Indigenous Top Ten

November 28, 2012

BC launches emergency fund to support Aboriginal PSE students in crisis

Aboriginal PSE students in BC who experience a short-term financial crisis will now have access to provincial emergency relief while they are attending school. The $2-million Aboriginal Emergency Assistance fund is part of the BC government's commitment to improve PSE opportunities for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples through the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan. The emergency fund was established when results from the University of Victoria's LE,NONET Project observed that access to emergency funds can help Aboriginal students stay in school and finish their studies. BC News Release

Chief Atahm School passes tradition on to next generation

Celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, BC's Chief Atahm School is one of the handful of specialty schools for First Nations students in the province, as well as BC's oldest language and immersion program. Chief Atahm students are instructed in Secwepemctsin and teachers do not instruct in English until Grade 4. Students read books written in or translated into Secwepemctsin by school staff. Chief Atahm's principal says the school's traditional approach prepares its students academically, while also instilling a sense of pride in their Aboriginal identity. "There are some people who don't like the school ... like how will deer skinning or studying Secwepemctsin help them get a job," the principal says. "But the kids have confidence in who they are ... so when they go to high school or university, they do well." Toronto Star

Profs decry cuts to First Nations

More than 100 academics from universities across the country have sent the federal Aboriginal Affairs minister a scathing letter outlining concerns over funding disparities in First Nations education and health and denouncing "unprecedentedly deep funding cuts for Canada's Aboriginal representative organizations." The letter states that the minister should recognize that the cuts will also affect research on crucial issues that depend on effective partnerships between academics and experts in Aboriginal communities. "Canada cannot afford to wait another generation for solid research on urgent issues," said the letter. "We urge you to rethink these ill-advised cuts to organizations that have been doing excellent work in their communities that benefits Canada as a whole." Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Training at Queen's fosters better understanding of Aboriginal culture

Academic programs and campus groups at Queen's University are integrating Aboriginal cultural sensitivity training into their curriculum and outreach activities. Created by Anishnawbe Health Toronto as a 3-year pilot project, "the training encourages participants to be more open-minded and do some self-reflection to understand that cultural values and norms of Aboriginal people may be different because of unique socio-political histories," says a Queen's Aboriginal student success strategist. "At Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, it is our hope that by offering this training, students, faculty and staff have more awareness of the impact colonial policies, both past and present, have on Indigenous people." Queen's News Centre

AFN runs student video contest

The Assembly of First Nations is inviting First Nations students in elementary and secondary school to participate in a video contest telling the AFN about their school. Participants are encouraged to share what they like about their school, how it is making a difference in their life, and how they would change their school to make it even better. All students taking part in the contest will have the chance to win a school visit by National Chief Shawn Atleo. A winner will be chosen at random through a lottery held for contestants. Atleo will visit the winner's school before the end of the 2013 school year. The contest runs until February 28, 2013, and the videos will be posted on AFN's website and Facebook page. AFN News

Aid agencies to help launch Aboriginal trade school in Thunder Bay

HopeLink and Schools for Children of the World are stepping up to improve First Nations education in northwestern Ontario by helping establish an Aboriginal trade school in Thunder Bay. Representatives from the 2 international aid agencies were among a planning group of 30 people who gathered November 16 to discuss an alternative to federal funding to finance a trade school. Currently, 70% of First Nations students on reserve do not complete secondary school. Chiefs and educators hope the option of a trades-oriented education will give students the motivation they need to get a diploma. "That will be another lifeline for our young people," says Nishnawbe Aski Nation's deputy grand chief, who brought together the planning group. "[Students will say] 'there is hope, I can work as a brick layer or work in the mining sector.'" CBC

Report calls for education reform in Nunavut

In its 2010-11 Annual Report on the State of Inuit Culture and Society, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) takes aim at the federal and territorial government educational policies that it argues breach the human rights of Nunavut children and put the future of the Inuit culture, language, and people in peril. In its report, NTI states that "formal schooling has, from its inception, formed an integral part of an assault by Euro-Canadians and their culture on Inuit culture and society." The organization says education has remained a "flashpoint of contention and mistrust between Inuit parents, communities and the government that has serious health implications for Inuit children and youth." NTI calls on the Nunavut government to reform the Nunavut Education Act by working in equal partnership with NTI and regional Inuit organizations. It also recommends that Ottawa work with the territory to fully finance the development and implementation of a full bilingual K-12 education system. NTI News Release | Nunatsiaq News | Report

UBC Education graduates largest class of Aboriginal PhD students

11 Aboriginal PhD students will graduate from UBC's Faculty of Education this year—the largest number to graduate from a Canadian university education faculty in one year. The graduates pursued research in areas where there has been little or no research: Indigenous language learning, leadership in PSE, intergenerational learning, Aboriginal children in care, prison education, and Aboriginal family violence, intervention, and healing. Including this year's graduating class, 43 Aboriginal PhD students have graduated from UBC's education faculty in the past 20 years. UBC News Release

First Nations in Alberta allowed to be appointed school trustees without vote

Citing a need to improve the voice of First Nations parents, the Alberta government has quietly added a provision to its Education Act that allows appointments—rather than election—of school board trustees from select communities. The provision applies only to boards that have a tuition agreement in place with a neighbouring First Nations reserve. For example, the Calgary Board of Education would be eligible, as children from Tsuu T'ina learn at city schools. But the Alberta School Boards Association's president says the new provisions outlined in the act, which could become law as early as late 2014, would likely first be used by certain rural school boards in the province that have agreements in place with multiple First Nations bands. Metro Calgary

Teen sisters team up with Halton school boards to improve literacy among First Nations youth

Established earlier this year, Books with no Bounds provides children's books and adolescent novels to First Nations communities. The organization's founders—15-year-old Julia Mogus and her 14-year-old sister Emma—are working with 150 schools across Ontario's Halton region to help enhance the educational experience of Aboriginal youth. The sisters' partnership with Halton's public and Catholic school boards is intended to foster a relationship between local students and the young people of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a group of 49 First Nation communities in northern Ontario. The Mogus sisters say the partnering Halton schools will organize in-school book drives and help them fundraise for shipping. The girls recently shipped 6,000 books to 24 fly-in-only communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. "On behalf of the children in the North, my heart is warmed," says Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy about the book shipment. North Oakville Today | Books with no Bounds