Indigenous Top Ten

June 19, 2013

Federal government invests in training for Aboriginal youth

On June 12, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, alongside several Saskatchewan First Nations Chiefs, announced $241 million in new investments in skills training for on-reserve Income Assistance clients. The initiative targets on-reserve youth aged 18-24 with support for personalized job and skills training. 2 projects designed to increase delivery of services will address individuals’ employment needs and barriers to employment, as well as training and employment services support. Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas commented that through partnerships between First Nations, industry, and government, “we are putting into place the stepping stones towards a brighter quality of life for our youth and the rest of the country." AANDC News Release

CBU receives $5 million for Aboriginal business program

Cape Breton University has received $5 million in funding from the federal government for the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies, held by Dr. Keith Brown. The program is focused on promoting interest among Canada’s Aboriginal peoples to study business at the PSE level, as well as conducting research specific to Aboriginal communities. Since its inception in 2010, the Chair has created the successful Business Network for Aboriginal Youth. Funding will help create a National Social Network of Aboriginal Students, matching Aboriginal business students with mentors, enabling discussion and collaboration across Canada. The Chair also intends to use the funds to create business cases, videos, and a textbook detailing successful Aboriginal business stories for PSE institutions. CBU News

Shell invests $1.8 million in Indspire to improve Aboriginal education

Shell Canada has donated $1.86 million to Indspire (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation) to support core education programs, continuing 26 years of partnership. This 3-year commitment will fund scholarships and bursaries, highlight career opportunities in the oil and gas sector, boost high school graduation rates, and support the Indspire awards for Aboriginal achievers. Indspire’s president and CEO stated, “With the help of outstanding corporate leaders like Shell, we can transform Indigenous education in this country." Indspire focuses on “supporting, innovating, and fundamentally transforming Indigenous education.” Indspire News Release

Selkirk Friendship Centre receives funding for Aboriginal language program

The federal government has provided $15,750 in funding through the Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI) of Canadian Heritage’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Program, supporting Aboriginal language classes in Cree, Ojibway, and Michif at the Selkirk Friendship Centre, in Selkirk, MB. The classes will be offered over an 8-week period, with up to 20 participants of all ages in each language class. The objective of ALI is to “support community-based language projects that contribute to the revitalization and preservation of Aboriginal languages and increase their use in community settings.” Ministry News Release

New graduate program in Indigenous Relations at Laurentian

Laurentian University announced a new master’s program in Indigenous Relations, to begin September 2014. The program will educate students on ways to “enhance the capacity of Indigenous peoples to participate as leaders in the economic, political, social and cultural life of Canada and the world.” The establishment of the new master’s program is a response to Laurentian’s graduate expansion plan, which called for an expansion of opportunities in a number of areas, specifically, Indigenous relations and governance. The course will embrace Indigenous worldviews, and serve Aboriginal students as a “partial catch-up to the rest of Canadian educational attainment and as a way to increase the steady flow of Aboriginal students into academia.” It will also serve non-Aboriginal students who desire to work with Indigenous communities from a culturally-sensitive viewpoint. Laurentian News Release | Program description

NWT announces Elders in Schools pilot program

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty announced the NWT Elders in Schools pilot program for the 2013-14 school year. The program is designed to strengthen, increase, and formalize Elder involvement in all schools across NWT, while recognizing that Elders provide a “vital role” in incorporating language and cultural knowledge in schools and communities. An official handbook is in production that will supply school officials with information on how to adopt the program, as well as answer FAQs. An evaluation framework is being developed to monitor the program’s effectiveness and ability to meet program objectives, and feedback from schools will be reviewed at the end of the pilot duration. NWT News

York's public school board launches First Nations teaching tool

Grade 10 students in Ontario will soon be learning more about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit history in Canada. The York Region District School Board has partnered with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and First Nations leaders to create the “First Nation, Métis and Inuit: Tracing our Historical Footprints” educational resource. There has been growing interest for more information regarding FNMI treaties, culture, and heritage, but many teachers have stated a lack of knowledge regarding those issues. The new document is meant to expand as school boards adopt the resource and use it in classes across all grade levels. York board school superintendent Steven Reid spoke of the desire to eventually implement the program “in every classroom across the province.” York Region News

High school TV show inspires Aboriginal youth

At the Mistassiniy School in Wabasca, AB, a new program is helping to inspire Aboriginal youth to attend school and realize goals. The school has an alarming absentee problem, and educators wanted to devise a program that would entice students to show up for school. The school created a TV show, Mustang TV, with 3 classes at the grade 7, 8, and 9 levels involved in all aspects of the show, from scripting to directing, and all technical aspects as well. Educators are hoping that the creation of Mustang TV becomes a “catalyst” for change in the school and community, encouraging the students to “dream big” and realize their potential, and getting the community to observe and encourage the kids to attend school and do well. As one student commented, “it’s good to be at school...I’m just trying to make something of my life.” CBC

Changes in funding process have Indigenous schools in “dire straits”

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has recently announced changes to the funding application and allotment process of the provincial Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP) in BC. Up to this point, the BC-ISSP reviewed applications from its 40 First Nations institutes, determining which programs would receive funding from the $2.1-million budget. On March 18, the ISSP committee received word that the provincial committee would be disbanded, and a national committee would take over the allocating of funds. This has members of BC’s First Nations PSE institutes very concerned over the future of the programs, some of which were expecting funds by April 1 of this year. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has issued a statement in support of BC-ISSP, pointing out that the federal government has made these changes with no consultation with Indigenous groups. The Tyee | UBCIC News Release | UBCIC Statement of Resolution

NorQuest launches first Aboriginal Workforce Summit

On May 28, representatives from NorQuest College, local construction and design industries, the small business sector, the energy sector, First Nations band councillors, Elders and youth, Alberta Minister of Aboriginal Relations Robin Campbell,  the City of Edmonton, and members of the general public gathered to discuss ways of helping Aboriginal peoples transition from school to the workforce, how to improve inclusion in the workplace, and how to increase ties between educational programs and potential employers. NorQuest will implement ideas and suggestions that came out of the summit, with the aim to continuously improve on programs and training that will enable Aboriginal peoples to fill labour shortages and improve the Alberta economy. The summit will become an annual event. NorQuest News Release