Aboriginal Teacher Education in British Columbia: Accomplishments, Plans & Prospects
Aboriginal Teacher Education in British Columbia: Accomplshments, Plans and Prospects
Current work: (posted May 2017)
- As of June 2017, the ABCDE Aboriginal Teacher Education Working Group is set to resume its work. The present configuration of Working Group committee members, as in years previous, will represent FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee), IAHLA (Indigenous Adult Higher Education Association), together with representatives of individual Faculties of Education, the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, and ABCDE.
- The above Working Group members meet several times during an academic year at SFU Vancouver or UBC Vancouver. Meeting organization is done by FNESC and ABCDE in consultation with members of the Working Group. ABCDE and FNESC share meeting expenses and take turns chairing.
- Meetings begin by acknowledging the ancestral, traditional, unceded lands upon which we meet.
- At Working Group meetings, reports are received by individual committee members including from those who attend meetings of the K-12 and/or Post Secondary Aboriginal Education Partners Group.
- The Working Group decides and advises ABCDE on Action Plan items and the next steps for increasing the number of Aboriginal teachers in B.C. as well as enhancing teachers’ understandings of and commitment to Aboriginal histories, learning styles, and values. Work with local elders and community members is a high priority and is carried out whenever feasible.
- In June 2015, the Working Group launched a questionnaire to collect quantitative and qualitative data, and distributed the questionnaire to the nine teacher education programs in B.C. The purpose of the questionnaire was to collect baseline data about the number of teacher education students across B.C who have Aboriginal/Indigenous ancestry, the procedures for advising and admitting students and prospective Education students, the financial and group supports available in each location for Aboriginal students, the hiring of Aboriginal Faculty and Staff members, and the quality and content of Aboriginal information within programs and courses for teaching and school administration.
- All the responses were coordinated, recorded, integrated, acknowledged, and shared with the B.C. Faculties of Education. An Action Plan was developed by the Working Group and was discussed with, and adopted by, the Deans of Education in November 2015.
- From the Action Plan, the Deans decided to focus on items of research which would explore various aspects of Faculties’ policies and practices with respect to attracting and preparing Aboriginal students for the teaching profession. Decisions remain about how such research might be carried out and who would take the lead in coordinating and guiding it. Funding will be required for the hiring of part-time staff;
- The Deans also decided to support a Symposium on Aboriginal Education to be held the day before the annual 2017 Teacher Education Roundtable Conference at UBC Vancouver. The Symposium would focus on the Recruitment and Retention of Aboriginal students for the teaching profession;
- Funding for such research was sought from the BC Government, and from the Government in collaboration with the BC Faculties of Education (and subsets of the BC Faculties of Education). At the February 2017 meeting of ABCDE, the Deans decided to provide seed money for research of this kind.
Previous work of the ABCDE-FNESC-IAHLA Working Group:
- The Working Group, comprising representatives of our three organizations, was formed and has met since release of the final report of the Task Force on Aboriginal Teacher Education presented to ABCDE in Fall, 2006. The report was proposed for the period 2006-2011, and from the time of its completion and distribution, the Report’s recommendations provided high standards for our BC teacher education programs and their staff members to observe and meet. The Task Force was co-chaired by Dr. Jo-ann Archibald, UBC’s Associate Dean (Indigenous Education), and by Dr. Lorna Williams, UVic Education Senior Faculty Member.
- Composition of the Working Group has changed several times over the years; members representing their organizations have contributed well to the conversations, the assemblage of facts, and to decisions taken. Many ABCDE planning meetings have been convened on various topics under the rubric “Aboriginal Education” between 2004 and the present day.
- Since 2008, ABCDE has appointed a Dean, an Associate Dean, or a Senior faculty member, to serve as an ABCDE representative on the province’s K-12 Aboriginal Education Partners’ Group, and at the Post-Secondary Education Partners’ table. ABCDE representatives have been essential links between these organizations and the Deans of Education.
Post-TRC (Truth and Reconciliation) Commission Report:
- The nine BC Faculties/Schools of Education, and their university homes, acknowledge and accept the 94 Calls for Action of the final National TRC report made public in May 2015. Individual institutions continue to express their support for the TRC and for the reconciliation programs and activities that are essential for years to come.
ABCDE Annual Awards, 2005 to the present:
- Each year, ABCDE honours two individuals who have distinguished themselves as outstanding Teacher Educators or as outstanding Education Advocates. Since the inception of ABCDE’s awards program in 2005, five B.C. educators of Aboriginal background have been so honoured: Dede DeRose, Kau’i Keliipio, Chief Edward John, Edna Terbasket, and Dr. Jo-ann Archibald. In May 2017, Dr. Archibald of UBC Vancouver received an award from ABCDE for her Lifelong Service to Education. (ABCDE Awards webpage: http://www.educ.sfu.ca/abcde/awards.html
ABCDE Teacher Education Roundtable conferences:
- Each year at Teacher Education Roundtable conferences, attention is given to updates about Aboriginal teacher education in the nine BC Faculties of Education. Several host university programs have selected “Aboriginal Education” as the theme of their Roundtable conferences, or they have given serious attention to the province’s Aboriginal Education in various ways at the conferences. Between 60 and 70 Faculty members, Deans, staff members, and representatives of BC Education partner groups attend the annual educational and information-sharing gatherings. One day prior to the 2017 Roundtable Conference, an Aboriginal Education Symposium was held, organized by the Working Group (ABCDE-FNESC-IAHLA). The theme for the day was the Recruitment and Retention of Aboriginal Students to Teacher Education. Close to 70 persons registered and attended the event, primarily organized by UBC Vancouver.
Progress in Aboriginal Education in BC Faculties of Education and in BC:
- In the weeks and months ahead, we will keep readers apprised, via this website, of new developments and progress in BC Aboriginal Teacher Education.