately, policies of relocation and assimilationist tactics continue to shape Indigenous society in present day Canada, both through the exodus of people from their reserve communities to urban locations, and through the apprehension of Indigenous children by child protective services. Less than half of all First Nations peoples in Canada live on reserves and nearly 15,000 Indigenous children make up half of all children in foster care, despite representing 7% of all children in Canada (Yükselir, and Annett, 2016) Additionally First Nations students attending reserve schools continue to receive 30% less funding than all other students in Canada for their education.

4 What are the policy issues relevant to this arena? How do they play out at the local/federal/international level?

Many efforts are being made to resolve educational disparities, however, almost no conversation is addressing impacts relating to relocation for Indigenous poeples. For example, Article 6-12 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (2015) identifies several areas including immediately ending the disparity in education funding for Indigenous students. In Policy 61. Priority resolutions: Aboriginal Issues they are also seeking to implement a fully transparent consultative processes with Indigenous peoples. Why this isn’t already policy is a troubling refection of what has become the status quo.
The Liberals want to establish educational programming the will assist all Canadians regarding the historical context relating to disparities, which continue to be faced by Indigenous peoples. Additionally, in Priority 133: Respecting Aboriginal Rights the Liberals seek to emphasizing the rights of women and children and the United Nations Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These all appear to be steps in the right direction, but still dislocation from relocation is not being addressed and considering its sever impacts it needs to be a priority.
The liberal government campaign promise to lift a 2% funding cap on Indigenous education in their 2015 election campaign, means funding for progress is coming. This funding cap was stayed for nearly 30 years despite the cost of living and tuition increasing 179% between 1999 and 2007 (Godlewska, Schaefli, & Chaput, 2013). Issues related to the cap will not resolve easily with funding alone. The severe underrepresentation of Indigenous teachers means the efforts of a community of allies and front line workers is needed.

II.     The information/community problem (2-4 paragraphs)

1 What’s the information problem surrounding this issue? What’s missing in the mainstream or independent news environment?

While mainstream media shares facts relating to these issues, having been a front line service provider in education for Indigenous peoples at every level for the past decade I’ve been exposed to the extraordinary level of daily traumas face by Indigenous peoples, especially women, and especially those living in remote communities, though even major urban centres have their fair share of dilemmas. The individual stories are often overlooked. Hearing these stories can inform the general global population on what is really happening and how statistics are actually affecting families. However, the extraordinary levels of racism is plaguing Indigenous peoples. One only need to read public commentary, where still possible, on Indigenous related matters, to witness how part of Canadian society is reflecting a deep hatred within. Racism causes significant stress, which further compounds the issues faced by Indigenous peoples each day (Godlewska, Moore, and Bednasek (2010). It would be great to give voice to these underrepresented stories and learn from Indigenous peoples way they believe issues pertaining to relocation, health disparity, and the gap in education can be resolved.

2 Who is currently covering the issue well?

Since #idlenomore became a movement, a shit has taken place in the ability for Indigenous people to organize, protest, and fight for their rights and dignity. The website http://www.idlenomore.ca/ has a number of up to date resources that cover some relevant issues well.

3 What’s at stake? How is this holding back progress on the issue?

If the educational gap between Indigenous peoples and all other Canadians does not close within twenty years, the cycle of disparity rooted in colonialism, forced relocations, and the residential schooling system, will continue to cause one of Canadas most vulnerable populations, and their extraordinary cultural diversity to vanish. According to a Statistics Canada (2014) report, “Over the past 100 years or more, at least ten once-flourishing [Indigenous] languages [spoken in Canada at the time of colonization] have become extinct”. When an Indigenous language becomes extinct, thousands of years of accumulated environmental wisdom goes with it. At a time when the environment is a whole can of worms in and of itself it would seem preserving languages, cultural diversity, and environmental wisdom based on sustainability, would be an essential priority.

4 Who is part of the community of practice working on this issue?

Some universities in Canada have Indigenous studies departments where teaching language, some culture, and some environmental wisdom have been prioritized. Additionally, most major urban centres have a Friendship Centre and other types of community gathering places where various cultural and linguistic programming is offered. That being said, the main teachers of cultural wisdom continue to be the ancestors, Elders, and medicine societies of each community, which are rarely exposed publicly. As I have said before, there are still unbroken lines of storytellers sharing ancient wisdom, songs, and dances that guide a holistic lifestyle.

5 What are the events or online forums they are currently using to come together?


V.     Philanthropic & Private Sector Stakeholder Environment

1 Who are the major philanthropic stakeholders involved in this arena?
2 What industries are tied to the state of the issue?
a Within those industries, which companies in particular have been most active?
The following organizations offer financial support for Indigenous students in the pursuit of education:

  • Post-Secondary Student Support Program
  • University and College Entrance Preparation Program
  • Post-Secondary Partnerships Program
  • Indspire
  • First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy
  • First Nation and Inuit Skills Link Program
  • First Nation and Inuit Summer Work Experience Program
  • Indigenous Bursaries Search Tool
  • Additional post-secondary federal assistance for Aboriginal students


Aguiar, W., & Halseth, R. (2015). Aboriginal peoples and historic trauma: the processes of intergenerational transmission. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health= Centre de c ollaboration nationale de la santé autochtone. Retrieved from http://www.nccah-ccnsa.ca/ Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/142/2015-04-28-AguiarHalseth-RPT- IntergenTraumaHistory-EN-Web.pdf
Allan, B., & Smylie, J. (2015). First Peoples, second class treatment: The role of racism in the health and well- being of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Wellesley Institute.
Bougie, E., Kelly-Scott, K. & Arriagada, P. (2013). Experiences of First Nations people living off reserve, Inuit and Métis: Selected findings from the 2012 Aboriginal peoples survey. Retrieved from Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 89-653-X, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/ 89-653-x/89-653-x2013001-eng.pdf
Cavanagh, E. (2014). Possession and Dispossession in Corporate New France, 1600–1663: Debunking a “Juridical History” and Revisiting Terra Nullius. Law and History Review, 32(1), 97-125. doi:10.1017/S0738248013000679
Garrad, C. (2014). Petun to Wyandot: The Ontario Petun from the Sixteenth Century. University of Ottawa Press.
Godlewska, A., Moore, J., & Bednasek, C. D. (2010). Cultivating ignorance of Aboriginal realities.
The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien, 54(4), 417-440.
Henry, F., Dua, E., James, C. E., Kobayashi, A., Li, P., Ramos, H., & Smith, M. S. (2017). The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities. UBC Press.
Kingston, D., Mariano, E. (2010). Twice removed: King Islanders’ experiences of “community” through two relocations. Human organization 69, (2), (Summer): 119-128.
Lewis, S. L., & Maslin, M. A. (2015). Defining the anthropocene. Nature, 519(7542), 171-180.
McShea, B. C. (2011). Cultivating Empire Through Print: The Jesuit Strategy for New France and the Parisian “Relations” of 1632 to 1673. Yale University. Proquest dissertations publishing.
Pompana, Y. (1997). Devolution to Indigenization: The final path to assimilation of First Nations. Master of Social Work, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MA.
Reading, C., Wien, F. (2013). Health inequalities and social determinants of Aboriginal peoples health. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. Retrieved from, http://www.nccah- ccnsa.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/46/ health_inequalities_EN_web.pdf
Tourand, K., Smith-Acott, A., Barnes, K., Burns, P., Corneau, E., Fraser, K., Gauvin, D., Hepburn, C., Poirier, W., Rosia, L., Small, B., Styles, L., & Wilson, K. (2014). Indigenous Education Protocol. Retrieved from: http://www.collegesinstitutes.ca/the-issues/indigenous-learners/ approaches-and-exemplary-practices-to-guide-implementation/
Trigger, B. G. (1987). Children of aataentsic: A history of the Huron People to 1660 (Vol. 195). McGill- Queen’s Press-MQUP.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Retrieved from http://nctr.ca/assets/reports/Final%20Reports/Executive_Summary_English_Web.pdf
United Nations. (2008). The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Retrieved from, http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
Yükselir, M. & Annett, E. (April 13, 2016). Where the kids are: How indigenous children are over-represented in foster care. Retrieved from https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/indigenous- kids-made-up-almost-half-of-canadian-foster-children-in-2011statscan/article29616843/? ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

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