Achieving Equity in Graduation Rates and Other Indicators of Success for Indigenous Learners in Canada


  • Dustin William Louie University of British Columbia - Associate Professor
  • Leona Prince School District 91



Indigenous Education, Decolonizing Education, Indigenizing Education, Reconciliation Education


This research project was designed to attend to inequity for Indigenous students, communities, and knowledges in a northern British Columbian district. The aims of the article are to share the systemic and individual transformation for Indigenous learners and their families based on the strengths and barriers they perceive in the system. Presented here are the results of extensive engagement with students, parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, and Indigenous communities that have led to novel practical approaches to governance, policy, programmatic design, and practice in a mainstream school district, resulting in improved school experiences for Indigenous learners. Through this research we illuminate the voices of Indigenous students and show how they guided the pursuit of equity in a Canadian school district. We examined the unconscious colonial agenda to understand how it emerges visibly and invisibly in a given context (Louie, 2020), while simultaneously creating distinct responses emerging from the teachings of Indigenous stakeholders and rights holders. Internal and external pressures on school districts often result in urgent demands for transformation, or at minimum, the urgent shift in perception of transformation (Daigle, 2019), but real and sustaining change cannot be rushed, borrowed, or created in isolation from the rest of the system.

Author Biographies

Dustin William Louie, University of British Columbia - Associate Professor

UBC Faculty of Education

Leona Prince, School District 91

Leona Prince is a Dakelh District Principal of Indigenous Education with School District 91


Auditor General of British Columbia. (2015). An audit of the education of Aboriginal students in the B.C. public school system.

Battiste, M. (2017). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. UBC Press.

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Core competencies.

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2021). Aboriginal report how are we doing?

Daigle, M. (2019). The spectacle of reconciliation: On (the) unsettling responsibilities to Indigenous peoples in the academy. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 37(4), 703–721.

de Finney, S. (2014). Under the shadow of empire: Indigenous girls’ presencing as decolonizing force. Girlhood Studies, 7(1), 8–26.

Diocesan Pastoral Centre. (n.d.). Rose Prince (Lejac) pilgrimage. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince George.

Donald, D. (2012). Forts, curriculum, and ethical relationality. In J. Rottman (Ed.), Reconsidering Canadian curriculum studies (pp. 39–46). Palgrave Macmillan.

Draper, C. (2016). Re-conceptualizing indigenous student success in response to the TRC’s calls to action. In T. Falkenberg (Ed.), Philosophical inquiry in education: Engaging with the TRC’s calls to action (pp. 23–34).

Ermine, W. (2005, May 3–5). Ethical space: Transforming relations [Conference presentation]. National Gatherings on Indigenous Knowledge, Rankin Inlet, NU.

Fiske, J. A. & Patrick, B. (2000). Cis Dideen Kat. UBC Press.

Goulet, L. M., & Goulet, K. N. (2014). Teaching each other: Nehinuw concepts and Indigenous pedagogies. UBC Press.

Government of Canada, Province of British Columbia, & First Nations Education Steering Committee. (2018). BC tripartite education agreement: Supporting First Nation student success.

Hare, J. (2004). They beat the drum for me. Education Canada, 44(4), 17–20.

Kovach, M. (2010). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. University of Toronto Press.

Louie, D. W. (2020). A social justice teaching framework: Blending critical theory and Blackfoot epistemologies. Interchange, 51(2), 179–197.

Louie, D. W. (Forthcoming). Embodying nedzi: Practical approaches to decolonizing and indigenizing education. UBC Press.

Louie, D. W., & Gereluk, D. (2021). The insufficiency of high school completion rates to redress educational inequities among Indigenous students. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 28(1), 43–58.

Louie, D. W., & Poitras Pratt, Y. (Forthcoming). Witnessing as pedagogy: Translating Indigenous Knowledges into practice. McGill Journal of Education.

Louie, D. W., Poitras Pratt, Y., Hanson, A. J., & Ottmann, J. (2017). Applying Indigenizing principles of decolonizing methodologies in university classrooms. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 47(3), 16–33.

McDiarmid, J. (2019). Highway of Tears: A true story of racism, indifference, and the pursuit of justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Atria Books.

Milne, E., & Wotherspoon, T. (2020). Schools as “really dangerous places” for Indigenous children and youth: Schools, child welfare, and contemporary challenges to reconciliation. Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie, 57(1), 34–52.

Morton, K. (2016). Hitchhiking and missing and murdered Indigenous women: A critical discourse analysis of billboards on the Highway of Tears. Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers canadiens de sociologie, 41(3), 299–326.

Mosby, I. (2013). Administering colonial science: Nutrition research and human biomedical experimentation in Aboriginal communities and residential schools, 1942–1952. Histoire sociale/Social History, 46(1), 145–172.

Murry, A. T., & James, K. (2021). Reconciliation and industrial–organizational psychology in Canada. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 53(2), 114–124.

Poitras Pratt, Y., Louie, D. W., Hanson, A. J., & Ottmann, J. (2018). Indigenous education and decolonization. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

Rahman, K. (2013). Belonging and learning to belong in school: The implications of the hidden curriculum for indigenous students. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34(5), 660–672.

School District 91 Nechako Lakes. (2021). About our learning community.

School District 91 Nechako Lakes. (2022). Equity scan.

Scott, D., & Louie, D. W. (2020). Reconsidering rural education in the light of Canada’s Indigenous reality. In M. Corbett & D. Gereluk (Eds.), Rural teacher education (pp. 113–133). Springer.

Scully, A. (2012). Decolonization, rehabilitation, and reconciliation: Aboriginal and place-based education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. 17, 148–158.

Sensoy, O., & DiAngelo, R. (2017). Is everyone really equal? An introduction to key concepts in social justice education. Teachers College Press.

Shields, C. M. (2019). Challenging racism in our schools: Good intentions are not enough. International Studies in Educational Administration, 47(3), 3–17.

Smith, J. A., Larkin, S., Yibarbuk, D., & Guenther, J. (2017). What do we know about community engagement in Indigenous education contexts and how might this impact on pathways into higher education? In J. Frawley, S. Larkin, & J. A. Smith (Eds.), Indigenous pathways, transitions and participation in higher education (pp. 31–44). Springer.

Smith, L. T. (2021). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books.

Stanley, T. J. (2020). Commemorating John A. Macdonald: Collective remembering and the structure of settler colonialism in British Columbia. BC Studies, 204, 89–237.

Sutherland, D. (2005). Resiliency and collateral learning in science in some students of Cree ancestry. Science Education, 89(4), 595–613.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Canada’s residential schools: The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Vol. 1). McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP.

United Nations. (2007, September 13). Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”




How to Cite

Louie, D. W., & Prince, L. (2023). Achieving Equity in Graduation Rates and Other Indicators of Success for Indigenous Learners in Canada . Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 46(1), 1–32.