Evidence of meeting #15 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was students.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Éric Cardinal  As an Individual
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Evelyn Lukyniuk
Robert Watt  President, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq
Ellen Gabriel  As an Individual
Elijah Williams  Director, Indigenous Engagement, Centre for Indigenous Learning and Support, Sheridan College

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marcus Powlowski Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Have some non-Inuit people taken part in that as well?

6:55 p.m.

President, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq

Robert Watt

Yes, students have. We have an average of 60 to 80 non-Inuit in our communities. I'm just talking about Kuujjuaq here. There are 14 communities altogether.

We are very open. We have an open-hand policy where we engage and ensure that our students are participating, whether they are Inuit or non-Inuit.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marcus Powlowski Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

When certainly racism is very much in the limelight now, how do you address racism?

When you look at what you teach formally in school versus what doesn't occur in school, do you find that bringing non-Inuit people onto the land gives them an added appreciation for indigenous ways of doing things, for the indigenous outlook?

6:55 p.m.

President, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq

Robert Watt

Once you're out on the land you quickly forget about racism. You are so immersed in being on the land that you forget about that, so the best medicine is being on the land.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marcus Powlowski Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

I think that's a fantastic answer.

Maybe I could ask Mr. Williams that too. When it comes to addressing racism, how much can you do that in the classroom?

6:55 p.m.

Director, Indigenous Engagement, Centre for Indigenous Learning and Support, Sheridan College

Elijah Williams

I think it goes beyond the classroom. I think it goes to how we teach people and what we're teaching them.

When we look at the Auditor General's “Report 5—Socio-economic Gaps on First Nations Reserves", we see that the graduation rate in 2016 was only 24% of students. That's what the Auditor General identified.

We really have to examine whether we are teaching the right content to students, whether the students see themselves and whether there is something that the policy has failed to do, because as you said, education generally gets people out of poverty, but if only 24% of our people are graduating, that's a big problem. This is something that the department should really be focusing on in terms of economic prosperity, when it comes to economic development and opportunity.

When you look at that report, it highlights a discrepancy there as well.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

We're at the time for the meeting, Mr. Powlowski.

Thank you for that very interesting perspective.

I want to thank our witnesses very much. This has been very fascinating for all of us. We're learning a lot, but we have much more to learn.

Thank you, once again.

I'm just going to ask the clerk if she might indulge me.

If I adjourn the meeting, could I leave the line open for one minute to ask a question of two of our...? Is that permitted under the rules? Can we adjourn the meeting now, but leave the line open for 30 seconds? Okay, I saw a positive nod.

This meeting is now adjourned.