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New Senate report highlights youth leaders’ calls to improve Indigenous education

Press Release

November 15, 2023

Montréal – Curriculum changes, improved teacher training and additional funding and resources to support Indigenous students would help break down barriers and improve their experiences within traditional and non-traditional settings, says a new Senate report based on testimony provided by young Indigenous community leaders.

Released Wednesday, November 15, 2023, the report, Celebrating Leadership in Indigenous Education, outlines what the Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples heard from eight Indigenous youth leaders during two official committee meetings on June 7, 2023. The participants were invited to meet with senators in Ottawa and testify about Indigenous education as part of the committee’s annual Voices of Youth Indigenous Leaders event.

The first part of the report highlights the participants’ experiences and challenges within various education systems, and their vision for the future of Indigenous education. The second part describes participants’ contributions to their community and priorities they raised, including Indigenous health and well-being, food security, and environmental issues.

The committee extends its heartfelt gratitude to the eight Indigenous youth leaders for coming to Ottawa and taking the time to share their stories, experiences, priorities and hopes with senators — and now, the rest of the country.

Quick Facts

  • In 2016, the Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples invited young Indigenous leaders to appear as witnesses before the committee on National Indigenous Peoples Day. This initiative became an annual event for the committee, now known as Voices of Youth Indigenous Leaders.
  • For the event’s 2023 edition, Indigenous youth were asked to apply by submitting a short text outlining their educational experiences in public, private, traditional and non-traditional Indigenous education settings, including post-secondary institutions. The committee received a total of 123 applications.
  • The committee invited eight Indigenous youth leaders in 2023 to come to Ottawa, participate in activities — including meetings with senators — and provide testimony during two official committee meetings on June 7. Read more about each participant in the Senate’s online magazine.


“Indigenous youth deserve to provide input on matters that affect their lives. This year, the committee heard their visions and recommendations for the future of Indigenous education loud and clear. Following this report, we hope to see changes that improve the education system for Indigenous students of all ages and abilities.”

– Senator Brian Francis, Chair of the committee

“The Indigenous youth leaders who testified before the committee this year all overcame significant barriers to achieve academic success. We celebrate their triumphs and resilience, but governments and institutions must take steps to ensure future generations of Indigenous students do not face the same challenges.”

– Senator David M. Arnot, Deputy Chair of the committee

“As a former educator, I appreciate how Voices of Youth Indigenous Leaders exposed me to various perspectives and realities. I’m grateful to this year’s participants for opening my eyes through their compelling testimonies — especially to the needs of deaf Indigenous youth, who must often decide whether to attend school within or outside their communities.”

– Senator Yonah Martin, member of the committee

“I was deputy chair when we first started inviting youth to share their perspectives and recommendations for change with us. We did it because we recognized the power of youth and wanted to look for ways to give a platform to young Indigenous leaders across the country. It has now burgeoned into something with significant impact on the work of this committee.”

– Senator Dennis Patterson, member of the committee

Associated Links

For more information:

Jérémie Spadafora
Communications Officer | Senate of Canada


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