Jennifer Henry TVO
Jennifer Henry (third from left) with (left to right) Steve Paikin (host of TVO’s The Agenda), Ryan
DeCaire and David Newhouse

Jennifer Henry, Post-Secondary Representative with the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario recently discussed the future of Aboriginal education and its underlying issues with TVO’s The Agenda host Steve Paikin at Trent University in early March.

As part of The Agenda’s Learning 2030 series, Henry represented Métis students in a meet-up panel discussion. Additional panel members included Ryan DeCaire of Wáhta Mohawk Territory and David Newhouse, Chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent University.

During the one-hour session, Henry discussed the need for Métis history to be further incorporated into the Ontario public school system.

“People tend to make First Nations a synonym for all Aboriginal peoples and this is a prominent issue in the current public school system,” stated Henry. “Indigenous teachings are dominated by First Nations history and Métis and Inuit people tend to be forgotten. Learning about the First Nations is very important, but I believe there needs to be more focus on Métis and Inuit people as well.”

Another underlying issue that Henry expressed regarded the importance of educating the educators about indigenous culture and history.

“It is very important that teachers are educated in what they are teaching,” said Henry. “Currently, a one-day indigenous studies training course is provided to teachers and that is not enough. They should be taught about Canada’s indigenous history and culture at a university level.”

Henry does agree that there is a conscious effort by the public school system to promote indigenous culture. “The ball is rolling, we just need to push it further,” she explained.

A suggestion made by Henry, which all panel members agreed with, regarded the lack of contemporary indigenous life in the Ontario public school system. “We are only talked about as people of the past; we are not just history. Contemporary indigenous culture needs to be incorporated into all subjects,” she stated.

Growing up as a source of information to her peers, Henry believes it is important for indigenous students to remain part of the public school system but the underlying issues in regards to the future of Aboriginal education need to be addressed.

Click here to watch video clips or listen to the audio podcast of the panel discussion.