Indigenous Top Ten

May 22, 2013

New statistics prompt discussions over Aboriginal education and youth

The National Household Survey has released data from the 2011 report that clearly underlines the growing population of young Aboriginal peoples. With a national median age of 28 for Aboriginal people (compared to 41 for non-Aboriginals), and with 46.2% of the Aboriginal population aged 24 and under, government and community leaders are calling for improvements to Aboriginal education and training, specifically on-reserve. The federal government has identified the Aboriginal population as a potential work force to offset looming job shortages and move many Aboriginal peoples out of poverty. After 3 months of consultation between government and Aboriginal groups, the new First Nations Education Act is expected to be released in the fall. However, conflicts between First Nations leaders and the Conservative government could mar the success of new legislation. Statistics Canada | Globe and Mail

Nunavut Arctic College receives $1.1 million to train early-childhood educators

Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut’s MP, announced May 14 that the federal government will grant $1.1 million from the Aboriginal Head Start Strategic Fund to support the Capacity Building for Early Childhood Development Educators project led by the Nunavut Arctic College. The program is designed to train people to work with children from infancy to age 6 in daycares, nurseries and schools. The funds will increase the ability for Nunavummiut to receive education across all 3 regions of Nunavut, consequently improving the health, well-being, and “school-readiness” of young children in Nunavut. The funding has been approved for 2 years. Nunatsiaq Online | Public Health Agency of Canada News Release

Youth can help save at-risk Aboriginal languages

Aboriginal youth in BC are likely the key to saving at-risk Aboriginal languages. The recent national household survey found that BC Aboriginal peoples are twice as likely as other Canadian groups to learn traditional languages as a second language. Steady decreases in the number of first-language speakers have put many Aboriginal languages, particularly those in BC, at critical risk. Language is the first step for many seeking to reconnect with their culture, at any age, leading to a rise in Aboriginal language courses at all levels of education. The elementary school level has seen the introduction of several full immersion language schools, such as the Chief Atahm School at Sexqeltqin (Adams Lake Reserve) in Chase. Vancouver Sun

Lethbridge College receives funding for Métis students

As part of Lethbridge College’s “The Possibilities are Endless” campaign, the Métis Education Foundation (MEF) has provided $500,000 to fund annual Métis student awards. The gift has 4 purposes: to encourage Métis students to attend college; to increase the number of Métis students attending and completing studies; to foster connections between the Métis community and academia; and to promote knowledge of Métis history and culture through culturally sensitive practices at Lethbridge College while promoting the college in the Métis community. To date, the MEF has provided $14.5 million in endowments to various PSE institutions. Lethbridge College News Release

TRU hosts business plan competition for Aboriginal high school students

Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops hosted the 13th edition of the Business Development Bank (BDC) E-Spirit Business Plan Competition for Aboriginal high school students May 14-16. 35 teams from 17 schools from across Canada met to finish a 16-week web-based competition designed to introduce students to entrepreneurial practices, intense team collaboration, and leadership skills. E-Spirit provided students and their schools with numerous resources to participate in the competition, including a new computer for the school, and mentoring and networking opportunities for the students participating. TRU News Release | BDC Media Advisory

Attendance incentives in Nunavut

School attendance is up in several schools in Nunavut and the rise is being credited to prizes for attendance. Determined to combat an alarming 70% attendance rate, administrators began awarding running shoes as prizes for attendance over 50%. The top 5 attendees, who must have 100% attendance, and the 5 most improved students get solar powered backpacks. Low attendance is the biggest concern for Nunavut’s education department, and under their Education Act district authorities are expected to establish attendance policies. Nunatsiaq Online

NVIATS opens in Campbell River

On May 8, North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society celebrated its official grand opening with traditional dance, prayers and blessings. Funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, NVIATS offers training programs, skills workshops, career counselling, and access to computers, tuition/book funds and work/safety gear, among other resources. Located in Campbell River, NVIATS will be accessible to status, non-status, on-reserve and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples from North Qualicum Beach to Port Hardy and Alert Bay. 25 preschoolers from the Aboriginal Head Start program performed dances in traditional dress, signifying the importance of culture to education and success in the future. Campbell River Courier-Islander

Aboriginal education at crisis point: Martin and Atleo

During the 2013 R. W. B. Jackson Lecture, “First Nations’ Education in Canada” held April 18 at the University of Toronto, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada, and fellow speaker the Right Honourable Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada, were in agreement that the educational crisis facing Canada’s Aboriginal population is a matter of social justice that needs to be remedied. Atleo called for further funding for schools to meet the demands of the fastest growing population in Canada – Aboriginal youth. He also stated that it be “mandatory” for the histories of residential schools and treaties to be added to curricula, nation-wide. Martin commented on budget deferrals, drawing distinctions between the importance of funding for projects like buildings or roads and for education: “When you defer education, children rarely, if ever, catch up.” OISE News Release | Globe and Mail

Indigenizing the Academy the theme at Indigenous academics’ conference

As part of a Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Roundtable, scholars from Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand gathered May 6-10 to discuss strategies and possibilities to “indigenize” the academy. Margaret Mutu, the head of the Department of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland, spoke to the successes and difficulties experienced in the move to broaden Maori student enrolment, Maori staff and faculty employment, and Maori-focused teaching departments. Citing “institutional racism” Mutu stressed the need to continue fighting for programs like a Bachelor of Maori Studies program in the face of multiple denials. Canadian scholars called for demographic parity among universities, from students to faculty, staff, and those in leadership roles. Recommendations are expected to be announced resulting from the roundtable, as well as future roundtables that are in the planning stages.

NWT welcomes Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program

Thomas Simpson School in Fort Simpson, NWT joins 17 other schools across Canada offering the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Developed by the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI), the program offers Aboriginal youth an opportunity to learn about the economy, business, and entrepreneurship while encouraging them to complete high school and pursue PSE. Enbridge Inc. has pledged funding for 3 years, and MAEI has provided support for educators and the program-specific curriculum materials. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin, along with other local dignitaries and Enbridge representatives, gathered at the school for the official launch on May 6. Enbridge News Release | Northern News Services