Conditions for Success: Indigenous Youth Reflections on Their Experiences with Canadian Education Systems
Keywords:Indigenous, Youth, Education, Systematic Racism, Call to action
This paper brings forward the reflections of 30 Indigenous youth from across Canada and their first voice perspectives with Canadian education systems. A central component of the project was to obtain youths’ understandings of education in Canada and to seek their recommendations on ways to improve education for Indigenous youth. Accessing Indigenous youths’ experiences is important as their capacities to have successful and equitable educational experiences are strongly hindered by colonial settler policy and systemic institutional racism. Indigenous scholars have appealed for changes to education systems with a focus on challenging colonial relations of power and the multiple oppressions Indigenous youth experience when educated under Eurocentric practices. Our methodological framework is located within a relational paradigm as a mechanism to ignite dialogue and prioritize Indigenous voices in education. Our building of relations began with a sharing circle held at our Mount Saint Vincent University’s Wigwaum. Our Indigenous colleague and co-author, Jonathon MeDrano, explains how sharing circles provide equitable opportunities for people to share their ideas and respective worldviews. We then facilitated reflective journaling workshops with the youth. The young people’s reflections in this paper identify the compelling need to address systemic racism, stereotypes, and to challenge normative and colonizing structures that generate discrimination. Moreover, the young people soundly indicated that education systems in Canada require much larger integrations of Indigenous ways of knowing and being in all aspects of delivery (i.e. language, culture, Indigenous teachings), including more Indigenous counsellors to support their mental well-being.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Sarah Reddington, Shane Theunissen, Jonathon MeDrano
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