Indigenous teachers, leaders under-represented in Winnipeg schools, on school boards, report says

Winnipeg needs more Indigenous teachers and leaders in its schools, on school boards and in education faculties to reflect student bodies and support Indigenous learners, a new report says.

Less than nine per cent of teachers in Winnipeg’s six school divisions self-identified as Indigenous in provincial surveys in 2013-14, says the State of Equity in Education Report, released Tuesday by the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle.

That’s compared to nearly 17 per cent of students in the same period, the report says.

“In order to improve academic outcomes for Indigenous students, they need to see themselves better reflected in the curriculum and teaching staff working in their schools,” the report says.

Out of the city’s six school divisions, the report identified only one — the Winnipeg School Division — that had Indigenous school trustees.

Only three school divisions responded to report authors’ request for self-identification information: Louis Riel, River East Transcona and Winnipeg.

The city’s other three school divisions — Pembina Trails, Seven Oaks and St. James-Assiniboia — did not respond, so the report authors did a biographical review of trustees.

“In order to expand the needed supply of Indigenous teacher graduates, partnerships will need to be mobilized with the federal and provincial governments, faculties of education, school divisions and Indigenous organizations to develop a broader range of teacher education program strategies and initiatives,” the report says.

The Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle wants the provincial and federal governments, as well as Winnipeg school divisions and Manitoba universities and colleges, to implement 10 calls to action to improve representation and student outcomes.

The calls to action range from creating a proportional number of designated seats on governance structures like school boards for Indigenous members to establishing a “more Indigenous teachers initiative” to be run by education groups and Indigenous leaders.

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