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Indigenous Education Fact Sheet

February 8, 2021

Winnipeg School Division has implemented a wide variety of initiatives to support Indigenous education, Indigenous students and Indigenous staff, beginning with the establishment of a Indigenous education consulting teacher position in 1979.

WSD adopted an Indigenous Education Policy in 1996, which was revised in 2005.

Programming and Curriculum

  • Indigenous education initiatives are woven throughout nursery to Grade 12 curricula across all WSD schools. Some examples of these are:
    • Indigenous literature and author studies
    • Elders in the classroom
    • Arts programs that include Indigenous music, visual arts and dance
    • Indigenous games, athletes and role model studies in physical education
    • WSD Pow Wow
    • Traditional Indigenous structures and perspectives of sustainable development in science
    • Bilingual Language Programming in Cree and Ojibwe
  • WSD has developed many Indigenous education teaching units and materials to help teachers bring Indigenous perspectives into classrooms in all schools across WSD. Some examples of these include:

    • A Human Rights study on Indigenous Voices as part of the Grade 10 English Language Arts course
    • Units on Residential Schools (“From Apology to Reconciliation”) in Grades 9 and 11
    • Indigenous Studies and Cultural Studies in Grade 7and 8
    • Current Topics in First Nations, Metis and Inuit studies in Grade 12
    • An Indigenous language program in Grades 9 to 12.

  • Children of the Earth High School (Grade 9 to 12), established in 1991, and Niji Mahkwa School (nursery to Grade 8), established in 1993, offer academic courses, Indigenous language classes (Cree and Ojibwe) and cultural programming.

  • Every school in WSD is involved in the Indigenous Academic Achievement Initiative, which allows schools to support Indigenous students and encourages understanding of Indigenous culture by all students through the development of support documents, integration of Indigenous perspectives in the curricula, provision of opportunities for cultural activities and enhancement of the involvement of parents/guardians. Fifteen schools participate in Building Student Success with Indigenous Parents initiative, which promotes parent engagement activities that aim to improve student success at school.

  • WSD implemented the Treaty Education Initiative (TEI) in all elementary schools (Grade 6) beginning in 2011. The goal of this provincial program is to increase the knowledge and understanding of the treaties and the treaty relationship and their impact on the creation of Manitoba, while building bridges between all peoples.

Staff and support teams

  • WSD’s Indigenous education team consists of 16 positions: a director, a program lead, four support teachers, four Indigenous Graduation Coaches, five Literacy Intervention Support Teachers (LIST) and a full time Elder/Knowledge Keeper.

  • WSD employs 33 Community Support Workers for Indigenous students and families. The workers act as liaisons, strengthening each school’s connection with both the home and the community. They facilitate workshops for parents, maintain community rooms in schools and promote programs and activities that encourage and support these relationships.

  • Ongoing professional development in Indigenous education and the integration of Indigenous perspectives in all curriculum areas is offered to all WSD staff.

  • WSD employees, including substitutes, are asked to voluntarily participate in an employment equity self-declaration survey. As new employees are hired, they are also asked to participate in the survey. One of the goals of the Employment Equity Program is to have WSD workforce composition reflect the percentage of persons in designated groups residing within the boundaries of the WSD. The employment equity target of 15.1 per cent has been set for employment of Indigenous persons based on the 2011 Statistics Canada Indigenous Target Group Profile. The employment summary for 2016-17 indicates that the percentage of self-declared Indigenous employees was 12.2 per cent.

  • To increase the number of Indigenous teachers in WSD, the Community-Based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (CATEP) was created in collaboration with University of Winnipeg and Seven Oaks School Division during the 2005-06 school year. The program gives Indigenous employees in Winnipeg School Division the opportunity to study education at the University of Winnipeg over a six-year-period. From September to April, employees work in their respective schools while attending classes part time. From May to July, they are released from their school to attend university and student teach on a full-time basis. Fifteen teachers graduated from the first two classes of CATEP. Presently, the WSD has 29 staff enrolled in the program.

Student population

  • The 2011 census data indicate that 27 per cent of the families with school age children living within the boundaries of WSD are Indigenous.

  • In 2017-18, WSD’s voluntary declaration form was completed by 21,004 (64 percent) of the 32,611 WSD students (excludes Winnipeg Adult Education Centre). Of those who completed the form, 8,380 students declared as Indigenous. This represents 25.7 percent of the total student  population and 46.7 percent of those who completed the form.

  • In 2017-18, 5.5 percent of students in WSD spoke an Indigenous language at home with Anishinaabe and Cree being the two most common. Anishinaabe, which includes Ojibwe, Ojibwe/Saulteux, and Saulteux, was spoken at home by 938 students. Cree, which includes Ininiw and Oji-Cree, was spoken at home by 789 students. Students could declare up to two languages.

    updated September 2018

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