Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 168

168 Arctic Yearbook 2014 Indians could acquire all the rights and privileges of citizenship when “they could read and write either English or French, be free of debt and be of ‘good moral character’” (Kulchyski, 2007: 55). Learning to read and write and gain a Euro-Canadian education has long been tied to assimilationist policies of the Canadian state and the history of residential schools is a prime example of this. Aboriginal children were removed from their families and placed in residential schools, often far from their home communities (Wilson & Battiste, 2011: 13). The abuses that often took place in these institutions have been well documented (Milloy, 1999). Today in the north, the residential school period is still within living memory for communities and families. While education is often seen as a way out of poverty and into a better life, education is still connected to the negative experiences of older relations. Education is also “viewed as something that draws students away from who they are” (Tierney, 1993: 311). Not only have northern students had to travel out of the north for a post-secondary education, it has also taken them away from their cultural knowledge. For many Aboriginal learners in the north, the legacy of colonization and oppression has led to internalized beliefs of inadequacy that often inhibit motivation (Hart, 2010; Laenuie, 2000; MacKinnon, 2012). Many models and approaches to Aboriginal education have attempted to address the fact that often Aboriginal students arrive into post-secondary programs at a disadvantage, having faced many barriers. Some of the barriers faced by Aboriginal students today are: inadequate educational preparation, language, cultural difference, lack of role models, funding, intergenerational family and social problems and geographic location (Anonson, Desjarlais, Nixon, Whiteman, & Bird, 2008; Malatest & Associates, 2004; Martin & Kipling, 2006; Mendelson, 2006; Sloane-Seale, Wallace, & Levin, 2001). Wilson and Battiste (2011) describe various student support models from the late 1960s onwards that attempt to address the particular needs of the Aboriginal learner. As the number of Aboriginal students began to rise in post-secondary programs in the 1970s, universities and colleges started to add Aboriginal content and programming (15). The Access programs initiated in Manitoba in the early 1980s were designed to “admit into post-secondary studies those Manitobans facing specific participation barriers so significant that without the program, they would have little or no chance of success” (Hikel, 1994 cited in Clare, 2013: 62). Today northern Manitobans have more accessible opportunities to participate in post-secondary education such as the University College of the North (UCN), the University of Manitoba-Northern Social Work Program (UM NSWP) and Inter-University Services.1 The UM NSWP offers full and part time post-secondary education through different options that include traditional education, ACCESS Program (Alcorn & Levin, 1998; Clare, 2013) and cohort modalities. These three options provide the opportunity to attain a university degree for adults who have had social, economic and cultural barriers as well as a lack of formal education. These options enable students to take classes in or near their home communities and to integrate work experience activities. Similarly, UCN offers classroom and distance delivery post-secondary education in a variety of degrees. In both universities the student support model encompasses activities such as the active recruitment of Aboriginal faculty and staff, northern course content, childcare, Elders in residence, peer mentoring Simpkins & Bonnycastle