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It has long been recognized that innovative policies and programs can help to ameliorate unequal opportunities to accessing post-secondary education. With the demographic reality of an aging population and the secondary school population in decline, Canada must devote attention to increasing the educational attainment levels of disadvantaged and under-represented groups in order to meet growing social and economic challenges. This paper highlights some of the contemporary challenges facing post-secondary education in Canada and focuses on the need for a system that is more democratic, open, and accessible. The paper draws upon current research about the challenges faced by groups of Canadians who experience diffi culty accessing higher learning opportunities. It explores a number of possibilities for increasing educational participation and attainment for those who have traditionally been excluded from the system.