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Aboriginal Education

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At HWDSB, we are honoured to work with our community partners to meet the needs of our Aboriginal students. We strive to weave Aboriginal perspectives into curriculum for all students, as well as support the achievement of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students.

Please see below for more information on Aboriginal Self-Identification, Native Language Studies, the Aboriginal Stay in School Initiative (NYA:WEH) and the partnership with the Indian Friendship Centre to deliver Strengthening Hamilton’s Aboriginal Education (SHAE).

Stay in School and Graduation Initiatives

HWDSB’s Equity Department supports the various Aboriginal educational initiatives, including:

The Aboriginal Stay in School Initiative (NYA:WEH)

Funded through community grants, NYA:WEH features aboriginal youth workers working at Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School to support aboriginal students.

Strengthening Hamilton’s Aboriginal Education (SHAE)

SHAE is a partnership program between HWDSB and the Indian Friendship Centre in which aboriginal students can complete their secondary school diploma through Independent Learning Centre Courses. HWDSB teachers work out of classrooms at the Friendship Centre to support these students.

Native as a Second Language

Native as a Second Language programming enhances our students’ cultural awareness and improves their communication skills. When students develop the ability to communicate in a Native language, they are likely to experience increased proficiency in their first language. Learning a Native language will reinforce, not interfere with, the learning of English, French, or other languages.

The NSL program is not designed to make students fully bilingual; rather, the program offers students the opportunity to develop a functional command of a Native language, which can be expanded through further study or through contact with other speakers of the language.

NSL Program Objectives

The NSL program will provide students with learning opportunities that will enable them to:

  • Listen to and understand ideas and Native language under study
  • Express their experiences, thoughts, and feelings orally with clarity and confidence
  • Read in the Native language with growing proficiency
  • Write in the Native language with growing proficiency
  • Acquire and develop learning skills pertinent to language study
  • Improve their use of language through study, practice, and communication
  • Become familiar with the traditions, customs, social structures, history, geography, and arts of the pertinent Native language family, as well as those of other Native communities in Canada and North America
  • Develop an appreciation of the value of Native language and Native identity
  • Link their classroom experiences with life in their community

Aboriginal Self-identification

Parents, caregivers/guardians of HWDSB students, or students age 18 or older are encouraged to voluntarily and confidentially self-identify their First Nation (Status and Non-Status), Métis, or Inuit ancestry. By self-identifying, you are helping HWDSB to determine programming and supports for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit student success and achievement.

To self-identify, please use the form below or contact your school for a paper copy. You have the right to withdraw your consent at any time by asking the school to remove this information.

Self-identifying helps HWDSB provide reliable information on rates of enrolment, literacy, numeracy, graduation rates and course completion. HWDSB is committed to delivering safe and inclusive programs and services that support achievement, engagement and equity by addressing the heritage, culture and perspectives of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

For questions or more information, please contact:

Sharon Stephanian
Superintendent of Equity and Well-being, HWDSB
905-527-5092 ext. 2386




Updated on Wednesday, December 27, 2017.
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