In the fall of 2002, researchers from the University of Alberta were invited to participate in a three-year longitudinal evaluation of the effect of culturally compatible education, as understood and offered by Mother Earth’s Children’s Charter School (MECCS), on the mental and physical health of Aboriginal children. MECCS is the first and only indigenous children’s charter school in Canada. The school was established by a group of parents and educators who believed that there were more effective ways to educate their children through indigenous approaches to learning, as opposed to conventional Euro-centered approaches to education. Wilson Bearhead, co-founder and past cultural adviser to the school, shared the following when asked about how he felt the conventional school system had failed Aboriginal children:
The importance of how you teach and how you present education was not considered and as a result we went through, I think, over 20 years of failure trying to teach someone else’s structure and someone else’s way of thinking. . . . We forgot who we were . . . we were trying to be someone we were not and as a result failures happened.
(W. Bearhead, personal communication, March 2005)
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