Turning Points in the History of Indigenous Education Policy

By: Helen Raptis  

On January 23rd 2018, Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada, Jean-François Tremblay, indicated that the goal of his department was its eventual elimination, through the devolution of control of social services to Indigenous peoples themselves. This move toward devolution/local control appears to constitute a new policy direction in the history of Indigenous social service provision in Canada. Or does it? The purpose of this paper is to review the key turning points in Canada’s Indigenous education policies. I argue that devolution/local control over Indigenous education is not new. Indeed, the Canadian government promised to devolve control over education in 1973 after the National Indian Brotherhood presented the Canadian government with its 1972 policy paper “Indian Control of Indian Education.” Nevertheless, we know very little about policy changes during this era because the majority of historical research on Indigenous education has focused on residential schooling. I conclude with a suggested research agenda to enable greater links between educational history and Indigenous education policy studies.

Indigenous Education, History, Policy, Residential Schools
Community Diversity and Governance
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Helen Raptis

Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, University of Victoria, Canada
British Columbia, Canada

Helen Raptis is an associate professor of educational history at the University of Victoria. Her interests are in historical and contemporary perspectives on sociologicial issues facing our schools today. She has researched in the areas of Indigenous education; at-risk, high-poverty learners; children for whom English is a second language and rural teachers. She co-authored What We Learned: Two Generations Reflect on Indigenous Education with members of the Tsimshian Nation in British Columbia, Canada (UBC Press, 2016).