BC 100: Indigenous Education Alumni Speaker Panel

IE Panel

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report and Calls to Action. The purpose of this event, featuring 3 of our outstanding Education’s 100 Alumni, was to share insights, create dialogue, and develop individual and cooperative actions to accelerate the success of Indigenous education, with an emphasis on the past, present, and future role of the UBC Faculty of Education.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Cheryl Sebastian was not able to attend, the other panelists shared the following:

Dr. Celia Haig-Brown:

IMG_1836Dr. Haig-Brown spoke to the role of Non-Indigenous Allies. In her presentation, she discussed three main points that she focused on in the response to the TRC calls to action for education: problems with allies, structural changes, and Indigenous knowledges into the academy.  Referencing Kirkness and Barnhardt and the “Four R’s,” Dr. Haig-Brown discussed four stages in addressing the problems with allies:
Raise Awareness (Relevance)
Create Space (Responsibility)
Get Out of the Way (Reciprocity)
Be Available (Respect)

Dr. Haig-Brown also discussed the concept of structural changes — speaking towards equatable funding, funding for schools, and ensuring student success. Lastly, Celia discussed problems of appropriation; she pitched a question of how to create Indigenous knowledge as a scholarly recognized resource in today’s westernized schooling system. At the end of Dr. Haig-Brown’s presentation she stated “let us finish this overdue work.”

Deborah Jeffrey:

Deborah Jeffrey spoke to the role of FNESC & First Nation Schools. In Deborah’s presentation she discussed some of the issues that are being seen in Aboriginal Education today arguing, “It’s not quality education when you’re an Aboriginal student.” Deborah also pointed out that, “IMG_18393/4 of our Aboriginal children cannot do math in Grade 7; It’s not the fault of our kids, it’s the fault of the system.”

Deborah explained that only 1 in 6 status-on-reserve students get a certificate after graduation equivalent to a Dogwood Diploma, there has been an alarming increase of Aboriginal students being encouraged to leave the school system with an Evergreen Certificate instead. Deborah highlighted the change that needs to be addressed before Aboriginal people can succeed in the education system.

Year 2 NITEP Student, Trystan Dunn-Jones, states:

Observing this event and listening to the two panelist that spoke, as a 2nd year NITEP student inspired me and sparked a deeper interest in the subject being discussed. I really enjoyed attending this event and I feel privileged to have sat in and learned so much. Seeing and hearing both Dr. Haig-Brown and Jeffrey’s stories and information kind of demonstrated to me that anything is possible and has sparked an even bigger interest in Aboriginal Education for me.