Universities Canada principles on Indigenous education
Universities Canada represents 97 universities across Canada, which educate more than a million students each year. Indigenous students continue to be underrepresented in Canadian higher education institutions and our universities are committed to do their part to close this education gap, recognizing the urgency of this issue for the country. Closing the gap will strengthen Indigenous communities, allow Indigenous peoples to continue to strive for self-realization, enhance the informed citizenship of Canadians, and contribute to Canada’s long-term economic success and social inclusion.
There are many reasons to close the education gap. A university education is a transformative experience, expanding knowledge, nurturing critical thinking and inspiring new ideas, creativity and innovation. Closing the education gap will benefit not only Indigenous graduates, but their communities and Canada as a whole.
Beyond these social and cultural imperatives, there is also a clear benefit to Canada’s economy. Canada needs more university graduates to meet labour market demands. Indigenous people can help meet this demand. They are a fast-growing segment of the Canadian population, yet only 9.8 percent of Indigenous people in Canada have a university degree, compared to 28 percent of non-Aboriginals. Canada’s universities recognize that tremendous opportunities exist – for Indigenous people and for the country – if we increase access to university education for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. With a university degree, Indigenous people in Canada can earn 60 percent more than their peers with a high school diploma. They experience longer and greater participation in the workforce.
As it continues to advocate for more funding to Indigenous students, Universities Canada and its members are committed to ongoing communication and collaboration with Indigenous communities. Higher education offers great potential for reconciliation and a renewed relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Universities benefit from the presence of Indigenous students and their cultures, making our campuses more open places with wider sources of discovery and knowledge. Mutual respect for different ways of knowing and recognizing the intellectual contributions of Indigenous people is essential to building trust, understanding, and sharing. The cohabitation of Western science and Indigenous knowledge on campuses has the power of opening a dialogue among cultures and enhancing our shared knowledge. Read More…