Colonialism in Canadian Schools (RELS 348)

Chelsea Vowel’s article, “Colonialism in the First Nations Education Act,” The Huffington Post, 9 October, 2013, summarizes the problems with the educational system in Canada and specifically how it is failing the first nations peoples.

The reason this is a problem is as the article mentions, there is no aboriginal system of education in Canada. This would not be an issue if the Canadian school system wasn’t currently failing the indigenous peoples. The fault that the article puts blame on is that of the attitudes of which marginalise the indigenous peoples assuming they are incapable of self education.

The article lists the statistics comparing aboriginal with non aboriginal students in regards to success in school, such as the gap between 40 percent of Aboriginal students who do not have a high school diploma compared to the 13 percent of non-non Aboriginal students who do. The statistics show the flaws in funding too. Because aboriginal funding is only federal, non-status Indians and Metis students are funded provincially, they do not receive the same benefits as other aboriginal students. The article moves on to criticize the federal government for its failure to create and education act alongside the First Nations, but rather has created something that is not helpful to anyone.

The article concludes with the recommendation that the best way  to move forward is for the federal government to stop enforcing policy without adequate knowledge, but rather work together with the First Nations to find an act that will succeed.

This article shines a light on the remaining colonial power that clearly still exists today in Canada. The First Nations group, a group that identifies as other than Canadian, is not only being forced into an education system that they have little say in, but one that is leaving them further discriminated and disadvantaged by. I agree with the points the article makes stating that by not working effectively with the First Nations, any education act the Federal government makes is bound to fail. Sadly, this struggle to work together is not a new one. In Russel Diabo’s artical, “Harper Launches major First Nations termination plan: As negotiating tables legitimize Canada’s colonialism,” 9 November, 2012 ( shows how the federal government has a history of struggling to work with the First Nations but rather advocates that they should govern the First Nations themselves.

If we want to move forward to equality I think it is important that the government learn how to work with First Nations leaders rather than against. It is time for an education act that does not discriminate the very people it is designed for.

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