Indigenous Top Ten

July 17, 2013

TRU establishes new research chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development

Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops has received $2.5 million for the establishment of a Regional Innovation Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development. The funds are provided by the BC government, with $1.25 million through the Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF). The chair will specialize in Aboriginal early childhood development and maternal and child health, and will work closely with local Aboriginal communities to determine current needs and identify strengths and traditions in childhood development. Dr. Rod McCormick has been named as chair, bringing years of experience focusing on Aboriginal health research, careers and life planning, mental health and counselling, and youth suicide prevention. TRU News Release

BC First Nations schools need substantial funding increase, report

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report last week that found BC’s on-reserve schools are in need of a 50% increase in capital funding to improve and sustain infrastructure. Currently, the federal government provides $26 million annually for the operation and maintenance of schools on-reserve; according to the PBO report, an estimated $39 million is needed for the 2013-14 year to bring old and deteriorating buildings up to par with provincially funded schools. The report also determined that unless on-reserve schools begin to operate closer to provincial capacity average, by 2028-29 the amount needed to maintain infrastructure will be $47 million. According to the report, the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program (CFM) that allocates money for the upkeep of First Nations schools is under “considerable pressure,” and must defer some projects in favour of projects with “more immediate health and safety impacts.” Vancouver Sun | Victoria Times Colonist | Globe and Mail | Ottawa Citizen (CP) | PBO Report 

New BA in Indigenous Studies at Queen’s

The Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s University will begin offering a BA in Indigenous Studies this fall. The degree plan is part of a strategic initiative, along with the hiring of a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Studies, to build a “flagship interdisciplinary field of study” at Queen’s. Students will have the option of completing the Indigenous Studies degree plan as a minor, or as a stand-alone 3-year BA degree. Queen’s has recently seen a 6% increase in self-identifying Aboriginal students applying for admission. Queen’s News

Education agreement signed by Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Yukon

The Yukon government has signed an education agreement with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation that establishes the 2 governments as equal partners in the development of school curricula and programs in traditional Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in territory. This is the first agreement of its kind to be signed in the Yukon, and will set the precedence for Yukon’s dealings with other First Nations. The agreement will support new and existing First Nation education initiatives, including the accreditation of culture camps, the development of curriculum resources relating to residential schools, and the Education Outreach Program, which addresses youth that struggle with regular school attendance. Education Minister Scott Kent stated, “By including Yukon First Nations culture, language and history in educational curricula we enrich the learning experience of all Yukon students.” Yukon News Release

Ontario online secondary school receives international award

Gai hon nya ni:  The Amos Key Jr. E-Learning Institute has been given the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education by the World Education Congress. The Institute is an online private secondary school that provides an opportunity for Ontario Aboriginal high school students to attain credits and/or their diploma online. All courses, and the diplomas themselves, are fully accredited and comply with Ontario Ministry of Education standards. The Congress focuses on influencing the “evolving culture of education and educational pedagogy, with the objective of deep systemic change.” Institute News | WEC awards list

uSask hosts NAISA conference

Saskatoon hosted the annual gathering of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) last month at the University of Saskatchewan, the first time the conference has been held in Canada. Close to 900 delegates from the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand attended to present research and attend lectures on topics such as the reinforcement of stereotypes in recent mainstream media events, a new smartphone app that teaches the Indigenous history of Toronto, and the Idle No More movement. NAISA enables researchers around the globe to connect and share knowledge surrounding Indigenous scholarship. CBC | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (1) | Saskatoon StarPhoenix(2) | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (3) | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (4) | NAISA website

Métis Interpretive Learning Centre opens

On National Aboriginal Day, Ontario welcomed the opening of the Historic Saugeen Métis Interpretive Learning Centre in Southampton. The centre’s mission is to be a “first rate centre for Great Lake cultural interpretation, education and gatherings.” Local officials attending the grand opening applauded the centre for reaching out to the surrounding communities to provide education on the local Métis culture. According to one attendee, the establishment of the centre is “the telling of a part of the history that has largely been left untold.” Shoreline Beacon

College of the Rockies and Ktunaxa Nation partner to offer in-community training

A new partnership between BC’s College of the Rockies and the Ktunaxa Nation will allow community members to receive training in their home communities. The “Bridging to Education and Employment” program will have 4 pathways to employment: health careers, trades, tourism hospitality, and internal economy, with participants eligible to pursue several levels of certification, including transferable COTR credits. The goal of the program is to enhance career prospects and employability opportunities while offering traditional knowledge and culturally relevant teaching. The program will be open to people of Aboriginal heritage, over 18 years old, not currently receiving EI benefits or attending school. COTR News Release

Selkirk College celebrates success of Aboriginal youth and educators conference

BC’s Selkirk College hosted the inaugural Aboriginal youth and educators conference “Strengthening Our Relations” last month to great success, according to participants. The college wanted to host an event that “celebrate[d] culture, traditions, relationship building, and learning,” through cultural activities, panel discussions, and networking. Presentations and group discussions focused on Indigenous languages and their link with cultural survival, as well as the impact of respecting Indigenous ways of knowledge on education experiences. Organizers hope to hold more conferences in the future. Selkirk College News

Indigenous leaders address education shortcomings at President’s Forum

The recent Canadian Teachers’ Federation President’s Forum included a two-day session on Indigenous education in Canada, with many members of Indigenous communities and education organizations weighing in on the education system’s failure to support Aboriginal students. As Canada’s First Nation Education Act looms closer, many Indigenous officials are unhappy with what they say is a top-down approach, and suggest that federal education mandates will reiterate measures already in place, such as attendance policies, without providing additional funding to improve school systems. Clément Chartier, president of the Métis National Council (MNC), reminded attendees that Métis youth often fall through the cracks of the education system, as they do not receive the same federal funding. | Metro News | MNC Statement