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Aboriginal Education

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Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) is committed to delivering safe, welcoming and accepting learning environments that support all students. To accomplish this, we are supporting the heritage, culture, and perspectives of the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

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:

Jolene John
Aboriginal Community Liaison
(t): 905-527-5092 x.2464
(f): 905-521-2544
(e): jjohn@hwdsb.on.ca


Supporting School - Family - Community Partnerships

Our Aboriginal Community Liaison

Our Aboriginal Community Liaison provides support and advocacy services for Aboriginal students and families at HWDSB. Our liaison works with our schools, students, families and community organizations to develop and enhance sustainable relationships within the Aboriginal community, so that we can enhance engagement in learning.

The Aboriginal Stay in School Initiative (NYA:WEH)

The Native Youth Advancement With Education Hamilton (NYA:WEH) program, funded through community grants, provides a culturally based support for Aboriginal youth through HWDSB. The program amalgamates two streams of education – Western and traditional – which are integral to the success of Aboriginal youth. Both education systems provide services and supports so youth can become lifelong learners and contributing citizens in a diverse world. Dedicated support programs are located at Sir John A. Macdonald, Delta, Mountain and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary Schools.

Strengthening Hamilton’s Aboriginal Education (SHAE)

SHAE is a partnership between the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), and the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre (HRIC). This alternative education program provides an opportunity for Indigenous students to learn through a community and cooperative education model which values Indigenous ways of knowing and being, to ultimately encourage Indigenous student success and wellness.

Supporting Learners and Educators

Curriculum Supports for Educators

Educators can learn how to integrate Aboriginal culture, heritage and perspectives into the classroom.

  • Building staff capacity regarding First Nation, Métis and Inuit heritage, culture and needs.
  • Discovering culturally relevant educational pedagogy and theories to increase student success and engagement within our Aboriginal student population.
  • Building connections to Aboriginal knowledge, cultural awareness and 21st-century learning opportunities.
  • Sharing key recommendations for culturally relevant materials for Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Aboriginal Education Resource Collection

  • To integrate Aboriginal education into all classrooms, this collection includes books, government publications,
  • Bibliographies, videos and hands-on material related to the heritage, traditions and stories of Aboriginal people.
  • The following items are available for borrowing and classroom use; please request by phone at 905-527-5092, ext. 2464.
  • Toolkits for engaging and empowering Aboriginal youth.
  • Elementary-level ready-to-read books.
  • Secondary-level novels for literature circles/dramatic plays with teacher resource guides.
  • Classroom videos to support secondary-level discussions on Aboriginal identity, relationships, sovereignty and other challenges.
  • Aboriginal heritage and cultural resources for hands-on activities.
  • Talking feather, stick and/or stone available for sharing circles or restorative justice circles.

Supporting our Community

We support Student and Family Engagement by…

  • Building partnerships for student success that involve educators, students, parents/guardians, and community stakeholders.
  • Providing Aboriginal student and family advocacy services.
  • Helping families navigate school policies and procedures.
  • Staying up-to-date on community-based outreach activities.

We support Community Engagement and Partnerships by…

  • Facilitating communication, dialogue and partnerships with local Aboriginal communities.
  • Working collaboratively to develop new projects to enhance school-community relationships.

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
Updated on Tuesday, February 06, 2018.
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