Indigenous Top Ten

April 24, 2013

Saskatchewan task force releases report on how to improve First Nations and Métis education & employment outcomes

Last week the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis People released their final report, Voice, Vision and Leadership: A Place for All. The joint project between the provincial government and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations makes 25 recommendations, among them that the province proclaim First Nations and Métis languages as the original languages of Saskatchewan. It also recommends the vast expansion of early childhood intervention programs for Aboriginal children both on and off-reserve; provincial funding of what were traditionally federal responsibilities, such as on-reserve school driver training or subsidies for reserve students wanting to attend provincial schools; eliminating the one-year mandatory wait time for high school dropouts to access adult education programs; better alignment between Saskatchewan employers and PSE institutions, particularly for First Nations and Métis students and streamlining the process which matches aboriginal PSE graduates with employers. In preparing the report, the task force travelled to 16 communities and held 83 individual and public consultations with over 1,000 people. Saskatchewan News | Leader-Post | Saskatoon StarPhoenix | CBC | Newstalk 650 | Joint Task Force

Yukon First Nations curriculum to be mandatory in all Grade 5 classrooms

Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, Yukon First Nations social studies material will become mandatory curriculum for all Grade 5 students in the territory. “Incorporating Yukon-based materials into curriculum is essential to ensuring that all students learn about local First Nations’ history, language and cultural traditions,” said Education Minister Scott Kent. The units and supporting resources, which include student booklets and instructor’s guides, teach about Yukon First Nations in a pre-contact setting, specifically focusing on languages, clans, citizenship and traditional governance. Before implementing the units in the upcoming school year, Yukon Education will offer Grade 5 teachers professional development training this summer. The department’s curriculum consultants and First Nations Programs and Partnerships staff will be available to support teachers in delivering these resources throughout the year. Yukon News

Ontario, federal government and Nishnawbe Aski Nation sign historic agreement to improve education outcomes for First Nation students

On April 9, The Government of Canada, The Province of Ontario, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) signed an historic MOU on First Nations education. The focus of the agreement is to work collaboratively to improve educational outcomes for NAN students while also giving the communities a larger say in the schooling of its approximately 7,000 students. “This MOU recognizes the authority and autonomy of NAN First Nations and reflects the original spirit and intent of the Treaties, which is Indian control of Indian Education,” said NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno. “By working collaboratively we will be better able to prepare our students with the self-confidence and educational opportunities they need to reach their educational goals and achieve their full potential.” While First Nations teachers, support staff and parents will have greater input in curriculum development and a larger presence in schools, the MOU will also prioritize support services for students living away from home. This is the first tripartite education agreement to be signed in Ontario. Aboriginal Affairs News Release | CTV

uAlberta exhibit showcases first-year experiences of Aboriginal students

"Peanut Butter and Drymeat Sandwiches" is a new exhibit of visual art, reflective writing, poetry, video, and audio work that explores the first-year experience at the University of Alberta through the minds and hearts of Aboriginal students. The exhibit, which runs until May 15, caps off a class called "Indigenizing the Academy." Throughout the term, the class discussed uAlberta's hopes for its Aboriginal students and its commitment to creating space for them in its programs. One of the course's professors says she and her students hope that viewers come away from the exhibit with "a greater awareness of the experience Indigenous students have on campus—not only how diverse but also how challenging it can be. They hope that people remember the territory they are in, and that part of their work here is to have a relationship with Indigenous people." uAlberta News

First Nations rally against Education Act

At the Chiefs of Ontario Rally on April 11 in Thunder bay, about 50 people protested against the proposed federal First Nations Education Act outside a hotel where a meeting was taking place between First Nations representatives and officials from Aboriginal Affairs. Protestors expressed particular concern about a lack of consultation with their communities. "Basically consultation is being done after they drafted the legislation...they're doing it backwards," said one of the demonstrators. The rally was also focused on reaching out to share the concerns that First Nations communities face in the shortfall of funding for education. The Chiefs assert that the federal government talks about consultation, but then restricts the number of Chiefs who are allowed to attend. The message to Ottawa was simple. Aboriginal youth represent the fastest growing demographic in Canada. Continuing the status quo is going to result in Aboriginal youth continuing to be left behind as we are seeing today, according to several speakers. CBC | NetNewsLedger

Report identifies 10 ways to attract, retain more Aboriginal peoples in the work force

Aboriginals under the age of 30 are the fastest-growing segment of Canada’s workforce, and a new report, titled "Widening the Circle: Increasing Opportunities for Aboriginal People in the Workplace," concludes that companies need to change their hiring practices to boost job opportunities. The report from professional services firm Deloitte outlines 10 ways firms can re-examine hiring. “Widening the Circle: Increasing opportunities for Aboriginal people n the workplace” found that there needs to be a long-term commitment to building better relationships with Aboriginal people, including greater collaboration, training, accommodation and cultural understanding. The report comes on the heels of a series of roundtable sessions that were held in 9 cities across Canada last year, and offers 10 recommendations on how firms can increase opportunities for Aboriginal people in the workforce including partner with high schools, colleges and universities; provide students with internships to give them training and experience; question standard job requirements; review screening, hiring, and advancement practices to recognize unconventional talent and cultural differences; conduct company-wide cultural training; hire more than one Aboriginal person; promote Aboriginal people to senior roles; assess business and employment practices that could provide barriers to Aboriginal people; develop an Aboriginal hiring and retention strategy, and communicate and celebrate successes. Globe and Mail | Report

VCC, school board partner to help Aboriginal students succeed in school

On April 18, Vancouver Community College and the Vancouver School board signed a collaborative agreement to improve education and career opportunities for Aboriginal students. Highlights of the agreement include establishing initiatives to help Aboriginal students explore careers and plan for the future, exploring scholarships and grants that will make it easier for Aboriginal students to attend PSE, and developing and supporting innovative bridging programs that allow Aboriginal teenagers to access college programs and services. As a show of commitment to the agreement, VCC will offer one year of tuition-free studies to 5 Aboriginal high school students in Vancouver upon recommendation from the school board. VCC News

Aboriginal community forum says education key to success for youth

A new report from the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition presented at its second Aboriginal community forum in Ottawa on April 2 emphasizes that when it comes to success for urban Aboriginal communities, the focus must remain on the children. Education was identified as a priority by OAC and the urban Aboriginal steering committee, and in February of last year the group struck an ad hoc education committee to address the issue. The committee undertook a number of tasks during the past year, including building and hosting teacher cultural enrichment workshops and a bus tour for teachers to visit the various Aboriginal organizations in the city. The committee also held Legacy of Hope training, which educates and raises awareness about residential schools, including the effects and intergenerational impacts on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. The next steps for the education committee include creating an Aboriginal awareness week, a resource centre with a website that could provide materials and support for teachers and to work with the school boards to identify areas of need for Aboriginal children with learning disabilities. EMC

New bursary support for incoming uRegina Aboriginal students

A new scholarship at the University of Regina will provide support for new incoming undergraduate Aboriginal students beginning in the fall of 2013. Entitled the Honouring our Future Entrance Bursary, the $1,000 bursaries will be awarded annually to a member of each of Saskatchewan’s 74 First Nations as a way of removing financial barriers for students. “Making post-secondary education more accessible for Aboriginal students in Saskatchewan is of increasing importance to our province’s future,” said Dr. Vianne Timmons, uRegina President. The number of self-declared undergraduate Aboriginal students at uRegina has increased by 15% over the past year. Students of Aboriginal descent now represent almost 11% of the total undergraduate student body. uRegina News Release

NAIT and Census Envoy launch Aboriginal leadership program for Alberta youth

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, with the support of Cenovus Energy, has launched an innovative program to help promote Aboriginal youth leadership skills in First Nations communities in central and northern Alberta. The NAIT Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program was delivered early in April to 18 students between the ages of 15 and 18 in Heart Lake First Nation. Through interactive instruction, the NAIT program teaches students how to improve their communication skills, identify and deal with risks, manage a variety of conflict situations and improve time management skills. The program - taught by NAIT’s Project Leadership and Project Management instructors - helps students improve their grades, reduce school drop-out rates and improve employment opportunities. The program was successfully piloted 2 years ago in town of High Level to participants from the 3 Dene Tha’ First Nation communities. It will continue to be delivered to youth from other First Nation communities following last week’s successful launch. NAIT News Release