Jim Hart’s Reconciliation Pole at the UBC campus. (Archie Stocker Sr./Contributed)

Lack of funding, culture on campus biggest barriers for Indigenous students: report

Report based on nearly 300 responses found lack of support at post-secondary schools a big concern

Need for extra financial support tops the list for the largest barriers faced by Indigenous students as they make their way through post-secondary school in Canada, a nationwide report suggests.

The report, released Thursday by Indspire, a charity that focuses on Indigenous education, surveyed 300 students across the country attending universities, colleges and trades programs, including 35 attending schools in B.C.

It found students were also concerned about a lack of Indigenous student services on campus, Indigenous content in programs such as social work, nursing and law, and more Indigenous professors and mentors. Students said gaps in a support system on campus led to incidents of racism and resentment from peers.

“The least safe place for our students is in the classroom,” said Indspire president Roberta Jamieson. “That’s what they told us.”

The report compared its findings with what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called for in its final report in 2015, which included seven recommendations focused on education for Indigenous children and youth.

Some of those calls to action included developing culturally appropriate curricula, ending the backlog of First Nations students seeking post-secondary education, and funding to close educational achievement gaps within one generation.

Jamieson said the survey results show governments and post-secondary schools “have not fully responded” to the commission’s recommendations.

In B.C., 50 per cent of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 had a certificate, diploma or degree from a trade school, college or university in 2011, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. That’s compared to 66 per cent of their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

Indspire’s report made three key recommendations: more funding for staffing for Indigenous student services at colleges and universities, a full evaluation of the commission’s calls to action, and strengthening Indigenous culture and belonging on campus and beyond.

Cultural awareness on campus

Many students felt post-secondary settings have not taken the time to incorporate Indigenous students, their history and their culture, the report said.

Student reported feelings of isolation, loneliness and being overwhelmed. Some said it caused a sense of marginalization on campus.

“There aren’t always safe spaces within the university, other than Indigenous Student Centres, that are welcoming to Indigenous students,” one student said. “Racism and violence still very much exist so it is sometimes hard to move throughout the university and not experience those things, from professors, other students, administration.”

Another student reported their peers resented them for getting special treatment and “as a result, the Indigenous students were not as welcome.”

Others said inaccurate reflections of their culture often forced them to address the misinformation.

“In 2018, we do not need non-Indigenous peoples speaking about us. Make space, move over,” one student response read.

“In my field of study, it was very hard to describe how not only are we still here, but everything we do in our programs is through a Western lens. That there are Indigenous ways of reaching decisions, creation of policy, etc. It never gets recognized in my program.”

In the classroom, students noted “outdated” Western views “dominated” their course content, the report found.

The same was said about professors who lacked a knowledge of history of Indigenous people in Canada.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ucluelet releases COVID-19 Recovery Plan

Part of the recovery plan involves deploying three district staff as COVID-19 Community Monitors

Tofino mayor urges “kindness” as tourism reopens

“Health and safety matters to everyone.”

Resorts in Tofino and Ucluelet prepare to reopen in June

“We need to get the tourist economy in our communities back up and running.”

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve plans limited reopening on June 4

The Park Reserve shut down on March 18 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pacific Rim Hospice Society gifting free wellness “check-ins” to all West Coast residents

“This pandemic has led to a lot of isolation and it’s helpful for anybody just to have a soundboard.”

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Telegraph Cove Resort will open June 1 to self-contained campers only

Washrooms, showers and all other amenities will remain closed for now

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Most Read