This paper discusses the journey toward self-managed education for the Innu people of coastal Labrador who, after an arduous struggle, have finally attained autonomy from the Canadian government. While the paper briefly explores the broader context within which Innu education has evolved, particular attention will be given to the role served by a recent research project in both documenting the specific educational needs of the people and presenting a process to guide change. What emerged from that study was a wealth of data including community attitudes to education, as well as indicators of attendance, ability and achievement of the entire population of school-aged children. The study documented significant learning needs among the school-aged population despite average cognitive ability and a desire to achieve well in school. A plethora of policy recommendations was presented to guide the creation of Innu-managed education as well as to establish a template for the creation of a bicultural model of education, one in which traditional culture and native language were prioritized. This paper explores the five-year impact of that study on both policy and practice for Aboriginal education in coastal Labrador. As such, it informs the establishment of policy and pedagogical approaches for educators attempting to balance contemporary educational opportunity with retention of core cultural values.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.