As part of the Aboriginal Literacy Initiative, Yellowknife and the South Slave Region were visited as part of our efforts to identify and gather information on Aboriginally-managed activities in the area of adult literacy. In all, seven projects or activities were identified and visited in Yellowknife, Rae-Edzo, Fort Providence and Hay River. In the Eastern Arctic, information was gathered by telephone. Telephone interviews were also conducted in the Yukon, as only two Aboriginally-managed initiatives were identified, making it difficult to justify the costs of traveling to the area.
Both the Yukon and Northwest Territories are characterized by a high proportion of Aboriginal people in the population, and levels of literacy among the lowest in the country. Low levels of literacy in these territories are based, in part, on the relatively late arrival of a unified formal educational system. In some regions, those in the 20-35 age group were among the first to be enrolled in school, since older mission schools did not service a large percentage of the population. But the two regions appear to be very different in terms of the approach taken by their governments to promoting the direct service delivery and management of adult literacy initiatives by Aboriginal communities and organizations.
In the Yukon, Yukon College has been given the territorial mandate to deliver ABE and other employment oriented programming at the community level. While we spoke to representatives of many First Nations communities, we identified only current Aboriginally-managed initiatives: the Taan "Pathfinders" program and the Kwanalin Dun House of Learning, both located in Whitehorse. While other communities had attempted to set up their own initiatives, no mechanism exists at the territorial level for them to access funding to deliver services.
The Northwest Territories, and particularly the South Slave Region demonstrate an impressive number of small, enduring, Aboriginal-managed activities in the area of adult literacy and up-grading. They co-exist along side a Territory-wide college system (Aurora/Arctic College), which also has a mandate to provide Adult Basic Education leading to technical, academic and employment-oriented college diplomas.