Current Indigenous Top Ten

September 20, 2023

Lakehead, Trent, Queen’s, UTM raise Indigenous structures, symbols on campus

Lakehead University, Trent University Durham, Queen’s University, and the University of Toronto Mississauga have introduced Indigenous-focused spaces and symbols to their campuses. Lakehead held a National Truth and Reconciliation Flag Raising ceremony on its campus to honour the survivors of Canada’s residential and day school system. “This is an incredibly important location. There are many First Nations in this large geographic area and we want to be inclusive of all of them at the university and come together as often as we can,” said Lakehead President Gillian Siddall. Trent Durham’s community came together to raise a 16-foot tipi and open the space with a Pipe Ceremony. Queen’s University opened an outdoor Indigenous gathering space that is designed for sacred ceremonial activities and teaching and learning activities. UTM raised its Tipi and Teaching Lodge, which will be permanent structures on campus. The Tipi will be used for traditional, sacred ceremonies, while the Teaching Lodge will be used as a teaching environment for special events. TB Newswatch (Lakehead) | Anishinabek News (Lakehead) | Trent | Queen’s | UTM | InSauga (UTM) (ON)

Steps to addressing the Indigenous teacher shortage: Editorial

Deanna Matthews, director of Impact and Learning at Teach For Canada—Gakinaamaage and a member of Sachigo Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario, has penned an editorial for the Toronto Star about what needs to be done to address the teacher shortages in Indigenous communities. Matthews explains that teaching experience gained in the North is not recognized by many Canadian school boards, placing teachers at a disadvantage if they want to eventually teach in the south. Yet, Matthews writes, teachers in the north often work with greater independence and responsibility off the bat and can quickly become a part of their local community. This results in “immense professional and personal development” that should be viewed as an asset and attributable towards salary bands and seniority in the south. “At a time when actionable reconciliation is at the forefront for Canadians, there is a real opportunity for teachers to both grow their careers and make a difference for students who need it the most,” Matthews concludes. The Star (Editorial)

NWT releases annual report on the state of the JK-12 education system for 2021-22

The Government of the Northwest Territories has released its annual report on the state of the JK-12 education system for the 2021-22 school year. Cabin Radio reports that the report data was dominated by pandemic consequences, as the 2021-22 school year had the most interruptions and complete shutdowns with remote learning being used for a fifth of the school year. The total enrolments in Indigenous language programs have decreased from 2018-19 to 2021-22, possibly because of the COVID-19 pandemic or the changing student populations. Other findings included the continued gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student graduation rates, with Indigenous students still graduating at a rate of 40-50% compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts who graduated at a rate of 70-80%. NWT | NWT (Report) | Cabin Radio (NWT)

UWinnipeg hosts basketball training camp for youth focused on Indigenous teachings

The University of Winnipeg will be hosting a new basketball training camp for female athletes between the ages of 13 and 18. The camp is offered by Zaagi’idiwin Sport Performance, an athletic platform created by UWinnipeg alumnus Robyn Boulanger (Berens River First Nation) in partnership with Adam Thompson. The camp focuses on Indigenous teachings, on-court skills, and movement and fitness training. “When they go on this platform, they’re able to see people that are similar to them and have similar experiences and stories, right?” said Boulanger. “(We’d like to show) Indigenous kids from these communities and portray the message that you can integrate for a movement into Indigenous culture and you can bring your game to the next level by doing so.” Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

Bridge to Publishing program to teach Indigenous youth about storytelling, traditional knowledge

A new, free program offered by Asitu’lisk Cultural Centre will provide Indigenous youth with the skills they need to learn how to use traditional knowledge and stories for publishing and storytelling. The Bridge to Publishing: Reclaiming the Indigenous Narrative of Atlantic Canada pilot project will provide a series of workshops that will teach youth oral traditions and how they can be used in publishing and storytelling. “The opportunity for the youth to engage their elders in the communities as writers or publishers is fast becoming an urgency,” said Marshall. “We’re losing so many people and the knowledge that goes with that is a tragedy.” Marshall said that youth have been requesting a program that brings together communication and knowledge using reading, multimedia, and transliteracy. CBC (NS)

Wunnumin Lake First Nation celebrates official opening of John George Martin Memorial School

Wunnumin Lake First Nation recently celebrated the official opening of John George Martin Memorial School, which replaces the Lydia Lois Beardy Memorial School. The new school is named after the late First Nations Elder John George Martin. It has bright hallways, traditional artwork, and Oji-Cree syllabics above coat hooks and cubbies. One of the school’s mandates is to strengthen the Oji-Cree language in the community: The school offers a new Oji-Cree language immersion program for students from junior kindergarten to Grade 2. Once students complete these grades, they continue taking Oji-Cree as a class. “That’s one of the main goals that I have — to start encouraging the parents to speak the language to their grandkids and kids instead of English,” said the school’s education director Tommy Sainnawap. “It starts at home.” CBC (ON)

Keyano to launch new Indigenous Advisory Circle, Elder or Auntie-in-Residence program

Keyano College has announced that it will implement an Indigenous Advisory Circle and an Elder or Auntie-in-Residence Program. These initiatives are part of a broader effort to foster the academic success and cultural integration of Keyano’s Indigenous students and community members, promote Indigenous-led solutions, and encourage equity and reconciliation. “For transformation to happen, we must implement curricular and non-curricular programming that is mindful of Indigenous history and ensure that our campus policies and support services align with Indigenous traditions,” said Keyano President Jay Notay. These initiatives are supported by a nearly $700K donation from the Suncor Energy Foundation. Keyano (AB)

BC Indigenous course requirement now in place, four school districts have developed local courses

The Government of British Columbia’s Indigenous course requirement is now in place for high school students, reports CBC. Under the requirement, all Grade 12 students in BC must take at least one of ten approved courses that place a focus on Indigenous readings, teachings, culture, and history in order to graduate from high school. Four school districts in BC have taken advantage of the option to develop their own courses in collaboration with local First Nation(s). Indigenous education consultant Jo Chrona explained that this option “will require more time because collaboration requires more time, but [will result in] courses that respond to local First Nations' priorities.” CBC (BC)

CapilanoU, shíshálh Nation collaborate to create Indigenous arts mastery program

Capilano University is partnering with the shíshálh Nation to establish a new program in Indigenous arts mastery. The Carving Shed: Supporting Indigenous Arts Mastery (SIAM) programis comprised of two year-long courses in wood/silver carving and plant medicine, which will be held at kálax-ay, CapilanoU’s Sunshine Coast campus in Sechelt. “To give our students the opportunity to feel safe in their own environment while learning with artists, Elders and community members is an amazing gift,” said CapilanoU Indigenous faculty advisor Jessica Silvey. “There is a lot of talk about Reconciliation, which is mostly just words, but this partnership […] shows what can be achieved when we work together.” CapilanoU (BC)

SFU, UAlberta, UBC named as partners on five-year, $30M USD Indigenous knowledges centre

Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia will play an important part in a five-year, $30M USD international initiative focused on bringing together Indigenous knowledges and Western science. The Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges and Sciences (CBIKS), based out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with research also occurring in eight international “hubs” will connect Indigenous knowledges and Western sciences to solve the pressing issues of today. UAlberta states that the Mountains and Prairies regional hub will host work from UAlberta, with Kisha Supernant (UAlberta) leading one of the working groups. SFU and UBC are listed as partners on CBIKS’s website. UMass (CBIKS) | UMass | UAlberta (International)