Participants spoke about the five LBS components and identified where some of the gaps in service delivery occur or recur. There was unanimous agreement about the next steps:
After presenting the medicine wheel teachings to the groups collective heart/mind/spirit, the elder cautioned them to overcome the urge to move immediately to action by jumping from the eastern door to the northern door. He reminded them not to neglect the steps in between, and not to forget to take the time in the south to build relationships with potential partners in order to establish relations in a good way. He also reminded them to turn West to develop respect and understanding of the knowledge and wisdom contained within Aboriginal community resources. The bridge of respect and unity that must be built between the teachers in the east and the learners in the west must not be undermined by the urge to short-cut the process.
Concluding the Background Information Section
The background information section provides a general overview of Native literacy programs and services over the past 13 years in Toronto and also describes the variety of challenges with which they continue to cope. When placed within the wider context of the many changes occurring at the local and provincial level, potential partners and community members garner a sense of the complex nature of developing a strategy that effectively addresses the needs of Native learners in the Toronto First Nations community.
Many Native literacy programs and service providers across Ontario fear the Native streams eventual diversion and re-assimilation into mainstream literacy. Joining other Native literacy program providers to demand that Aboriginal control of Aboriginal education be a central operating principle of developing and delivering programs often means joining MTCU-funded literacy coalitions.
One of the objectives of this project suggested that developing a five-year strategy for the coordination of Aboriginal literacy services in Toronto meant removing funding issues from the initial discussions and focusing on common program needs in developing successful client-centred services and acknowledging that as a place to begin strategizing.
There are serious control issues with respect to how goals will be defined and addressed. This stance is adopted not only by the local Native community, but is based on a history of systemic discrimination. The integrity of Native processes demands that we not rush to meet mainstream timelines. Rebuilding the sacred hoop of life does not demand we engage in important processes hurriedly or carelessly.
There is a sense that building greater unity with those already established in a broad network of providing social services, education, and training, and who offer a variety of support services, e.g., counselling, would decrease duplication of programs and services and ultimately provide increased cost efficiency. The issue appears to be one of accountability. However, the participants in this project consider the motivation behind forming partnerships under these conditions somewhat suspect.
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