Woman from Elizabeth Metis Settlement presents to Senate

A Metis woman with family ties to Elizabeth Metis Settlement spoke to the Senate last week on ways to improve outcomes for Indigenous students. 

Katherine Merrell-Anderson spent her high school years and following in the Cold Lake area as her family is from Elizabeth Metis Settlement. 

These years later, she works at Braided Journeys as a transition coordinator in Edmonton, which helps support Indigenous students with cultural, academic, and leadership opportunities. It also provides them help on jumping into junior high and high school. 

Currently, the Standing Senate Committee on Indigenous People is listening to youth leaders from across the country about their experiences in the education system and how to make improvements. 

“It was actually a national-wide application and it was sent to me by one of my co-workers, she actually did similarly a few years previous,” Merrell-Anderson told Lakeland Connect. 

“I sent an application and I didn’t actually expect to be selected. I just wanted to make sure that the voices of as many people as possible were being shared with the committee and they picked one of my applications as one of the eight people.” 

On Wednesday, June 7, she presented to this committee, speaking of an experience of otherness and having an imposter syndrome while going through school. In part, because of her classmates’ understanding of who she was. 

She says that one way to help improve outcomes for Indigenous students is by integrating culture into concepts and in the classroom. 

“One of the really important statistics that I kind of brought along was that in Alberta, non-Indigenous students have a 83 per cent graduation rate on time, so they’ll go Grade 10, 11,  12, and at the end of Grade 12, 83 per cent of them will complete it. 

“Indigenous students have a 60 per cent rate at the same three year mark. And in our program, it’s 67 per cent. 

“The non Catholic District in Edmonton only sees a 47 per cent graduation rate. And they only maybe a year ago began implementing a similar program. With our program, we build that sense of cultural identity.” 

As part of the Truth & Reconciliation’s calls for action, number 62 recommends Canada indigenize public school curriculums to educate students on the culture of indigenous peoples, and the history of residential schools.

Looking for ways to incorporate indigenous knowledge in education are highlighted to provide different methods of teaching concepts to children.

“I hope to see a lot more positive representation for our people, and also our non-Indigenous peers and allies. If we aren’t able to get that curriculum and push for it to be taught, for there to be maybe even more of a media push to understand why they should go and learn some of these things on their own.

“I hope to see more of that more inclusion, more supports, and just understanding for what has gone on for our people.”

To view her presentation, you can follow this link.

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