Research summary - Education and training experiences of Indigenous People

Official title: Education and training experiences of Indigenous People in Canada: Results from the 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey

Author of report: Barbara Bekooy

Why this study

The existence of an educational achievement gap between Indigenous people (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and non-Indigenous Canadians is well documented. According to the 2011 National Household Survey and 2016 Census:

  • Indigenous people are less likely to finish high school or their post-secondary studies than the non-Indigenous population in Canada
  • between First Nations, Inuit and Métis, the education gaps grow wider

This shows that there is a need to learn more about their education and training experiences.

What we did

The project took descriptive findings from Statistics Canada’s 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS). The survey data represents nearly 1 million Indigenous people aged 15 and over living off reserve and in Canada, including by Indigenous group:

  • half a million First Nations people living off reserve
  • nearly 45,000 Inuit
  • 468,000 Métis people

Our research looked at:

  • demographic breakdowns, based on highest level of schooling finished
  • their time in school at the post-secondary level, and how they funded their studies
  • those who left school, and why they left
  • their schooling goals, and any challenges they faced to reach them, and
  • those who took part in skills training, and those who wanted to but were unable to

What we found

  • In the last 5 years, more Indigenous people were completing post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada. In general, people with higher levels of schooling were more likely to work and have higher earnings. Still, gaps remain between First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, between sexes, and depending on where they live
  • Out of the 3 Indigenous groups, Métis people had the highest proportion of individuals who completed PSE in Canada. For Inuit, most of the population did not finish high school
  • Few Indigenous students took part in activities specifically centered on helping Indigenous learners adjust to or succeed in PSE. Even so, those who did take part were more likely to obtain a higher level of schooling and have a job
  • More Indigenous people stated they had 1 funding source to pay for PSE. This is a large change from 2012 APS findings, when more learners reported using 2 or 3 funding sources. The top funding sources stated in 2017 were:
    • savings (28%) and
    • government student loans (28%)
  • One in 3 Indigenous people said they took part in a work placement while they were in school, including:
    • one in 3 First Nations
    • one in 5 Inuit, and
    • almost half of Métis people
  • Indigenous people who did not complete their studies often said that they left school to work
  • One in 5 Indigenous people who did not finish elementary or high school had a PSE credential
  • Of those who did not finish elementary or high school but wanted to return to school, many cited the main barriers to their educational goals to be:
    • financial costs and
    • personal or family responsibilities
  • The survey asked Indigenous people who were unemployed what barriers they faced to finding a job. All 3 Indigenous groups pointed to:
    • lack of jobs and
    • not enough education and training

What it means

The findings of this research will inform the federal government’s efforts to strengthen First Nations, Inuit and Métis learners’ respective abilities to:

  • access student supports
  • take part in, persist in, and complete PSE
  • find good jobs

Contact us

Learning Branch, Learning Policy and Services Directorate, Policy Planning and Partnerships Division.


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