Indigenous Top Ten

June 5, 2013

uRegina President challenges Summit attendees to improve Aboriginal education

The University of Regina hosted the Lloyd Barber Summit on Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education May 23 and 24, where the focus was on creating new and innovative ways for Aboriginal peoples to access PSE. Keynote speakers included Perry Bellegarde, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and Shawn Atleo, Assembly of First Nations National Chief. Bellegarde spoke of the need to embrace diversity by integrating Indigenous ways of life into educational institutions. Atleo called for the implementation of treaty rights to education in order to raise the number of Aboriginal PSE graduates, which he believes will be a huge asset to Canada’s economy. At the end of the Summit, uRegina President Vianne Timmons challenged everyone there to focus on one thing they could do to improve Aboriginal education. She also announced her goal of creating PSE funding for all Aboriginal foster children who graduate from high school. Regina Leader-Post (1) | Regina Leader-Post (2) | Regina Leader-Post (3) | Saskatoon StarPhoenix

New program at UVic for Aboriginal entrepreneurs

The first session of the new Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs (NW-ACE) program at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business is underway with a full roster. The NW-ACE program, designed to educate and support Aboriginal peoples in Northern BC who want to start their own business, involves 6 weeks of classroom instruction followed by a 12-week entrepreneurial mentorship. Frank Parnell, CEO of partner company TRICORP, states that there has never been a better time for such a program, considering the “perfect storm” of new business opportunities and the willingness of companies to engage with Aboriginal businesses and individuals. NW-ACE News | Victoria Times Colonist | Globe and Mail

Report highlights gaps in First Nations education

According to a 2012 report that was recently released publicly, First Nations schools are struggling to provide an adequate education for Aboriginal students. Specific problems include lower-quality teaching, an inferior curriculum, and improper services for children with special needs. The expected population boom in Aboriginal children—estimated at 15% growth over the next 2 decades—will exacerbate the problem if measures are not taken now to improve conditions. The report also concluded that education opportunities and results are not comparable to off-reserve schools, with only 41% of First Nations youth graduating high school, compared to 77% in the wider population. The report recommended that Aboriginal Affairs do more research into funding allocation methodologies that are "equitable to provincial approaches, while at the same time accounting for cost realities on reserve." CBC | AADNC Report

Record number of Aboriginal graduates from UBC

The University of British Columbia celebrated the highest number of Aboriginal graduates ever, surpassing the record set last year by 25%. 155 Aboriginal students graduated from 14 of 15 faculties, including medicine and law; only pharmaceutical sciences did not have a graduate, and as there are currently Aboriginal students in that faculty, officials hope that next year all 15 faculties will celebrate Aboriginal graduates. There are 3 reasons being given for the increase in graduates: increased attention to Aboriginal students and their needs in recruitment, retention, and admission; better transitions from high school to university; and an increased ability to find work in home communities. UBC officials caution that the numbers are still below parity with non-Aboriginal graduates, with only 1.5% of students at UBC identifying as Aboriginal, compared with 5% in the general population of BC. The Tyee

New program to track Inuit PSE outcomes

A new program has been established by the Nunavut General Monitoring Plan (NGMP) in order to track the successes of Inuit students who attend PSE institutions outside of Nunavut. With Nunavut Arctic College being the only PSE institution available in Nunavut, many Inuit must travel south to attain a degree or diploma. The new program will gather information on students both within and outside of Nunavut, tracking education outcomes, employment statistics, funding measures, and elements of personal development and well-being. The NGMP is a program that collects, analyzes, and reports information on the long-term conditions of Nunavut’s environment, people, communities, and economy. Arctic College News Release

Group calls for Aboriginal history to be taught in Quebec high schools

The organization Quebec Native Women (QNW) has issued a petition to the Quebec National Assembly asking for Aboriginal history to be included in the current revisions to high school history courses in the province. Viviane Michel, president of QNW, believes that educating Quebec youth on the history of Aboriginal relations could help to fight racism and negative stereotypes. Michel wants the history courses to be mandatory to all Quebec high school students, and suggested preparatory training for all instructors that will teach the course, in order to ensure better understanding of the issues. Political leaders backing the petition have stated that it is important for Quebecers to know their history, even if it is unflattering. QNW wants Aboriginal experts to be consulted during the revision process; however, the office of the education minister is non-committal. CJAD 800 AM | Montreal Gazette

Ontario school board receives funding for Aboriginal programs

The Bluewater District School Board has received more than $15,000 from Bruce Power to support Aboriginal programs in its schools. Bruce officials stated that the donation is a “continued investment” in local Aboriginal youth, and recognized the potential of Aboriginal youth to be a large part of the future work force, and a significant “talent pool” in the area and across the country. There are 7 projects earmarked for the funds, including academic awards, technology supplies, student mentoring support, and career guidance. Bayshore Broadcasting | BWDSB News Release

Cambrian lights Sacred Fire

Sudbury’s Cambrian College has erected the Sacred Fire Arbour and celebrated the lighting of the fire with sunrise and awakening ceremonies. The Arbour is meant to be a place where people of all cultures can connect with each other and with their cultures; it offers a sacred place where staff, students, and community members can “honour traditions that support health and well-being.” The Arbour will also be used in the future as a location for prayers, teachings, and ceremonies. It is thought that the Arbour will help students ease the transition away from families and home communities. The log structure has a multicoloured roof that symbolizes the 4 colours of the medicine wheel. Cambrian News Release | Sudbury Star

Blood Tribe's Kainai High School celebrates success

Kainai High School on the Blood reserve in Alberta is looking forward to this year’s graduation when 13 students will receive diplomas, a happy increase from 4 years ago, when just one student finished high school. The increase is attributed to a number of changes that the school has undergone in the last 4 years, including mandatory exercise to begin every school day, a 4-quarter school year with 2 classes per quarter, and Blackfoot language and culture classes. The school has seen marked improvement in areas of literacy and overall attendance, and Principal Annette Bruised Head hopes next year’s graduation will see even higher numbers of diplomas awarded. Calgary Herald 

NS creates scholarships to train Mi’kmaq correctional officers

The Nova Scotia government is providing $57,000 to create 4 scholarships for Mi’kmaq youth in NS to train as correctional officers. The initiative is designed to create more opportunities for Aboriginal youth, build a stronger and more diverse workforce, improve the process of justice in NS, and to improve the relationship between the Canadian justice system and the Mi’kmaq peoples. A Correctional Services employee stated that Aboriginal restorative justice practices are in existence, but that more people are needed to bring the knowledge into the justice system. NS Correctional Services will provide on-the-job training placements for the students who receive the scholarships. NS News Release