Indigenous Top Ten

July 31, 2013

First Nations groups reject federal blueprint for Education Act

Indigenous organizations across the country have rejected the blueprint for the federal First Nations Education Act, calling it “paternalistic” and stating that it denies the “primary importance” of First Nations languages and cultures. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and the Assembly of First Nations have all publicly voiced their opposition to the blueprint, arguing that it fails to address funding shortfalls and fails to affirm First Nations control of First Nations education. In BC, chiefs are concerned that the act will undermine successful initiatives already in place, and compare the education act to the federal white paper of 1969. The AFN unanimously passed a motion rejecting the blueprint at the recent annual general assembly. As well as rejecting the federal act, the Vice Chief of the FSIN has shared a version of a First Nations-authored education act and is urging bands to adapt it to their specific needs and have it authorized before the federal act comes into effect. UBCIC News Release | FNESC News Release | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (CP) | Kamloops Daily News | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (FSIN) | AANDC Blueprint 

uSask establishes first Chair in Aboriginal Education

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education has established its first ever Chair in Aboriginal Education. Métis educator and scholar Jeff Baker has been named to the position, where he will teach classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and collaborate with the Aboriginal Education Research Centre to develop community partnerships and drive research regarding academic success. The chair also aims to improve education by including Indigenous content and culture at all classroom levels. The chair is internally funded by the College of Education, with support from uSask. The College is currently seeking external funds to further develop the position. uSask News Release

Education ministers agree to include residential schools in curriculum

Earlier this month, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) met for their annual meeting in Nunavut, the first time the meeting was held in Canada’s newest territory. Nunavut premier and minister of education Eva Aariak encouraged the ministers to take action by including residential school history in curriculum. The ministers agreed that “education can promote reconciliation and mutual understanding,” and resolved to address the ongoing legacy of residential schools in Canada by including the subject in curricula across all provincial and territorial school systems. The ministers also agreed to focus on the success of Indigenous students, starting with early learning opportunities. The ministers have agreed to work to improve collaboration among all education partners, including the federal government, and stated the need for the federal government to fulfill funding responsibilities to Indigenous education. CMEC News Release | Nunatsiaq Online

Royal Roads partners with First Nations communities to launch training partnership

Royal Roads University and 2 First Nations communities in the Peace River region of BC have launched a training program that will focus on growing native plant species for reclamation. Leading experts in native plant horticulture and reclamation as well as mining companies are participating in the Native Plant Propagation Program, which allows the Saulteau and West Moberly First Nation communities to learn to raise native plants. The training program began on July 15 at the Twin Sisters Native Plants nursery in Northern BC. “There is growing demand for native species in the reclamation of degraded landscapes and getting aboriginal communities involved is a great fit,” said Michael Keefer, head of Cranbrook-based Keefer Ecological Services and co-lead on curriculum development with Royal Roads. “Western Canada has a shortage of specialized native plant nurseries that can meet projected market demands, and a major barrier to opening these businesses is a lack of access to suitably trained personnel.” Royal Roads News Release

Métis Nation of Ontario educates the educators

Members of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council were recently invited to an Upper Grand District School Board and Wellington Catholic District School Board professional development day, to teach the educators about Métis heritage and culture. Council chair Jennifer Parkinson and president Cora Bunn brought a “Métis Education Kit,” which includes a Métis timeline, posters, a Métis sash, Marcel Labelle’s book Our Knowledge Canoe, and the Métis Fiddler Quartet’s CD, to show the 70 teachers and principals. In May, the MNO also visited students and teachers in the Peel District School Board (PDSB), providing a cultural demonstration of fiddling and jigging for the audience. The MNO also held a “Métis 101” introduction to the new Métis Education Kits that teachers can use to include Métis history and knowledge in the classrooms. MNO News Release (1) | MNO News Release (2)

MUN signs MOU to create community Aboriginal teacher-training program

Memorial University's Labrador Institute and Faculty of Education signed a Memorandum of Understanding this month to explore the creation of a community-based Aboriginal teacher-training program in Labrador. Two new positions will be created - a Visiting Professor faculty member and a research associate. Both positions will start this fall and will begin conducting research on the feasibility of such a program. Kirk Anderson, dean of the Faculty of Education at MUN, says his staff have been in “active discussions” with the Nunatsiavut government about the program, and that he has had preliminary discussions with members of the Innu communities. Anderson also plans on speaking with NunatuKavut in the near future. The MOU was signed following another successful partnership that saw 17 Labrador Inuit students complete their social work degrees in Labrador. The Labradorian

First Nations leaders discuss education with premiers

Canada’s premiers met with leaders of national Aboriginal groups during last week’s Council of the Federation gathering in Ontario to discuss Aboriginal education and other topics affecting Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne stated it is her personal priority to make progress on improving Aboriginal health and education. Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo spoke to the Globe and Mail after meeting with the premiers, stating that he hopes Indigenous groups can work with the provinces and territories to improve Aboriginal education. He suggested a number of measures including the setting of specific targets to improve graduation rates, an increase in First Nations-language immersion programs, and implementing measures to encourage teachers to work in on-reserve schools. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger spoke to the premiers’ support, noting that premiers want to work in partnership with First Nations. Metro News | CBC | Globe and Mail

New training program in BC

British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BC AMTA) has received a $50,000 investment from TransCanada Corporation to run an innovative education program: The First Nations Referrals Officer Training and Certification Program. The program will initially run as a pilot, and will aim to train members of BC’s First Nations how to deal with land use planning and development proposals. Many of BC’s First Nations are ill-equipped to handle resource and development proposals within the community; BC AMTA’s program will enable communities to deal with proposals and referrals efficiently, with potential long-term economic and social benefits. The program curriculum will focus on skills in administration, research, policy, geographic information systems (GIS), natural resource management, leadership, negotiation, and project management. BC AMTA News Release

Aboriginal education working group to share best practices

A working group on Aboriginal education is aiming to bring to the table best practices and data in order to address the needs of on- and off-reserve First Nations members. The group, which is made up of partners from the Ontario K-12, PSE, private, and government sectors, is hoping to develop local and regional programs and connections to help improve educational outcomes for First Nations. “Our first goal will be to develop a vision and bring the key stakeholders to the table,” says working group chair Tina Reed, a co-ordinator with the e-learning provincial agency Contact North. “We want to identify the great work that is happening out there so we can start developing a network to share best practices.” MPP Dave Levac “was a linchpin of sorts to gather those partners already at the table through his call to action, but has now stepped back to allow the group to set its own course.” Brantford Expositor

Groups call for more Indigenous history in NS schools

Indigenous organizations in Nova Scotia are calling on the provincial government to implement measures to educate all children in the school system on Mi’kmaq history and culture, and the residential school and treaty histories. Under the NS education act, school boards are meant to provide courses on Mi’kmaq history, culture, and language, but the Native Council of Nova Scotia says that one course offered at the high school level is not enough. NS’s council on Mi’kmaq education wants Indigenous history to be a part of the curriculum for all students at all grade levels. The department of education in NS has said it plans to introduce resources to help teachers lead instruction on residential schools. CBC