Listuguj High School Initiative

We are working with community members to understand governance and control over education, including education at the high school level. As part of this work, LETE conducted a community-wide survey, titled "Listuguj First Nation High School Education Survey". The results of the survey are presented in this report, and act as a starting point for future discussion of education needs of the community.

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Listuguj High School Summary Survey Results

The Listuguj Education, Training & Employment (LETE) directorate is working with community members to understand governance and control over education, especially at the high school level. As part of this work, LETE conducted a community-wide survey, titled “Listuguj First Nation High School Education Survey”. The results of the survey are presented in this report, and act as a starting point for future discussion of educational needs of the community.

Over 560 people participated in the survey. Overall, the survey found that:

  • Only 30% of respondents believe the provincial high school system is currently meeting the needs of community members;

  • Over 80% of respondents felt that establishing a high school in community could address some of these unmet needs;

  • Over 75% of respondents support Listuguj First Nation in establishing a high school.

Key Results

Community members were asked if the provincial high school system is currently meeting the needs of community members. Responses varied, with 33% answering ‘yes’, 26% ‘no’, 26% ‘I don’t know’ and 14% selecting ‘maybe’. These results are shown in Figure 1 below. Those who responded ‘no’ noted concerns with the provincial school system, including the quality and methods of instruction, the content of the curriculum, and racism experienced by students.

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Figure 1: Is the provincial high school education system fully meeting the needs of Listuguj community members?

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Listuguj High School Education Needs

The survey asked whether having a high school in community would address some of the community’s unmet needs related to education. 78% of respondents felt that Listuguj should establish a high school, as depicted in Figure 2 below. More than 77% of respondents felt this endeavor was ‘important’ or ‘very important’.

According to community members, some of the benefits of having a high school in Listuguj includes having opportunities to learn and practice Mi’gmaw language and culture, and the ability to provide appropriate and safe supports for students. Other benefits include the opportunity to hire L’nu teachers and staff – those who “truly know and understand what our children will face”.

Some community members have lingering questions related to a high school in community, including: how to ensure teachers and staff are qualified, whether all staff will be Mi’gmaq, and whether the school could provide the high-quality education needed for students to succeed in post-secondary. As expressed by one community member, “I stand firm in this statement, it will only be successful if you have high standards for staff and those that are going to be the leaders of that school.”

One other concern brought forward is the potential of creating further division between Listuguj community members and nearby non-Indigenous peoples. One participant suggested that “If the high school becomes a reality, [a] method must be included to find the balance between walking in both worlds that benefits Indigenous and non-Indigenous”. One suggested method from community members includes accepting enrollment from non-Indigenous students.

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Figure 2: Would having a high school in Listuguj address some of the community’s unmet needs?

Listuguj Control of Education

 

LETE is working to protect Mi’gmaq Inherent and Treaty Rights, which includes control over Mi’gmaq systems of education. 77% of respondents overwhelmingly agreed that having a schooling system in community from kindergarten to Grade 12 supports this vision of self-determination over education. These results are shown in Figure 3 below.

In order for the school to be Mi’gmaq-led, the governing structures must be grounded in community and culture. Community members felt it was important for LETE, Elders, youth and community members more broadly to be involved in the governing structures of the school. Community priorities for this school include Mig’maq worldviews, culture, language and land-based learning, which over 80% of respondents selected as ‘important’ or ‘very important’.

Factors that would contribute to a healthy school environment and promote student achievement in high school were also identified in the survey. Community members suggested that activity-based learning (i.e., hunting, fishing, harvesting and gathering medicines); flexible and individualized learning; a modified calendar year (for hunting and fishing seasons); and mental health supports as key factors.

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Figure 3: Do you think having a comprehensive schooling system from kindergarten to Grade 12 in Listuguj would support this vision of self-determination?

Conclusion

The results of the Listuguj First Nation High School Education Survey clearly demonstrate support for the control and governance of the education system as well as the establishment of a high school in Listuguj First Nation. A wealth of knowledge is held within community, and it would benefit students greatly to have access to it through their high school education.

Education in Listuguj First Nation must be Mi’gmaq-led and grounded. Still, community members want to ensure that the Listuguj education system supports students in succeeding, both academically and otherwise. Community members hope to see an environment that prepares students for their futures, while also nurturing pride in their Mi’gmaq identity.

Indigenous-led education “is something that would benefit our future generations and could be a source of rejuvenating and maintaining our Mi'gmaq culture.” This survey is the first step of many towards implementing Mi’gmaq-led and controlled high school education.