Queen's University

Act now to attract Aboriginal students to college and university

Roberta Jamieson (left), President and CEO, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, speaks with Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis during the Queen's Conference on Indigenous Issues in Post-Secondary Education.

Over 150 educators and Aboriginal leaders from across Canada have identified best practices in attracting and retaining more Aboriginal students and considered how these practices can be more broadly applied across institutions.

“We can’t sit by and let another generation of Aboriginal students be disadvantaged by barriers. After hearing at the conference from people who work on the frontlines, we hope their inspiring messages will motivate education leaders to take action on the issues,” says Bob Watts, co-chair of the recent Queen’s Conference on Indigenous Issues in Post-Secondary Education and a fellow in the Queen’s School of Policy Studies (SPS).

Resources identified for supporting Aboriginal students in post-secondary education include:
• a safe, secure and welcoming campus to help Aboriginal students better transition
• incorporating Aboriginal ways of knowing into the curriculum and hiring more Aboriginal faculty and staff, and
• post-secondary institutions to build trusting relationships with Aboriginal communities.

“Although Aboriginal students may need a lot of additional academic support to transition to university or college, the payoff is enormous for the individual, the community and Canada,” says conference co-chair Don Drummond, Fellow in Global Public Policy, SPS. “Successful transition is resource intensive and support initiatives will need investments of time and money.”

Higher levels of education attainment raise income levels for individuals and have a co-relation with better health conditions. According to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, the country’s cumulative GDP would be raised $401-billion over a 25-year period if Aboriginal education and labour market outcomes matched the non-Aboriginal population.

This year’s conference is the third in a series of annual conferences offered by SPS on Aboriginal peoples and public policy. SPS has also developed the Indigenous Policy and Governance Initiative in partnership with First Nations Technical Institute. The initiative is delivered through the part-time Professional Master of Public Administration program and engages two Aboriginal teachers – Mr. Watts and Dr. Paula du Hamel Yellow Horn.

“The rich discussion at this conference suggested many ways we can better recruit, attract, support and retain Aboriginal students at Queen’s. The conference and the subsequent report will serve as a resource as we develop new initiatives and build on existing strategies including the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program and the Aboriginal Access to Engineering Initiative,” says Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Caroline Davis, co-chair of the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University.

A report on findings and recommendations from the conference will be issued in a few weeks.

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Last updated at 3:43 pm EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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