Indigenous Top Ten

December 12, 2012

Ottawa launches consultations for development of First Nation Education Act

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan announced yesterday the start of the federal government's intensive consultations with First Nations on the development of a First Nation Education Act. The consultation process entails 2 key stages: first, between December 2012 and April 2013, First Nation parents, educators, leaders, and others are invited to take part in regional consultation sessions and to explore Aboriginal Affairs' website, where information about First Nations education can be found, as well as opportunities to provide input for consideration in the drafting of the legislation. During the second phase, the draft legislation will be shared with all First Nations communities across the country, as well as with provincial governments and other stakeholders, for feedback. The launch of consultations follows a meeting Duncan had last Thursday with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, AFN Regional Chief Morley Googoo, and other members of the Chiefs Committee on Education. The minister told the chiefs he had a cabinet mandate directing him to proceed and start consultation on new legislation governing First Nation education. The chiefs told Duncan that issues of treaty rights and funding need to be addressed. Aboriginal Affairs News Release | Communiqué from National Chief Shawn Atleo | AFN News Release | Minister Statement | APTN

Saskatchewan joint task force releases interim report

Improving education outcomes for First Nations and Métis children in Saskatchewan depends on equal funding as well as innovative approaches, according to a task force on First Nations and Métis education and employment. In its interim report released Monday, the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis People cited the funding gap between First Nations schools and Saskatchewan schools as one of the central issues they have heard so far. But money is not the only issue, the task force members say. Improving education will need new approaches and also political will from those involved to execute strategies that have proven successful on a smaller scale. The interim report does not provide concrete recommendations. Those will be compiled and released in May 2013 in the task force's final report. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Ottawa prepared to release millions of records on residential schools

On December 3, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said the federal government will release millions of files documenting the abuses committed at residential schools. His statement comes as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) prepares to take Ottawa to court on December 20 to gain access to the files. Although the government has released 937,000 documents to the TRC, millions of records are still sitting in archives across Canada. The TRC says it wants the remaining documents in order to fulfil its mandate. A spokesperson for the minister says the millions of remaining files will now be available by late June 2013. "This is a court-supervised process, it involves the churches, all of the other stakeholders and it involves 22 other governmental departments," the spokesperson says. "We remain committed to bringing closure to the legacy of residential schools." | Globe and Mail

AUCC urges Ottawa to fund Indspire scholarship proposal

In its pre-budget submission to the federal government, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada notes that the impact of a longstanding cap on existing federal funding mechanisms has created a funding gap for Aboriginal PSE that was estimated to be in excess of $300 million in 2008-09. Organizations such as Indspire, which distributes scholarships and recognizes Indigenous achievers, are making a real difference to Aboriginal education, the submission states. AUCC supports Indspire's proposal to seek an immediate commitment of $20 million from the federal government for PSE scholarships for Aboriginal students, to be matched by the private sector, with an extra $30 million to be matched by the private sector after the first $20 million has been raised. University Affairs | Pre-Budget Submission

IEC receives funding to support STEM education for Aboriginal students

The Indigenous Education Coalition (IEC) is receiving up to $585,200 through FedDev Ontario's Youth STEM initiative to expand its youth outreach programs. The programs aim to encourage First Nations and other Aboriginal students in Grades 4 to 8 to pursue studies in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). IEC is working with scientists from Western University, as well as local businesses, to provide students with educational and hands-on learning opportunities. IEC is also partnering with Apple Canada and IBM to offer students the opportunity to learn how to design Web applications and websites that will promote environmental awareness. FedDev News Release

Improving Inuit education discussed at Iqaluit conference

More than 125 educators and officials from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Norway gathered in Iqaluit late last month at the Circumpolar Conference on Education for Indigenous People. Co-hosted by the Nunavut and Greenland governments, the conference included a presentation by Mary Simon, former president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, on the 5-year research study titled "First Canadians, Canadians First: the National Strategy on Inuit Education." Attendance is one of the biggest challenges for Inuit education, said Simon. The average Aboriginal student misses more than 41 school days each year, which is equivalent to missing 2 full years of school by the time a student reaches secondary school, said Simon. To address this poor attendance record, Simon said Inuit need to stop blaming parents and demonstrate the value of education through a media campaign. This includes using social media, videos, TV, radio, news feeds, and Inuit leaders to spread messages about the importance of showing up to school well rested and well fed. Nunatsiaq News

Plans unveiled for First Nations student living centre in Thunder Bay

The Wasaya Group has revealed its plans for a new student living centre in Thunder Bay to house students from First Nations communities who are attending Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School. Estimated to cost approximately $15 million to build, the Dennis Franklin Cromarty Living Centre will be located close to the secondary school and accommodate 150 students in double rooms. The centre will have 24-hour security, recreation facilities, and support services, including on-site counselling. The Wasaya Group hopes construction of the centre can start next year so that it can open its doors to students in 2015. The company is calling on the public for support. CBC

Language Nest approach to be used to teach Indigenous languages to Yukon children

Aboriginal language teachers in the Yukon will soon have a new method to teach children Indigenous languages. The method is called the Language Nest program, and the Council of Yukon First Nations held workshops late last month to explain the concept. The program has been successful in reviving languages in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, along with other parts of Canada. Under the program, fluent speakers become involved in early childhood education, creating immersion-style learning for children ages one to 4. The Yukon First Nations Self-Government Secretariat hopes to identify master speakers and prospective apprentices who will eventually work with children from preschool and through their school years. CBC

uSask working to verify Aboriginal enrolment figures

The fall enrolment census at the University of Saskatchewan indicated Aboriginal undergraduate and graduate student numbers are down 8.9% and 8%, respectively, from the previous year, "but official statistics and anecdotal statistics often don't match up," says the university registrar. He and a number of others at uSask are working to understand what students view as a self-declaration of Aboriginal ancestry, to encourage students to self-declare, and to determine how to gather that data from across campus. The importance of accurate enrolment numbers is twofold, the registrar says. First, uSask "wants to be able to say we're a destination of choice for Aboriginal students," a claim that needs to supported by data. "Also, having the right data goes hand in hand with having the right supports and services." The working group plans to revise language on admission forms and in the campus portal to explain why uSask is collecting self-declaration information. There will also be a campaign launched before the next census day in February to educate Aboriginal students about the value of self-declaring, but the registrar stresses it is strictly voluntary. uSask On Campus News (page 1 and 2 of PDF)

Pan-northern study to explore gender gaps in employment, education

The Nunavut Literacy Council has launched a pan-northern study to find out why Inuit women outnumber men in government jobs and in higher education enrolment. Titled the Northern Men's Research Project, the 3-year initiative also strives to discover what can be done to encourage more men to participate in formal education and in the workforce. The project will also involve literacy groups in Labrador, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon. Interviewing will soon be underway, and the results should be released in about 2 years. CBC