Aboriginal and First Nations Awareness: National Learning Pilot Underway

Developed in collaboration with the Ontario Police College (OPC), Aboriginal and First Nations Awareness is the third of four courses in a national e-learning series funded by the Police Sector Council to be launched at CPKN. Like other courses in this series (Firearms Identification for Public Agents and Recognition of Emotionally Disturbed Persons), this course may be accessed by members of the Canadian law enforcement community for free during an introductory learning period (November 17, 2008 - February 28th, 2009).

As a distinct component of Canadian society, awareness of the unique history and culture of Aboriginal populations is a fundamental factor in effective communication and interaction with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and communities.

"To deal with the issues facing Aboriginal communities today, it's important to understand the Aboriginal point of view in both historical and cultural contexts," says Mr. Bill Stephens, Deputy Director of the Ontario Police College, sponsor of this learning initiative. "Due to the nature of their role, police in particular need to understand the Aboriginal perspective to effectively contribute to the health and safety of the people and communities they serve. Respecting diversity is an integral part of our training at OPC, and we are happy to share our experience in Aboriginal awareness training with the police communities across the country."

Delivered in four comprehensive units, the Aboriginal and First Nations Awareness course provides a basic overview of the history and geography of Aboriginal peoples as the foundation to the contemporary issues of Aboriginal lands, cultures, and communities. In addition to examining the differences between Aboriginal and traditional Western cultures and how culture influences the Aboriginal way of life, communication, and points of view, this course explores the demographic characteristics of Aboriginal peoples and how they perceive their relationships with the land.

This learning package was developed as a joint effort between OPC and CPKN. The content development team for the course involved researchers and subject matter experts in race relations training at the OPC. Several prominent First Nations Elders and Traditional Teachers were also consulted, and provided valuable advice, prior to and during development. Subject matter experts on Aboriginal communities and policing from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police have also contributed significantly to the design and development of the course by serving as reviewers of the instructional material.