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Urban Aboriginal Study Released by Trent University Professor in Thunder Bay
February 2, 2007

Findings Reveal Increase in Post-Secondary Education Levels; Poverty and Homelessness Persist


On February 6 at the Oliver Centre in Thunder Bay, Indigenous Studies Professor Don McCaskill of Trent University presented his research findings which studied the reality of urban Aboriginal people living in Thunder Bay. 


This major research project was led by Prof. McCaskill and co-investigator Professor Kevin Fitzmaurice, a PhD graduate of Trent’s Indigenous Studies program.


In a press conference organized by the Ontario Urban Aboriginal Task Force, Prof. McCaskill delivered his report that revealed that significantly more urban Aboriginal people have completed their post-secondary education than in 1981, the last time a study like this was undertaken.  This study also showed a growing middle class segment, with 22% of urban Aboriginal people earning more than $40,000 per year.


Challenges facing urban Aboriginal people persist, however, particularly concerning increases in family violence, poverty and homelessness.  “What’s worrying me is if youth programs aren’t initiated, youth gangs may start,” said Prof. McCaskill.  The phenomenon of gangs moving east from Winnipeg into Thunder Bay is already evident.


Five cities were included in the study: Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Barrie-Midland, Sudbury and Kenora.  This report was the first of five site reports to be released; a final Ontario report is expected sometime this spring.


This study was commissioned by the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC) and funded by several Aboriginal organizations in conjunction with the federal and provincial governments.  Each site report contains 40 recommendations that OFIFC hopes will result in the creation of new government policies and programs to address the needs of urban Aboriginal people.

For further information about Trent University Indigenous Studies program, please visit the department website.