Indigenous Top Ten

February 13, 2013

OSSTF publishes Indigenous curriculum resources

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) recently released a comprehensive resource document that addresses a current shortage of teaching materials focused on the history, culture, and issues facing First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. The curriculum resource features more than 60 classroom-ready lesson plans using a holistic teaching approach that honours traditional knowledge and Aboriginal values. An accompanying video profiles 3 First Nations youth, two Inuit teens, and one young Métis woman. Each story provides insight into what it means to be young and Aboriginal in Canada today. This resource is the latest in a series of 5 Common Threads resources produced by OSSTF members. Each one explores an important topic of social justice and is cross-curricular in nature. OSSTF News Release

Amaujaq National Centre for Inuit Education opens

The Amaujaq Centre for Inuit Education formally opened February 5 during a celebratory event at the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Training Program in Ottawa. The centre will coordinate the implementation of the recommendations of "First Canadians, Canadians First: The National Strategy on Inuit Education," launched in June 2011. Crossing geopolitical borders, the centre will bring together public governments and institutions with a responsibility for delivering education to Inuit, and organizations tasked with advocating for improvement of Inuit well-being. Priority initiatives include mobilizing parents, investing in the early years, measuring and assessing success, and exploring the introduction of a standardized Inuit language writing system. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami News Release

BC discussion paper calls for greater integration of Aboriginal perspectives in K-12

In a recently released discussion paper, BC's Ministry of Education calls for greater integration of Aboriginal perspectives in all K-12 classes, in accordance with a recommendation from the BC Teachers' Federation. "The integration of aboriginal perspectives and knowledge in the curriculum serves as an important step to begin to address misunderstanding of aboriginal cultures," the ministry says in the paper. "With a more in-depth knowledge of aboriginal people and their history, all students in British Columbia will have a foundation for developing mutual understanding and respect." Vancouver Sun | Transforming BC's Curriculum

Alberta asked to assist with First Nations school funding

The Alberta government has said it will not commit to helping with the extra costs First Nations bear to send students to off-reserve schools. While on-reserve schools receive federal funding, when a parent wishes to send a child to an off-reserve school the First Nations ends up paying the difference. One chief has said that this can amount to as much as $3,000. Alberta Aboriginal Relations Minister Robin Campbell says he is discussing this gap and other issues with Ottawa. “It's not that the province can't fund it," he says. "It's the fact that the federal government has obligations under their treaty arrangements with the First Nations." Campbell says he is also trying to gather more information as he has been given conflicting accounts about the size of the gap. But Cameron Alexis, regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called on the provincial government to take action now. CBC

Aboriginal Affairs minister touts educational standards for Indigenous students

In an interview with Postmedia News, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan confirmed that the Harper government plans to move ahead with passing legislation focused on First Nations education. Duncan said the forthcoming legislation is a centrepiece of the government's agenda for improving the lives of Canada's First Nations people, and that it will provide better educational standards for Aboriginal children in on-reserve schools across Canada. "I think everybody recognizes that education is crucial (and) critical," he said. "We have complete government buy-in that we have to deal with this." An expert panel appointed by the minister and a Senate committee have prepared reports calling for better funding and a law to enshrine certain principles of learning and standards. But Aboriginal leaders, who also recognize the importance of education are worried the government will unilaterally draft legislation without their input. Duncan insists there will be widespread consultation—some of which has already started—with parents, educators, and Aboriginal leaders before legislation is introduced in the House of Commons. Postmedia News

McMaster student union issues policy paper on Indigenous students

McMaster University's student union has prepared a new policy paper on the issues facing Aboriginal Students in PSE. Prepared in conjunction with the Indigenous Studies Program, and based on data collected from focus groups held through the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the paper offers 12 recommendations. Among the recommendations is the need for Ontario to heighten awareness of its provincial funding programs and expand the Aboriginal Bursary Program to make it more accessible. The report also calls for the removal of the federal cap on funding of the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which has been capped at an annual 2% increase since 1996, as it does not reflect the growing Aboriginal youth population and is not set to inflation. The paper also emphasizes the need for more resources for Aboriginal students, better consideration of Aboriginal perspectives in curriculum development, and a more comprehensive approach to the inclusion of Aboriginal knowledge in PSE curriculum. The Silhouette (student newspaper) | Policy Paper

uManitoba Aboriginal student recruitment officer receives Future Leaders of Manitoba Award

Christine Cyr was recently awarded the 2013 Future Leaders of Manitoba Award for Community Service for her work in Aboriginal recruitment at the University of Manitoba and for her work in Career Trek, Southeast Child and Family Services, The United Way, and other boards and committees. The Future Leaders of Manitoba Council is a group of young professional Manitobans who believe that the future of the province relies on the ability to encourage and attract exceptional young people to live, work, and thrive in Manitoba. uManitoba News

WTC program helps Aboriginal high school students gain trades experience

Under a partnership between Winnipeg Technical College (WTC) and Southeast Collegiate (SEC), Aboriginal secondary students can start developing employability skills before they even graduate. Launched in 2011, the Aboriginal Trades Training Internship Program gives Grade 11 and 12 students of Aboriginal descent the opportunity to explore and sample trades-related programs at WTC. Over the course of 34 weeks, 16 students, split into 2 cohorts, cycle through 2 separate clusters of hands-on project-based instruction. In the Industrial cluster, students learn skills and complete projects in the areas of Industrial Welding, Motosport Technician, Carpentry, Electricity/Electronics, and Industrial Millwright. Students in the Human Services cluster complete projects in Culinary Arts & Design, Hotel & Hospitality Services, Hairstyling, Microcomputer Systems, Production Arts, and Pharmacy Technician. The program has been nothing but positive, says SEC's principal. "Essentially this is exactly the outcome that this program was designed to fulfill: to encourage students to continue with higher education as they are capable of realizing their dreams." WTC News

Capilano U opens Aboriginal Student Centre

February 1 marked the official opening of Capilano University's Aboriginal Student Centre. Kéxwusm-áyakn (A Place to Meet) -- the Squamish Nation name given to the centre -- provides a welcoming, multi-purpose space for students to meet, study, share meals, collaborate, and learn from each other and First Nations elders. The BC government invested $600,000 in the centre, which provides a community hub used by Capilano U's First Nations Student Services department advisors, faculty, staff, students, and the institution's Aboriginal community. The centre features a kitchenette, computer work stations with Internet access, and a lounge area with video screens. BC News Release

Emphasis on education distracts from policies that could have wider impact, says Western U prof

Western University professor Peter Fragiskatos questions whether the introduction of the First Nations Education Act later this year is the most effective way to address the problems facing Canada's First Nations communities. While an emphasis on education is important, he argues, it ultimately distracts from policies that could have a much wider and lasting impact. What would prove more promising, says Fragiskatos, are policies that aid existing or would-be First Nations entrepreneurs by providing small loans on the model of microcredit lending programs undertaken in the Third World and, increasingly, in richer countries such as the US. Microcredit would prove effective for First Nations as many do not have the savings nor the collateral required to secure a loan from a bank or government programs such as Aboriginal Business Canada. Globe and Mail