Media Releases

Landmark donation to U of T will advance Indigenous education in Canada

September 26, 2014

TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Insti­tute for Stud­ies in Edu­ca­tion (OISE) at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to has received a $5‑million gift from an anony­mous donor to strength­en Indige­nous edu­ca­tion research in Cana­da.

The gift, which is the largest dona­tion ever made to a Cana­di­an fac­ul­ty of edu­ca­tion for Indige­nous edu­ca­tion research, will estab­lish a pres­ti­gious fel­low­ship and launch a com­pre­hen­sive five-year ini­tia­tive explor­ing the edu­ca­tion­al needs and aspi­ra­tions of Indige­nous peo­ples.

The ini­tia­tive will help forge new part­ner­ships among Indige­nous peo­ples in Cana­da, gov­ern­ment agen­cies, non-gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions and the pri­vate sec­tor with the aim of pur­su­ing vital avenues of inquiry that will enrich all pub­lic edu­ca­tion.

“The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is already rec­og­nized as a world leader in Indige­nous edu­ca­tion thanks to the ded­i­ca­tion of schol­ars at OISE who have made Indige­nous edu­ca­tion a pri­or­i­ty,” said U of T Pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler. “This gift affirms that stature and pro­vides the sup­port required to ensure that U of T con­tin­ues to lead the way. This is a won­der­ful accom­plish­ment.”

“The OISE Indige­nous Edu­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive ful­ly rec­og­nizes and embraces the prin­ci­ples advanced by Indige­nous peo­ples and edu­ca­tors,” not­ed OISE Dean Julia O’Sullivan. “The ini­tia­tive will sup­port impor­tant dia­logue on the advance­ment and achieve­ment of those very prin­ci­ples.”

With­in this con­text, the OISE Indige­nous Ini­tia­tive will focus on lit­er­a­cy dur­ing the first year. This pri­or­i­ty is in keep­ing with the Unit­ed Nations Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals, which rec­og­nize the impor­tance of invest­ment in edu­ca­tion and lit­er­a­cy, as cru­cial to social progress and par­tic­u­lar­ly to the suc­cess­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion of indi­vid­u­als in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“The ini­tia­tive is impor­tant because it fur­ther posi­tions OISE as a post­sec­ondary leader in Abo­rig­i­nal edu­ca­tion. OISE’s unpar­al­leled focus in adopt­ing Indige­nous par­a­digms in edu­ca­tion and research, posit pos­si­bil­i­ties of unprece­dent­ed changes, such as in lit­er­a­cy and men­tal health, and will be under­pinned by sup­port from this ini­tia­tive,” said Dr. Suzanne Stew­art (YK Dene), Cana­da Research Chair in Abo­rig­i­nal Home­less­ness & Life Tran­si­tions and spe­cial advi­sor to the dean on Abo­rig­i­nal Edu­ca­tion at OISE.

Build­ing on its work on lit­er­a­cy, the OISE Indige­nous Edu­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive will also pur­sue research in relat­ed areas such as Indige­nous lan­guages and lan­guage revi­tal­iza­tion, edu­ca­tion gov­er­nance and lit­er­a­cy infra­struc­ture.

While the focus will be the Cana­di­an con­text, the OISE Indige­nous Edu­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive will gen­er­ate new knowl­edge that is rel­e­vant to edu­ca­tion, and the study of edu­ca­tion, in both Indige­nous and non-Indige­nous soci­eties around the world. The research is also expect­ed to have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on pol­i­cy in Cana­da.

“One of the great divi­sions between those who suc­ceed and those who strug­gle relates to lit­er­a­cy and edu­ca­tion. This is espe­cial­ly true with Indige­nous chil­dren,” said Kenn Richard, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Native Child and Fam­i­ly Ser­vices Toron­to. “I applaud this ini­tia­tive as we need to know how to build a sys­tem where all suc­ceed.”

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For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Steve Robin­son
Direc­tor of Strate­gic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Ontario Insti­tute for Stud­ies in Edu­ca­tion
Tel: 416–978-0008
Mobile: 647–515-8752