Indigenous Top Ten

August 14, 2013

Education jurisdiction negotiations renewed in BC

BC’s Education Jurisdiction Framework Agreement has been extended for another 5 years, allowing First Nations in BC to work towards self-governing jurisdiction over on-reserve education for K-12. There are currently 14 First Nations involved in the process, with 54 more that have expressed official interest in entering agreements. Tyrone McNeil, president of the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), stated that the agreement “represents a recommitment by Canada and BC to recognize and support the education authority of First Nation communities.” Eventually, BC’s First Nations hope to award graduation certificates that uphold the same standards as the provincial certificates; according to McNeil, the main stumbling block is money. The agreement was signed by McNeil, Peter Fassbender, BC Minister of Education, and Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. AANDC News Release | Chilliwack Times

SK First Nations drafting education legislation

The Prince Albert Grand Council and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations met last week to discuss the implementation of standards of education governance for local First Nations. The organizations are using an educational template developed by Indigenous educators in the mid-80s, altering it to fit the individual needs of various communities. As the expected October release of the federal Indian Education Act draft legislation looms closer, First Nation communities are determined to uphold their inherent right to control their own education; introducing their own legislation ahead of the federal government may help. FSIN Vice-Chief Bobby Cameron stated that they will continue to push the federal government for funding that is comparable to provincial funding for off-reserve schools. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

New website helps Aboriginal youth explore careers in mining

A new, interactive online resource has been released that educates Aboriginal youth in Northern Ontario on the mining industry. was developed by Thunder Bay’s Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education & Training Institute in order to highlight the various career opportunities in the mining sector. Participants can play a game, called Waaniike, which combines traditional First Nation knowledge with current mining practices, allowing youth to build their mining literacy. The website also has videos, job profiles, a “career visualizer” that suggests specific careers based on answers to questions, and guidance regarding educational pathways. Mining in Northern Ontario is expected to see large growth in the coming years, and can help prepare Aboriginal youth to take full advantage of career opportunities. Northern Ontario Business | The Chronicle Journal | Wawatay News Online |

Aski the turtle tests literacy skills of Indigenous children

An innovative educational resource is experiencing great success and is set for expansion across Saskatchewan. Aski the turtle is a puppet that, along with an iPad app, assesses young children (aged 3-5) on their school-readiness and language acquirement. Although the program is not only for Indigenous children, it has focused on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth as part of ongoing efforts to close the educational gap between them and non-Aboriginal children. The program is available in English, Cree, Dene, Michif, and soon, French. A teacher or staff member uses the puppet to ask the child questions, which he/she answers by touching an image on the iPad. At the same time, the parent uses another iPad to answer survey questions. A report is then generated detailing where the students' language skills are strong, and where they need more work. Resources are available for parents to aid children in specific areas. The program, officially called Help Me Tell My Story, will soon include mathematical concepts as well as literacy skills. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

uLethbridge researcher calls on First Nations knowledge to find anti-cancer drugs

First Nations knowledge from all over Alberta will help University of Lethbridge biological sciences researcher Dr Roy Golsteyn look for new cancer treatments in the new “Prairie to Pharmacy” project. “For at least 6,000 years, First Nations people have sustained themselves with the materials available to them on the Prairies. They have acquired a profound knowledge of their environment,” says Golsteyn. Golsteyn and his team are currently “inviting First Nations members to work with them, and figuring out how to share knowledge [in order to] find new anti-cancer drugs while respecting the origins and uses of traditional knowledge.” Lab Product News

Kootenay, BC launches skills-training plan

The Kootenay (BC) Regional Workforce Table has announced a skills-training plan that will help ensure communities in the region have skilled workers to fill both current and future jobs. By bringing together key leaders from industry, employers, First Nations, training service providers, economic development organizations, educators and others, the Table will identify key opportunities in the region and the training needed to address them. Key training priorities will include: strengthening and building regional industry, education and community collaboration; enhancing training related to small- and medium-sized enterprises; helping lower-skilled people upgrade and improve their skills; and continuing to ensure that local training is aligned to workforce needs. BC News Release | Skills-training plan

Nunavut energy company supports Inuit youth leadership development

The Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC), Nunavut’s only power company and a crown corporation, has recently launched a program that gives Inuit students, specifically beneficiaries of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, an opportunity to attend a post-secondary degree program relevant to the business needs of the organization. The Inuit Leadership Development Program (ILDP) is in the pilot stage, and its first participant, Alex Cook, will attend St Francis Xavier University in September as part of the Bachelor of Business Administration program, majoring in leadership in management. “The goal of this program is to increase Inuit representation at the professional, management, and eventually, senior management levels, to develop the future leadership team,” says Jamie McCarthy, Inuit Employment Plan administrator. StFX News Release

Ottawa’s Indigenous youth participate in educational program at the National Art Gallery

250 Indigenous youth, aged 8-18, in the Ottawa area have had a unique opportunity to gain knowledge and insight into Indigenous worldviews from around the globe. The program centres on the Sakahàn exhibit at the National Art Gallery, which showcases 150 pieces from more than 80 Indigenous artists in 16 countries. The children are getting an in-depth look at the artworks, as well as creating their own art and discussing the issues raised by the exhibit, which includes pieces depicting residential schools, race riots, and the effects of colonization. The 5-week camp was made possible by an anonymous donation of $195,000, and a partnership among the United Way, Ottawa’s Aboriginal Coalition, and the Sakahàn exhibit. Ottawa Citizen

Baffin region schools still filling teaching positions for the fall

Schools in the Baffin region of Nunavut are welcoming back students in the next couple of weeks, but some are still waiting for confirmation that there will be enough teachers. Although there are 7 open positions advertised at the moment, officials state that 20 positions are still technically open, as schools wait on reference checks and the Department Education Authority to conduct interviews. Region officials are hopeful that most, if not all, of the positions will be filled by the time school starts. So far, the region has hired 84 new employees this year, and 63 came from the Nunavut education system. The region often has difficulty filling positions with Inuktitut-speaking teachers, especially at the higher grade levels. Nunatsiaq Online

CBU launches new global social justice journal

Cape Breton University’s Centre for International Studies has launched a new Global Social Justice Journal, which seeks to transcend the academic/social activist divide through the dissemination of peer-reviewed research on normative global social justice issues including economic globalization, human rights, Indigenous peoples, the environment, education, gender, class, political culture and race. The journal publishes critical qualitative and quantitative research, with articles “that question the fundamentals of the status quo” from various disciplines, including Indigenous studies. CBU News Release | Global Social Justice Journal