Indigenous Top Ten

November 15, 2012

NB First Nations chiefs seek curriculum control

First Nations communities in New Brunswick need more control over their education, says the provincial Assembly of First Nations Chiefs. In its new "Restoring Hope for First Nations" plan, the Assembly recommends improving education by giving First Nations more power over their curriculum and by developing more First Nations teachers and guidance counsellors. "We ultimately all learn better in a community that reflects who we are as a person and how we can fully be ourselves," says the research and policy director of the project. "Those who know best how to do that are First Nations governments, but what we've done too long is we've [hid] them off without the knowledge and resources that are necessary to have the high quality schools that any of us would want for our kids." CBC

"Playing to Strength" to gather feedback from Arctic youth on economic, social issues

A new online discussion forum for Arctic youth aims to foster open communication between young people from Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit region and then let the world learn from what they have to say. A project of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation (ACYF), the "Playing to Strength" forum is slated to launch in January. The project seeks to build on the feedback from youth to tackle economic and social problems, such as the high school dropout rate of up to 80% in some areas. ACYF's president says he hopes the forum will help policy-makers create better programs and policies for youth. Nunatsiaq News | Playing to Strength

UBC promotes health-sciences field through Aboriginal eMentoring program

Every year, UBC's Faculty of Medicine holds a certain number of seats for incoming First Nations students, but these are not always filled. Through the Aboriginal eMentoring BC program, a group of UBC researchers hopes to introduce more Aboriginal youth to the myriad career opportunities in the entire health-sciences field. Now in its second year, the eMentoring program targets Aboriginal students in Grades 6 through 12. Participants get matched with a UBC health-sciences student, and from there they connect through on an online platform that allows for safe, secure discussions and semistructured activities. The project uses Icouldbe.org, a New York City-based online-mentoring platform. Icouldbe allowed eMentoring to adapt its curriculum and interface to suit Aboriginal youth. For example, the platform uses traditional First Nations imagery and incorporates cultural elements such as the medicine wheel. Georgia Straight

Overdue payments straining relations between Saskatchewan First Nations, school boards

At least 2 school divisions in Saskatchewan say they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid tuition fees for First Nations students who go to schools off-reserve. The chief of the Saulteaux First Nation says her community is behind on its payments because money from the federal Aboriginal Affairs department is slow to arrive, adding that it has been the same problem year after year. The executive director of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association says the overdue payments are "deemed a chronic situation for many jurisdictions because it's been happening for many, many years now," and it is straining working relationships between school divisions and First Nations. "It's hard when the call that you're having to the First Nation is 'When is the bill going to get paid?' as opposed to 'Are we doing what's right for your kids?'" CBC

NWT education minister urges other jurisdictions to establish dedicated residential school curriculum

Jackson Lafferty, the Northwest Territories' Education, Culture, and Employment Minister, is calling on other jurisdictions across Canada to join NWT and Nunavut in developing their own dedicated residential school curricula. In early October, the 2 territories announced Canada's first comprehensive curriculum on residential schools, which is now a key section of NWT's Northern Studies course and Nunavut's Social Studies course. "The exposure through the media and the requests for more information from across Canada has shone a light on the need for other jurisdictions to develop their own dedicated curricula," Lafferty says. NWT News Release

Manitoba's Treaty Education Initiative drawing students closer together

What began as a pilot project in 2010 to teach Grade 5 and 6 students about the role of treaties as a building block of Manitoba is quickly growing into a successful relationship-building exercise between students of all cultural backgrounds, including those of First Nations descent. "We hoped but never quite anticipated just how significantly the Treaty Education Initiative (TEI) would help build bridges and begin to reshape attitudes among students," says the head of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. "But that's exactly what students and teachers alike are reporting." Since its inception, the TEI is now voluntarily taught by more than 100 teachers in 64 Manitoba elementary schools. The second phase of the pilot -- aimed at K-4 students -- is rolling out this fall, to be followed by a Grade 7-12 pilot in 2013. If all goes as planned, the TEI will be offered across all of Manitoba in 2014. TRCM News Release

Aboriginal students a priority in Lakehead draft SMA

Currently, Lakehead University has approximately 1,150 Aboriginal students, representing 11% of its enrolment -- one of the highest proportions of Aboriginal student enrolments at a Canadian university. In its proposed strategic mandate agreement (SMA) submitted to the Ontario government, Lakehead says it "will continue to build its reputation as the university of choice for Aboriginal students through a community-centred, shared learning approach." The document mentions creating a gathering place at the Thunder Bay campus to provide academic support and spiritual, elder, and social space for Aboriginal students. Lakehead says the Gichi Kendaasiwin Centre will allow Aboriginal and campus communities to connect with each other while providing a number of programs and services to help with student retention. The university aims to increase Aboriginal enrolment by 15%. Other goals include increasing the year-one and year-two retention rate of college transfer and Aboriginal students to 85%, and increasing the 6-year graduation rate of these students to 70%. Lakehead News Release | Lakehead SMA

TDSB commemorates Aboriginal Education Month

November is Aboriginal Education Month at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). This year's theme is "Aboriginal Presence in the War of 1812." During this month, the school board's Aboriginal Education team will host and present various events throughout the system. Individual schools will also conduct their own school-wide and classroom activities. "The history of Canada begins with Aboriginal peoples," says the TDSB's central coordinating Principal of Aboriginal education. "By commemorating Aboriginal Education Month, we respect the enduring place that First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples hold in contemporary Canadian society." TDSB News

New school opens in NB First Nations community

On November 7, New Brunswick's Esgenoôpetitj First Nation celebrated the official opening of a new school in its community. The K-8 school has 2 kindergarten classes, 9 regular classrooms, and features a library and resource centre, an auditorium/gymnasium, computer room, science room, health room, and a cafeteria. Aboriginal Affairs invested $9.4 million in the construction of the new school, which replaces one that was lost in a fire in June 2009. Aboriginal Affairs News Release | AFN News

Enbridge donation supports BrandonU Dakota Language Program

On October 26, Brandon University held a celebration for the 2 student recipients of the institution's newly-established Enbridge Dakota Language Scholarship. The event marked the beginning of a 3-year partnership with Enbridge in support of the Dakota Language. Committing $60,000 to Brandon U, Enbridge is the direct funder of the Dakota Language Program in the university's Native Studies Department, and supports 2 annual student scholarships valued at $2,500 each. "The Brandon University community warmly appreciates Enbridge's support for the teaching of the Dakota language," says the university's Arts Dean. "We are committed to the preservation of Aboriginal languages, and we are working with elders, the Southern Chiefs, and Manitoba First Nations Educational Resource Centre to train a new generation of Aboriginal learners who can teach languages in an immersion setting in First Nations' communities. Enbridge's support enables us to realize this goal." BrandonU News Release