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Source: University of Waterloo

St. Paul's United College holds conference on Aboriginal education in the 21st Century

October 18, 2006

(Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006) -- A major conference on the future of Aboriginal
education, featuring Ontario's lieutenant-governor, the Honourable James K.
Bartleman -- first member of a First Nation to hold a vice-regal office in
Ontario -- will be held at St. Paul's United College on the University of
Waterloo campus Oct. 28.

The conference, which seeks to advance collaboration with Aboriginal Peoples
on education, is entitled Aboriginal Education in the 21st Century:
Partnering with Integrity. It offers participants an opportunity to meet
First Nations' leaders and learn about their vision for an educated

"This conference will develop greater awareness on the need for supporting
Aboriginal leaders in their efforts to educate their people, especially for
those far from major centres of education," said Graham Brown, principal of
St. Paul's, which is affiliated with UW.

"It will provide an opportunity for a broad range of people, including
youth, to engage and partner with Aboriginal people in new ways on

Aboriginal Peoples -- Indians, Metis and Inuit -- represent 3.3 per cent of
the total population, up from 2.8 per cent in 1996, according to Canada's
2001 census numbers. And the median age of the Aboriginal population is 24.7
years, considerably younger than the national average of 37.6 years.

Between 1996 and 2001, census years with comparable data, the share of
Aboriginal people with post-secondary qualifications increased to 38 per
cent from 33 per cent. About eight per cent were university graduates, up
from six per cent five years earlier.

Brown said, however, that in the 20- to 24-year-old group, 43 per cent of
Aboriginal people reported in 2001 having less than high school education.
By comparison, among all Canadians 20 to 24 years of age, about 15 per cent
reported in 2001 having less than high school education.

At the UW conference, Brown predicts that for some participants the event
"may be the beginning of an ongoing relationship of learning, understanding
and support," while for others it will be "enlightening, encouraging and

Participants will hear from top Aboriginal leaders who are heading the
movement to make literacy and education a basic achievement of all
Aboriginal young people:

  • Bartleman will discuss the four key initiatives that comprise the
    lieutenant-governor's Aboriginal Literacy Program.

  • Grand Chief Stan Beardy, of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, will help
    participants understand how education is critical for his people's welfare.

  • The Rev. Dr. Stan McKay, former United Church moderator, will discuss the
    role of right relationships in partnering effectively with Aboriginal
    peoples to achieve their wish of an educated community.

  • Vince Dumond, principal of J.R. Nakogee elementary school on Attawapiskat
    First Nation, will discuss education on the reserve.

    Originally home to UW's Canadian Studies program, St. Paul's has supported
    Aboriginal services at UW since 2003 and continues to offer courses in
    native studies.

    As well, the college is home to Firekeepers, a high school enrichment
    program for Aboriginal youth. It is also involved in the
    lieutenant-governor's Aboriginal Literacy Program for children in the
    northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat.

    The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and includes lunch.
    Participants are asked to pre-register by calling Arlene Sleno at
    519-885-1465 ext. 201 or email asleno at Registration fees are
    $7 for university students or $10 for others. High school students are
    admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.

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