The province is increasing funds directed at indigenous students by more than $1 million and releasing data about their achievement, Education Minister James Allum announced on Wednesday.
- Manitoba boosting public school funding by $32.5M
- Province gives Winnipeg School Division 6 more months to meet scathing report recommendations
"Many indigenous students in our public schools are not experiencing the success that they deserve," Allum said in a provincial news release.
"We want every student in Manitoba to have the opportunity to excel, and we are committed to working with teachers, parents, schools and First Nations partners to see this happen."
Manitoba has a new website that will make data on academic achievement, broken down by gender and self-identified indigenous pupils, available for the first time, said the release.
"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report makes clear that there is an achievement gap for indigenous students across Canada, and in Manitoba, we're committed to making targeted investments and doing our part to close this gap," said Allum.
Along with open data, Manitoba will boost funds specifically targeted to indigenous students in the province, including:
- $500,000 in new funding to provide transition supports for students leaving First Nations schools to attend public schools;
- $500,000 to help indigenous students with literacy, math and culturally appropriate learning through the Aboriginal Academic Achievement grant; and
- more money for the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, a group that seeks to improve elementary and secondary school education outcomes for indigenous Canadians, bringing funding for the organization to $375,000.
"Raising the academic results of our most disadvantaged students is good for our entire province, as it will raise the results of all," said James Wilson, Treaty Relations Commission Manitoba commissioner, in the provincial release.
"Only by increasing measurement can we hope to increase outcomes, which is why the TRCM supports this mainstream education effort as a means to self-reliance first recognized in the numbered treaties," he said.
The Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg's president, Damon Johnston, spoke to students at R.B. Russell Vocational School about the meaning of Wednesday's announcement.
Johnston, who is a member of Ontario's Fort William First Nation, went to high school in Manitoba in the 1960s.
"I can tell you … I don't think I ever [saw] indigenous art on the wall," he said, standing beside aboriginal artwork hanging on the school's wall.
"This is a real example of the change that is occuring."
Johnston applauded the government for the new First Nations, Métis and Inuit education policy framework.
"It's an approach that recognizes and embeds a joint working relationship with our leaders to identify and implement the educational system changes that are needed to steadily improve the learning environment," he said, noting the changes are positive for all Canadians.
"Indigenous thought and practice can be beneficial," he said.