National Aboriginal Day: Time to focus on the potential of Aboriginal youth

June 21, 2012 - 2:00am

OTTAWA (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) – As the rich and diverse cultures of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples are celebrated today, National Aboriginal Day is also an appropriate time to reflect on the potential of young Aboriginal Canadians, and the role higher education can play in helping them achieve that potential.

“With a significant demographic shift already under way, we need to make sure all our young people are equipped for their role in a different kind of Canada,” says Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “We need to do a better job of preparing Canada’s future workforce – especially Aboriginal young people – to meet the challenges of an innovative and global economy and society.”

Aboriginal youth is the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population. There are almost half a million Aboriginal people under the age of 20, yet their university attainment is just one-third the national average. The education gap in this country is large and growing. Canada’s universities are working with the Assembly of First Nations, Indspire Canada and others to help close the gap.

“Real change will come about when governments, Aboriginal communities and partners in education come together to make the investments and bold changes we know are needed to get meaningful results,” says Mr. Davidson.

“The urgent need of today is to fully engage Aboriginal youth in the Canada of tomorrow. If we achieve that – and we must – we will address changing labour market needs, build prosperity and enhance quality of life for all Canadians.”

Note: Snuneymuxw First Nation is hosting an Aboriginal Day celebration at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon, adjacent to Maffeo-Sutton Park in Nanaimo this afternoon (Thursday, June 21). The celebration takes place from noon to 5:30 pm and will include traditional First Nations' cuisine at $5 a plate, cultural events and educational opportunities, games and activities. Speakers for the event include Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Douglas White, VIU President Ralph Nilson, Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog, Parksville Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA, Doug Routley and Ralph Nilson, President of Vancouver Island University.

Tags: In the Community

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