Indigenous Top Ten

December 18, 2013

Indspire receives $500,000 for new educator coaching program

Indspire’s new Peer Support: Educator Coaching program has received a $500,000 investment from Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, as National Development Sponsor. The professional development program provides a forum for educators to connect and share best practices, and connects new educators with experienced educators. Indspire President Roberta Jamieson stated, "Together, these educators will grow and develop curriculum theory and its delivery to bring Indigenous education to a new level of excellence. We salute the commitment of Great West Life, London Life and Canada Life to the advancement of education for Canada's Indigenous peoples." This week Indspire also released results from its 2013 Survey of Education Choices Made by Indigenous Students, which examined the various factors affecting the institutional choices of Indigenous students. The survey found that program of study, school reputation, faculty, financial aid, and Indigenous support services were the main factors that influenced respondents when choosing their school. Indspire News Release (donation) | Indspire News Release (survey) | Report

Aboriginal learners in Quebec get a boost

The executive MBA (EMBA) program offered in partnership by McGill University and HEC Montréal has announced a new scholarship for Indigenous learners. The $40,000 merit-based scholarship will be available to Aboriginal individuals with experience as executives, managers, professionals, and entrepreneurs. Also, the Quebec government announced last week $5 million in funding over 2 years to help the Fédération des cégeps strengthen services for Aboriginal students and students with special needs. The first installment of $3 million will focus on resources for students with special needs, and the 2nd, $2-million installment will be geared towards supporting Indigenous and immigrant students. HEC Montréal News | Cégeps News Release (in French) | Montreal Gazette

NB First Nations group launches website for Aboriginal students

First Nations Education Initiative Inc in New Brunswick has launched a new interactive website that will help First Nations students make informed PSE decisions. The site, PSE Helper, includes information about accessing scholarships and bursaries, monitors and reports on student and career events going on around the province, helps students and graduates find work in their field of study, and connects students with community elders. “The website was designed specifically for New Brunswick Mi'kmaq and Maliseet students, but we hope this format and service can be adapted to other First Nations communities and cultures across Canada,” says Bob Atwin, Executive Director of First Nations Education Initiative Inc. The NB government provided $45,000 in funding for the site. New Brunswick News Release

PSE institutions sign MOUs to support Indigenous education

Saskatchewan’s Parkland College has signed an MOU with the Keeseekoose First Nation, forming an official partnership that reinforces Parkland’s commitment to working with local First Nations. The affiliation will involve Essential Skills programs, Adult Basic Education, and specific skills training designed to link members of the First Nation with industry and jobs. The 5-year agreement details terms and directives for both parties to work to secure training allowances for students learning on-reserve. Ontario’s Northern College recently signed an MOU with the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) that is intended to strengthen and formalize the positive working relationship between Northern and the MNO. The MOU sets out several key areas for collaboration, including “increasing Métis participation in, and access to, Northern College programs and services, engaging in joint Métis research initiatives and promoting Métis content across the curriculum.” And, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops has signed an MOU with the Tk'emlups Indian Band to formalize and revitalize their co-operative relationship. Parkland News Release | Northern News Release | Kamloops Daily News

New teacher program at uToronto educates teachers and students

Education students in the Aboriginal specialist program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto are bringing awareness of Aboriginal history in Canada to schools throughout Toronto. As part of a “bold move” by uToronto to “train teachers to deliver deeper, if sobering, lessons about how this country has treated First Nations people,” student teachers have begun sharing lessons about residential schools, treaties, and the Sixties Scoop with students. The program is funded through uToronto’s First Nations House, as part of the Deepening Knowledge initiative. OISE professor Nancy Steele argues that children are not too young to learn this facet of Canada’s history. “In order to create compassionate citizens, it’s important students know the complexities of situations in the past, and the effect of history on our present-day world,” said Steele. “They can’t become critical thinkers unless they can see all sides of the situation.” The curriculum also includes cultural activities and visits by elders. Toronto Star

Conestoga College launches new program for Indigenous students

A new program at Ontario’s Conestoga College offers Aboriginal learners the opportunity to learn valuable computer software and applications knowledge in order to prepare for entry-level positions in front-line, information technology support and office administration. Aboriginal Studies - Office Software Applications is a 12-week, full-time program offered for free to eligible participants. Students will gain knowledge of computer programs such as Office and Excel, as well as taking classes in Aboriginal culture and event planning, customer service, social media, first aid and CPR, and safe food handling. The program is open to anyone of First Nations (status or non-status), Métis, or Inuit descent, possessing a high school diploma or over 19 years of age. Conestoga News

UBC students and local elders learn from one another

Students in the endangered languages course at the University of BC Okanagan campus recently had an opportunity to learn some of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) language from local elders, while also teaching the elders a simple language game that can be used to teach Secwepemc to local youth. The interactive game uses repetition of words for simple objects, combined with American Sign Language, in order to reinforce the word in the learner’s memory. "It's very important to try to preserve the language of Aboriginal peoples, as there is so much knowledge about the land and environment that lives within their language," says Christine Schreyer, a linguistic anthropologist. “The province of BC has challenges because there are more Indigenous languages in BC than anywhere else in Canada. We wanted to teach the elders another method to share the languages and that’s where this game fits in perfectly.” UBC News Release

Idle No More and AFN address education issues

Supporters of the Idle No More movement took to Parliament Hill early last week to rally for First Nations education, just days before the AFN’s Special Chiefs Assembly took place in Quebec, where the assembled Chiefs voted to reject the current draft legislation and urged continued consultations regarding Indigenous education. Don Drummond, the former chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, told the assembly to be careful asking for “equal” funding, as many First Nations schools “would require higher than provincial funding because you have much more challenging circumstances on most reserves.” Drummond also cautioned the chiefs against signing off on legislation before the funding issue was settled. The Chiefs have insisted that “assurances of increased long-term funding must be provided before any education legislation will get their approval.” AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo has issued a letter to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty with funding recommendations for the 2014 federal budget. Atleo has requested 4% annual education budget increases to allow for the growing Indigenous youth population, as well as funds for classroom-level operations, a languages and culture reconciliation fund, and funding for new and updated infrastructure. Sun News | CBC | Globe and Mail | CTV

Aboriginal Training program celebrates success

Representatives of the provincial and federal governments, local industry, and Aboriginal groups met late last week to celebrate the ongoing success of the Labrador Aboriginal Training Partnership, which provides meaningful employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal peoples in Labrador. The partnership was established in 2009, and received a $14-million financial boost in June 2013, enabling the successful training of almost 400 individuals in various trades through local PSE institutions. Nick McGrath, Minister Responsible for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, stated, “Our government is committed to removing barriers to education and training, which are critical components of achieving long-term successes for Aboriginal persons. The Labrador Aboriginal Training Partnership is a reflection of that commitment.” Newfoundland and Labrador News Release | The Labradorian

Valcourt issues open letter to AFN

Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, last week issued an open letter to Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in response to Atleo’s letter of November 25. Stating that “the time is long overdue for us to ensure that First Nation children have access to a comprehensive education regime which affords them education rights and protections in the same manner as all other students,” the letter addresses the 5 recommendations in Atleo’s letter, and states that existing education agreements will not be affected by future legislation. Valcourt has removed the deadline for consultations on the draft legislation, and encourages further dialogue with First Nations, noting, “It is only by working together that we will achieve strong and effective education systems that will meet the needs of all First Nation students.” In an interview earlier last week, Valcourt told reporters that more funding would be made available to support Indigenous education, but that the legislative framework must be passed first, and must have support of the First Nations to pass. Atleo issued a brief response to Valcourt that urged further “dialogue founded on the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education that values our languages and cultures and is supported by stable, sustainable and fair funding.” AANDC News Release | Globe and Mail | CBC | APTN News | CTV | AFN News