Why is there a need to specifically support First Nations and Métis communities? Why not focus on supporting all schools in Alberta equally?
We support equity over equality. Equality means treating everyone the same, and therefore assumes that everyone needs the same thing, and is beginning from the same place. Equity means working to understand what people need based on the different historical and contemporary realities they experience, and providing relevant support guided by that understanding.
An example of this is a sprinting race around a track. Working from equality, everyone would start from the same line - on the surface, that seems fair. However, it ignores the fact that the outside lanes then have a longer distance to travel. It erases the inherent differences in experiences that the different runners will face, and automatically positions the outside runners at a disadvantage.
Instead, runners start from staggered lines, offsetting the natural imbalance created by the design of the track. This is an example of equity: acknowledging that there are multiple factors contributing to, or opposing, the success of a person or group, and changing the practice to reflect that.
Indigenous communities throughout Canada experience the lasting effects of colonization, with many oppressive structures, including Indian Residential Schools, enacted through the education system. This legacy includes a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, obesity, and other health issues, as well as clear negative effects on suicide rates, graduation rates, and overall quality of life.
Our work acknowledges that these realities create barriers to success for communities. We also recognize that the rich culture and knowledge that helps communities endure these hardships can form the pathway to equity in the school system, and wellness for all students.
Learn more about our work through the Projects tabs on the right.