Indigenous Top Ten

April 10, 2013

Saskatchewan lobbies Ottawa for equitable on-reserve school funding

The Saskatchewan government is lobbying Ottawa on behalf of First Nations, who are calling on the federal government to provide equitable funding for on-reserve schools. "We as a province take issue with the funding disparity very seriously," says Saskatchewan Education Minister Russ Marchuk. "We know that there is a disparity; it has impacts at the school level. Things like resources and supports for special needs children and supports for teachers in the classroom are sometimes affected when those funds aren't available." News of the province's lobbying efforts follows the release of a study of Saskatchewan education funding reporting that on-reserve schools receive 40% to 50% less funding than do off-reserve schools. The federal funding regime provides $50 per student per year for instructional resources, while the provincial funding model provides, for example, $668 per student in Living Sky School Division, says the author of the study. The study was commissioned by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. FSIN vice-chief Simon Bird says it is time for Ottawa to address chronic underfunding for First Nations schools. The report recommends that the federal government consult more with First Nations before making changes to legislation that affects Aboriginal education. FSIN News Release | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (March 26) | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (March 28) | CBC Canadian Press

New videos promote Maliseet language, culture in NB

New videos to promote and preserve the use of the Maliseet language in New Brunswick were launched last month in Fredericton by community members from the Tobique First Nation. The short videos feature elders speaking to youth in various social settings and locations with the aim of reducing the significant decline in Maliseet fluency and cultural knowledge among First Nations people in New Brunswick. The Maliseet Language Preservation and Restoration program is designed to help First Nations youth improve their academic performance through a better understanding of their culture and heritage and an overall increase in the pride they have in their roots. NB News Release

Western U Indigenous Health and Well-Being Initiative Summer School accepting applications

Western University’s Indigenous Health and Well-Being Initiative 2013 Summer School is now accepting applications from full-time graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are currently studying topics related to Indigenous health and well-being. This year’s Summer School, which runs from June 8 to 11, will focus on ensuring that evidence collected through community-based research is used to make real, lasting differences in Indigenous communities. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with Canada’s leading researchers and policymakers and the Summer School will act as a platform for students to forge lasting collaborative networks for their later careers. A limited number of spaces are available (20) for this Summer School and applications are due by May 17, 2013. IHWI website

Aboriginal high school graduation rates reach 70% in Grande Yellowhead, Alberta

Aboriginal high school students in Grande Yellowhead, Alberta, were nearly twice as likely to graduate last year compared to the provincial average. The province’s education manager, Paul Macleod, wrote a letter last month to the superintendent of the Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD) commending their work with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students. Macleod’s comments refer to the school division’s 2011/2012 Annual Education Results Report, which found that the 3-year (grades 10-12) high school completion average for Aboriginal students rose to 70% last year, compared to about 50% in 2010/2011. Alberta’s overall 3-year completion rate for Aboriginal students is 40%, which has increased only slightly from 36% in 2010. Among the list of accomplishments noted in the yearly report is the work done by staff to share cultural traditions, games and activities within the schools, and its efforts to develop a "sense of belonging" for GYPSD Aboriginal youth. Hinton Parklander

uRegina opens expanded Aboriginal Student Centre

Hundreds of people turned out for the official opening last week of the University of Regina’s Aboriginal Student Centre. The celebration included a drum group, and speeches from civic and provincial politicians, the chair of the Indigenous Students’ Association and uRegina president Vianne Timmons. The official mission of the expanded facility is to encourage, empower and educate by assisting students to strengthen and realize their potential. Open to all, the expanded facility is a place where students can visit, relax, read or study. The centre also provides access to computers, phones, faxing and printing. "By expanding the Centre, we are continuing our commitment to indigenizing our campus, and are helping all students—Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike—develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that is so important in a province as diverse as Saskatchewan,” said Timmons. uRegina News

First Nation Education Act will be federally imposed without adequate consultation, fear First Nations leaders

The First Nation Education Act to be passed by September 2014 is shaping up to be the next jurisdictional battleground with the federal government for First Nations leaders who fear it will be federally imposed without adequate consultation. Some, like the Chiefs of Ontario, are walking away from the negotiating table. The consultation process on the new legislation began last year and has included 5 meetings in cities across the country, with 2 more scheduled this month. In addition, all 630-plus First Nations communities were invited to provide their input through a department website dedicated to the development of the Act. But some chiefs say meetings with a select few people (up to 30 per session) don't give Indigenous peoples enough say in developing their own education system, and they worry the government will not take various First Nations' diverse needs into account. "The government is doing a one-size-fits-all Education Act, which absolutely is not working," said Morley Goo-goo, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. "At the end of the day, it's an education system designed for us, not by us." Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Inuit organization seeks solutions to low high school graduation rates

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization, has commenced a campaign to come up with solutions to address the low high school graduation rate in Inuit communities. “The drop-out rate is very high in Inuit Nunangat, and we’re trying to figure out ways of increasing the level of graduation from high school, so that they have a chance to go (to) post-secondary education,” said Mary Simon, chair of ITK’s National Committee on Inuit Education. Inuit Nunangat refers to the communities of Nunavut, Nunavik in Quebec, Nunatsiavut in Labrador and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories. The committee’s research shows that students are missing an average of 41 days of school each year. That adds up to 2 full years by the time students reach high school, and the committee says attendance is dropping. CBC

Northern College celebrates new campus tipi

Northern College recently welcomed students, staff and members of the community to celebrate the grand opening of its new, permanent 700-square foot tipi at the Porcupine Campus. Designed in the likeness of a traditional tipi, the structure will play host to community, cultural and educational activities and be accessible to all those with an interest in learning more about the cultural values and traditions of Aboriginal peoples. The tipi is temperature controlled, ventilated, and connected to the college to enable year-round use. It aims to provide an environment to meet the needs of cultural, community, and educational activities such as smudging, Aboriginal teachings, traditional ceremonies, as well as classes, seminars and meetings with Aboriginal content. It will also be used by faculty, aligning with traditional methods of learning such as storytelling and learning circles. The tipi is a visible embodiment of one of the college’s strategic directions, Aboriginal Perspectives. Northern College News

Details unveiled for new First Nations student centre at Thunder Bay high school

Thunder Bay-based Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School has released more details of its plans for a Student Living Centre to accommodate youth coming from remote First Nations communities. The centre will be built on Confederation College grounds, at a 6-acre site not far from the high school. The centre will include accommodation for 150 students, as well as space for 50 families so they can visit and support students when needed. Transportation to the school will be provided. Officials say there will also be curfews and security features. CBC

$11 million for Aboriginal learner programs in BC

The BC government announced last month nearly $11 million in investments to support 2 programs for Aboriginal learners in the province. First announced last June, the Aboriginal Community-based Delivery Partnerships Program is a 2-year initiative that encourages education partnerships between public PSE institutions and Aboriginal institutes and communities. Funding includes $7 million in provincial and Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement funding, along with $2 million from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's Active Measures Program. 31 partnerships deliver programs for Aboriginal learners across BC in a wide range of specializations, from skills training for employment in the oil and natural gas sector to training that leads to certification as a teacher of Indigenous languages. An additional $1.9-million for BC's Aboriginal Training for Employment Program will provide funding for 14 programs with Aboriginal-controlled organizations and service providers to deliver job-related training in essential skills and introductory trades training, as well as mentoring, coaching, and support for students. BC News Release