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ALUMNI & FRIENDS

INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA A MAJOR FACTOR IN ABORIGINAL HEALING/EDUCATION SAYS STEWART

Prof. Suzanne Stewart

By Fred Michah Rynor
 
“The sins of the past,” so it's said, “will visit those in the present” and that's certainly the case when it comes to the stain of residential schooling forced upon Canada's Aboriginal children.
 
This mandatory removal of First Nations young from their families continues to haunt present generations according to Assistant Professor Suzanne Stewart who spoke on intergenerational trauma and education on December 11th.
 
"All of us are touched by the trauma of residential schools and this continues to be a major site of multiple traumas suffered by Aboriginal peoples to this day."  
 
Stewart, who teaches in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology, contends that students must learn the history of First Nations peoples "along with treaties and historic agreements and other aspects of indigenous cultures and identities."
 
Such inclusion would help stem the serious dropout rates of Aboriginal students which are four times the national average, she states. "Ninety percent of First Nations youth never finish high school."
 
Bringing Elders and Aboriginal teachers into classes would result in many First Nation students staying in school, Stewart adds. "Omissions relating to the Aboriginal contributions to Canadian history is a major failing of our educational system.”
 
"These alumni events help me educate myself further," said Todd Cunningham (OISE, 2011), an instructor in the APHD program. "They're an important showcase of ongoing research at OISE."
 
"Ten of my former library communities were Aboriginal districts so I'm very interested in First Nations education," added Elizabeth Ridler (OISE, 1976), a retired librarian from Saskatchewan. "Now that I'm back in my home city I can take in more of these fascinating alumni talks."

Video recording of Prof. Stewart's presentation is available online.

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