Education and Employment Outcomes

Download the PDF:


Themes:  Education; Education as a Detriment of Health; Employment; Income Variants; Inequitable Funding; Education Barriers; Child Poverty; Inequitable Outcomes; Carceral Education

Acknowledgement: This research document was reviewed by Dr. Terry Wotherspoon. Terry Wotherspoon is Professor of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. He has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Simon Fraser University, along with degrees in Sociology (M.A. and B.A.) and Education (B.Ed.). Before beginning his academic career, which has included several years of service as Head of Sociology, he taught school at elementary and secondary levels. His research and publications focus on issues related to education, social policy, Indigenous-settler relations, and social inclusion, exclusion and inequality in Canada, supported with funding from SSHRC as well as other agencies and organizations, including Saskatchewan Learning, the Laidlaw Foundation, the Council of First Ministers of Education Canada, and the Prairie Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration. In 2018, Dr. Wotherspooon published the 5th edition of The Sociology of Education in Canada: Critical Perspectives. The research document was reviewed for comprehensiveness and accuracy tonsure quality and validity of the research. The information in this document is current as of March 2024.

Executive Summary: Education plays a pivotal role in shaping an individual's life outcomes, including employment, earnings, poverty levels, physical and mental health, well-being, and social mobility. Disparities in educational attainment and outcomes persist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Canada, particularly evident in Saskatchewan. The legacy of colonialism has perpetuated intergenerational disparities in education, leading to lower graduation rates and poorer academic performance among Indigenous students. Inequitable funding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education systems exacerbates this disadvantage, limiting access to post-secondary education and perpetuating economic marginalization. These disparities contribute to lower average incomes for Indigenous individuals with equivalent educational qualifications, exacerbating poverty, homelessness, child apprehension, and incarceration rates among Indigenous communities. Addressing these inequities is essential for improving overall well-being and fostering social cohesion in Saskatchewan. Efforts to achieve educational parity for Indigenous populations are crucial for promoting economic empowerment, enhancing social integration, and realizing aspirations for self-determination. By prioritizing equitable access to quality education, Saskatchewan can mitigate the adverse health and socioeconomic impacts of educational disparities, fostering a more inclusive and prosperous society for all.

Purpose of the document: What are "Systemic and Background Factors" and how are they relevant to the Gladue Principles? Systemic and background factors (also known as Gladue Factors) are the unique experiences, circumstances, and challenges that an Indigenous person, their family, community, or Nation has faced. They relate to the harmful effects of colonialism and discrimination, past and present. Systemic and Background factors must be considered in a Gladue analysis (e.g. the direct and intergenerational impacts of residential school and the Sixties Scoop, among others). These factors are broader circumstances known to contribute to the over-incarceration of Indigenous persons in particular, as well as those that figure prominently in the causation of crime more generally. The purpose of this Research Summary is to help provide social context and background information for judges, lawyers, and Gladue report writers to better unpack the complex ways systemic discrimination and settler colonialism can impact an Indigenous person’s life. As well, these summaries will provide evidence-based research that speak to alternatives to incarceration, restorative options, and ways to support an individual through healing, aftercare, and release planning. While these summaries cannot replace the need for case-specific information about Indigenous individuals or the contemporary dynamics within their families and Nations, they can be used to craft more effective submissions and reports that better tie those case-specific details to the broader social context surrounding Indigenous overincarceration.