Indigenous Top Ten

March 13, 2013

Report offers recommendations to improve early childhood education for First Nations children

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has released the second in a series of reports on improving educational outcomes for First Nations. This report focuses on early childhood education, noting challenges such as inadequate funding and infrastructure, the lack of highly trained staff, and the difficulty of integrating services to improve early assessment and intervention. The report offers several recommendations to improve early learning outcomes for First Nations children. These include identifying the cultural, linguistic, and developmental needs of children at the community level; developing an inter-agency, community-wide model for early childhood programs; and ensuring that funding is adequate, sustainable, and universally accessible. Saskatoon StarPhoenix |Report

Manitoba chiefs boycott First Nations education reform discussions

Manitoba chiefs have rejected the federal government's vision for Aboriginal education, claiming Ottawa is trying to "bypass" First Nations chiefs and shirk its treaty responsibilities. The First Nations group is the latest to criticize the consultations over the First Nations Education Act, which have been mired in boycotts and protests since they started in January. In a letter to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it will not participate in this week's consultations in Winnipeg. "Any manufactured consent from this coercive exercise will be considered invalid to many Treaty people," wrote Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, who represents 60 Manitoba communities. Grand Chief Murray Clearsky, who represents 33 southern Manitoba chiefs, sent a letter Monday to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt saying he would attend the meeting but only as an observer and that any future assertion he was consulted would be "vigorously refuted and legally challenged." An Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson says Ottawa will go ahead with its planned consultations and "looks forward to continuing our ongoing dialogue." Globe and Mail

Alternative Federal Budget proposes $800 million annual investment in First Nations education

In its 2013 Alternative Federal Budget, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives notes that the total shortfall in the area of First Nations education is an estimated $3 billion. For example, to equitably fund First Nations higher education, a 149% -- or $481 million -- increase in federal support in required. $126 million is needed for First Nations language instruction in schools in order to be comparable with provincial funding. The AFB proposes an investment of $800 million per year in First Nations education systems. This would slowly bridge the $3-billion gap built up since 1996. CCPA News Release | Alternative Federal Budget 2013

Protest in Prince Albert over First Nations Education Act plans

More than 300 people walked in protest in Prince Albert last week to express their objection to a federal plan to legislate education on First Nations reserves in Canada. The group, including elders, community leaders, and young students from First Nations communities around Prince Albert, marched last Friday to the local Aboriginal Affairs office to protest the First Nations Education Act. The act, which is slated to be implemented in fall 2014, focuses on improving education and graduation rates among First Nations students throughout the country. The protest's organizer says the act will not help First Nations students get a better education. She says First Nations education should be better funded and students should be able to learn about their culture and history. Regina Leader-Post

Nunavut developing alternative high school diploma equivalent

Nunavut Premier and Education Minister Eva Aariak says that the territory's education department is developing a new method for adults to obtain a Nunavut Secondary School diploma that will be called the Pathway to Adult Secondary School Graduation (PASS). There is a shortage of skilled workers in Nunavut, says Aariak. PASS "will make a lasting contribution to our efforts to reduce poverty. It will qualify more Nunavummiut for jobs in our public service so that we achieve our land claim commitments on Inuit employment. And it will strengthen our made-in-Nunavut workforce so we can build a strong economy and prosperity for future generations of Nunavummiut." She says that PASS will be "a process that will be unique to every individual." Depending on a person's background and experiences, the diploma may recognize prior learning, literacy training, adult basic education, and the completion of high school courses. Nunatsiaq Online

Policy will allow kullik-burning and smudging on MUN campus

Memorial University is in the process of approving a policy that would allow the practices of kullik-burning and smudging on campus. While smudging policies have been adopted at other universities across Canada, upon approval MUN will be the first university in Canada to have a kullik-burning policy. Kullik-burning is an Inuit tradition that involves the burning of oil in a soapstone lamp. The proposed policy will allow kullik-burning and smudging at permanent, designated sites on campus, as well as at other sites, provided they have been properly reviewed. "The problem we have is that a lot of students on campus aren't really aware of the Aboriginal presence on campus," says the student union's Aboriginal representative. "A part of having this policy in place will be to start that dialogue between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students to get that communication going and so people can learn about our cultures and traditions." MUN has between 700 and 800 self-identified Indigenous students. The Muse (student newspaper)

Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance formed

Matawa First Nations Management's Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services, Noront Resources Ltd., and Confederation College have signed an MOU to create the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance. The MOU reinforces a commitment to work collaboratively to expand opportunities for the development of a highly skilled Aboriginal workforce for mining activity with Noront Resources' Eagles Nest project in the Ring of Fire. Confederation College is the education partner and will offer access to programming, providing students with the education and training to meet the needs of industry. The MOU will remain in place for a minimum 5-year period. Confederation College News Release

Cape Breton First Nations communities sign apprenticeship agreement

All 5 First Nations communities in Cape Breton have signed Nova Scotia's joint apprenticeship agreement and will work together to make sure more local Mi'kmaq complete provincial apprenticeship programs. "Embracing this co-operative approach will see more Mi'kmaq people working on major construction projects within First Nation communities," says Chief Terry Paul of Membertou. "But more importantly, this strategy will open doors for our people to build capacity to contribute productively to the growth of their communities." Cape Breton Post

First Nations students in Sooke School District lead BC in graduation rate

With a graduation rate of approximately 62%, First Nations students in BC's Sooke School District fare better than those in every other school district in the province. There are more than 900 Aboriginal students enrolled in the district, representing about 10% of the student population. These students are primarily from the Scia'new, Pacheedaht and T'Sou-ke Nations, with others identifying themselves at M├ętis or Inuit. The curriculum is designed to foster a strong sense of pride in students, build their confidence, and instil knowledge of their heritage. The students' success is a reflection of the community behind them, says the principal for Aboriginal education in the Sooke School District. Victoria Times-Colonist

Sault College offering training on reserves

Residents of First Nations communities along the North Shore of Lake Huron are receiving training for employment readiness in the renewable energy field, all while staying in the home communities. Over the past year, Sault College has facilitated on-reserve training at Batchewana, Garden River, M'Chigeeng, and Aundeck Omni First Nations. A Sault College official says the institution anticipated an industry need, but also recognized that the Aboriginal demographic is the fastest growing population in Canada, and in the North Shore area there are a number of people who are ready to enter the workforce or pursue PSE. "Consulting with the First Nations and with our partners, there was an identified need for training in this area," the official says, noting Sault College has pinpointed Ab­original education as a priority. "So it was really a matter of working closely to re­ally design the program to meet the needs of our potential students with the hopes that we increase Aboriginal representa­tion in the fields themselves." Northern Ontario Business