Aboriginal Students in Math and Science: Situations and Solutions Workshop

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 10:00 - 16:00

IRMACS Presentation Studio, Applied Science Building 10900, The IRMACS Centre, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Campus

A one-day workshop co-organized by the SFU Office for Aboriginal Peoples, the IRMACS Centre, and the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences. 

The workshop brought together seventy-three educators from various levels of the BC educational structure: tribal schools, independent schools, the First Nations Schools Association, BC School Districts, Native Education College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, to discuss topics related to math and science education of Aboriginal students in British Columbia. The main purpose of the workshop was to further build and strengthen the community of educators who were involved in teaching and promoting, or planning and administrating math and science programs among Aboriginal students.


Workshop Schedule & Speakers

10:00 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
- Margaret George, Elder from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation
- Veselin Jungic, Deputy Director, The IRMACS Centre
- Jon Driver, Vice President Academic, Simon Fraser University
- William Lindsay, Director, Office for Aboriginal Peoples

William Lindsay

10:15 am Mitigating the Effects of Colonization: The Development of a Broad Aboriginal Presence at SFU
- Bob Russell, Department of Mathematics, Simon Fraser University 

10:45 am My Experiences in Working with First Nations Numeracy - Stories of Hope
- Sheena Falconer, Education and Youth Coordinator, Huu-ay-aht First Nation School

11:00 am Panel Discussion 1 - Aboriginal Students In Math and Science Classes in Elementary and High Schools
 - Melania Alvarez, BC Education Coordinator, Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences
 - Lyn Daniels, District Vice Principal, Burnaby School Board
 - Andy Karassowitsch , First Nations Schools Association


12:00 pm Lunch Break

1:00 pm From Puzzles to a Ph.D.
 - Shawn Desaulniers, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Okanagan College

1:45 pm Panel Discussion 2 - Aboriginal Students In Math And Science Classes In Post-Secondary Institutions
 - Wayne Tebb, Dean of Trades and Technology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
 - Dennis Contois, Aboriginal Adult Basic Education Program, Native Education College
 - Mark MacLean, Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia

2:45 pm Refreshment Break

Kanwal Neel 3:00 pm Factors that Motivate Aboriginal Students to Improve their Achievement In School Mathematics

 - Kanwal Neel, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University

3:30 pm The Stepping Stones Program
 - Judy Smith, Program Director of the Community Education Program, Simon Fraser University 

4:00 pm Small Number and the Old Canoe (in Squamish)
 - World Premiere of the animated movie narrated by T'naxwtn Peter Jacobs, illustrated by Simon Roy, and directed by Andy Gavel

4:10 pm Concluding Remarks
 - Veselin Jungic

This workshop was inspired and partly supported by NSERC PromoScience Program:"Math Catcher: Mathematics through Aboriginal Storytelling".

Veselin Jungic

About Speakers and Panelists

Melania Alvarez is the BC Education Coordinator for the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) and one of the education coordinators for the Department of Mathematics at UBC. Her main goal is to improve the mathematics experience of Aboriginal students in their schools and communities. Melania works with various aboriginal and academic groups to develop teacher training workshops, mentorship programs, after-school math clubs, and math summer camps that meet the needs of teachers and students in a variety of communities. She has organized several workshops at the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) in which Aboriginal elders, teachers, and mathematicians come together to develop interesting and challenging math resources with a sound cultural background. 

Dennis Contois has been an Aboriginal Adult Basic Education (AABE) instructor for the last 10 years at the Native Education College in Vancouver, BC where he teaches First Nations Studies 11, 12, Computer Studies 11, 12 and Sociology 12. Dennis' research interests include the impact of Information Technologies on Indigenous peoples in Canada. Dennis sits on several committees including Co-Chair of the Indigenous Adult Basic Education (ABE) Working Committee (BC Council of Admissions and Transfers), the Native Education College Education Council, and the Social Science Working Committee. Originally from Winnipeg Manitoba, Dennis enjoys both teaching and learning from aboriginal peoples from across Canada.

Lyn Daniels, M.Ed is the District Vice-Principal, Aboriginal Education in the Burnaby School District. Lyn is Cree and belongs to the Kawacatoose First Nation in southern Saskatchewan. She has worked in several school districts in BC and for the BC Ministry of Education as a coordinator and consultant in Aboriginal Education. Lyn is currently working on a Doctor of Education degree at UBC in Policy and Educational Leadership. Lyn’s research focuses on Aboriginal students’ memories of public education and how they compare to the experiences of former Indian residential school students.

Shawn Desaulniers is a Métis Canadian with a Ph.D. in Theoretical Mathematics and currently
a professor at Okanagan College
in Penticton, BC. His doctoral degree was earned at University
of Alberta in 2008.  In the past, Shawn has helped to organize several conferences and workshops
relating to both mathematics and mathematical education, as well as the Mathematician in
Residence program in Edmonton, SNAP Math Fairs, Open Houses, etc.

Sheena Falconer is the Education and Youth Coordinator for Huu-ay-aht First Nation, located in Anacla. Huu-ay-aht signed treaty in April 2011 and have assumed jurisdiction over their ancestral lands located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Sheena’s role is to create and administer education programs for children, youth and adult citizens. Sheena also worked with adults at the Tseshaht Adult Learning Centre for the last two years, while she commuted to Vancouver to take the part time teaching program at SFU. Her dream is that each person will come to see and celebrate the beauty that is math.

Andy Karassowitsch began teaching in the public system in 1989 as a second career. He has worked with students at the primary, intermediate, and secondary levels.  Andy has always had an interest in math instruction.  In 1996 he joined the staff of Chalo School; a preschool to grade twelve school owned and operated by the Fort Nelson First Nation. In 2008, after 30 years in Fort Nelson Andy's family moved to the Cariboo where he now works for the First Nation Schools Association. Andy's roles now include working with schools completing School Assessments and providing math instructional support.

Mark MacLean has taught for 17 years with UBC's Science One Program, a first year course that provides a solid introduction to Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. This team-taught program in the Faculty of Science at UBC is a great experience for both the faculty and the students. He is the faculty co-chair for UBC's Jump Start 2011, which is an orientation program for new international students. It has proven success in helping to increase retention rates and to improve academic performance. Mark is involved in writing children's books to encourage interest in mathematics amongst Aboriginal children. This is a project with Veselin Jungic at SFU called Math Catcher: Mathematics Through Aboriginal Storytelling. There are versions in a number of First Nations languages, including Blackfoot, Cree, Squamish, and Halq'eméylem. Mark just stepped down from the Editorial Board of Pi in the Sky, a publication of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences aimed at high school students and teachers.

Kanwal Neel is currently the Coordinator for the Friends of Simon Tutoring Project with the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. For his doctoral thesis titled "Numeracy in Haida Gwaii, BC: Connecting Community, Pedagogy, and Epistemology." He consulted many elders, role models, educator and community members. He has diverse experiences as an educator: classroom teacher for thirty years, workshop presenter, author, software developer, textbook reviewer, consultant, researcher and host of the award winning television series “Math Shop”.

Bob Russell has been an SFU Mathematics Professor since 1972. He has served on many national and international scientific advisory boards and is past President of the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society. He is Director of SFU's Centre for Scientific Computing, Associate Member of the Institute for the Humanities and the School of Computing Science, a member of Senate since 1997, and a past member of the Board of Governors. Bob has provided ongoing support for aboriginal education programs, tutoring mathematics at various institutions and prisons since the 1970's, mentoring SFU's First Nations Student Association in the 1980's and 1990's, organizing an SFU Faculty group promoting aboriginal education in the 1990's, and since 2001 serving on numerous committees such as the President's First Nations Advisory Council, the SFU First Nations Studies Advisory Committee, and the SFU First Nations Strategic Planning Committee.

Judy Smith is the Program Director of the SFU Community Education Program, a program that leverages university and community knowledge, expertise and resources to enhance community capacities and support positive social change. A Masters in Arts degree (UBC) studying historical ideas about race, gender, sexuality and class provides the theoretical ground for Judy’s 20 years of activism and community-based program development work in the social profit sector. As part of a dynamic team at SFU, she now oversees and participates in the design and implementation of inclusive, community engaged educational projects and programs that address critical community needs, such as the Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement, the Aboriginal Bridge Programs and a Certificate in Community Capacity Building where participants help to realize community goals and visions in inner city and First Nations communities.

Wayne Tebb is the Dean of Trades and Technology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Wayne worked for many years in adult education and economic development in Canada and in Africa.  He co-founded an alternative elementary school, was the National Program Director of Frontier College, Canada’s oldest adult education institution, a professor of marketing and business strategy, and the Associate Dean of the School of Business at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He has worked with many aboriginal communities developing adult education programs.  He is the father of five children, all adopted, three of whom are aboriginal.  


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