Indigenous Top Ten

February 12, 2014

AFN and federal government announce changes to FNEA

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other dignitaries last week to announce changes to the proposed First Nations Education Act. Now called the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA), the new approach will adopt the recommendations made by the AFN during the Special Chiefs Assembly, including recognition of First Nations and Treaty rights, sustainable funding, reciprocal accountability with no unilateral federal oversight, and meaningful dialogue and consultation going forward. As part of the agreement, Canada will commit an additional $1.9 billion for Aboriginal education – $1.25 billion over 3 years for First Nations schools across Canada with annual increases of 4.5% pledged, $500 million over 7 years for infrastructure, and $160 million for an implementation fund. The plan calls for minimum education standards, comparable to provincial standards off-reserve, and allows for the development of First Nation education authorities, while incorporating language and culture programming. “Today is not the culmination of our work, it is the beginning,” said Atleo. CBC | AFN News Release | PMO News Release | APTN News 

Cenovus donates $900,000 to AB’s Northland School Division

Cenovus Energy has committed $900,000 over 3 years to the Northland School Division of Northern Alberta. The donation will support 2 key programs designed to benefit all students across the division: the Literacy Initiative and Career and Technology Studies (CTS). The funding for the Literacy Initiative will allow for increased materials that support Aboriginal culture, community development, and professional development sessions. CTS provides hand-on training designed to help students stay in school and find careers that match interests and talents; the funding will provide for CTS trailers and kits for schools, field trips, PSE institution visits, and professional development for staff. “We value our partnership with Cenovus in an effort to enhance literacy materials and CTS programs across our jurisdiction,” said Donna Barrett, NSD61’s Superintendent of Schools. “Support from Cenovus will increase our ability to provide quality learning experiences for all students.” Northland News Release 

UVic launches new Master’s in Indigenous Communities Counselling

The University of Victoria has launched a new Master’s degree in Indigenous Communities Counselling leading to provincial and national certification, reportedly the first of its kind in Canada. The program, developed at UVic, provides coursework that follows national guidelines and certification requirements for professional counsellors, but is grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and includes courses on spirituality and healing, cross-generational counselling, and topics on the importance of ceremony, culture and language. The 3-year program is offered part-time on-campus and in the community, enabling learners to continue working and/or caring for families while studying. A pilot version of the program ran successfully in 2011-12; the first cohort of the new master’s program began this January. “The program will directly address the urgent need for professional counsellors who are able to provide culturally relevant counselling services to Indigenous individuals, families and communities,” says Anne Marshall, an education professor who co-chaired the initial advisory committee that led to the program. UVic News Release

Seabridge Gold donates $100,000 to trades training at NWCC

BC’s Northwest Community College has received $100,000 from Seabridge Gold Inc for NWCC’s new Intro to Trades 10 program offered in conjunction with the School Districts of Smithers, Terrace and Hazelton. The program will introduce 5 trades to Grade 10 youth in the participating districts, with the hopes of encouraging youth to pursue careers and training in trades. “Seabridge Gold’s generous donation demonstrates its continued support for students, who will be the future skilled workforce of Northwest BC,” said Denise Henning, President of NWCC. “This support further enhances high school students’ introduction and access to PSE, offering them a pathway to quality training and a successful career in the trades.” NWCC News Release | Seabridge News Release

Canadore introduces new Aboriginal-language mental health program

Canadore College has been chosen by the Mental Health and Innovation Fund (MHIF) and Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to develop the first Aboriginal language-specific Mental Health First Aid program in Canada. MHFA materials are being translated into Ojibway and Cree, First Nation-specific case studies are being compiled, and Canadore employees are being trained to deliver the new program and educate additional trainers. Canadore hopes to have the program ready to deploy in First Nations communities and to front-line staff at PSE institutions by September 2014. “Our work at Canadore’s First People’s Centre (FPC) provides us with insights into the mental health challenges facing Aboriginal communities across Ontario and beyond. The new Mental Health First Aid program is an important step in providing new tools to help people in crisis,” said Mary Wabano, Director of the FPC. Canadore is also celebrating a current 80.6% Aboriginal student retention rate, with 20% of the student body of First Nations, Métis, or Inuit ancestry. Canadore News 

MUN signs MOU with Nunatsiavut Government

An MOU has been signed between Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Nunatsiavut Government that will allow for new partnerships and collaboration in a variety of areas, including cultural research, policy development, leadership and administration. The agreement cites areas for further discussion as well, such as helping the Nunatsiavut Government increase capacity in primary research and analysis, and developing digital archives of the social history and culture of Labrador Inuit. “Our hope is that we can better preserve, share and celebrate the culture of Labrador Inuit with the help of Memorial’s academic resources, while the university and others will benefit from a greater understanding and appreciation of Inuit expressive culture and traditional knowledge,” stated Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo. As part of the MOU, MUN is encouraged to host Labrador Inuit community members to work on campus with researchers, and the Nunatsiavut Government is encouraged to host researchers and students, and to provide internship positions. MUN News Release  

SIIT and uSask business school sign agreement

The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology and the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan have signed an agreement that will allow SIIT business graduates to use their credits towards a degree from Edwards. Specifically, graduates of the 2-year Business Diploma program will qualify as having completed the first 2 years of a 4-year uSask Bachelor of Commerce degree offered through Edwards. Previously, not all credits would have transferred to count towards the degree. The agreement is the first between the 2 PSE institutions. “We are committed to creating new opportunities for educational achievement of Aboriginal students,” said Edwards’ Dean Daphne Taras. “This agreement establishes a clean and clear route from SIIT to the Edwards School that will develop the next generation of Aboriginal business leaders.” SIIT News 

Federal government launches improved income assistance program

The first set of proposals have been approved under the federal government’s improved on-reserve Income Assistance Program. The initiative will provide personalized support and skills training to almost 4,000 First Nations youth across 70 communities. The program, aimed at youth aged 18-24 who are currently receiving income assistance, will provide access to a range of services designed to increase job prospects and offer support for the transition to the workforce, including basic life-skills training, skills training, and career counselling. Currently, 19 First Nations communities in BC, 11 in AB, 5 in QC, 4 in MB, and several in SK have announced plans to incorporate the new program. “Through our partnerships with industry, we see a vast number of employment and business prospects for our community members, today and in the future. This funding strengthens our ability to help prepare our members to take advantage of these exciting and long-term opportunities,” stated Eric Sylvestre, Tribal Chief, Meadow Lake Tribal Council. AANDC News Release | AANDC News Release (BC) | AANDC News Release (AB) | AANDC News Release (QC) | AANDC News Release (MB)

Ontario school boards support Indigenous education

The Peel District School Board has voted to adopt the Charter of Commitment on First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education, a document drafted by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA). The charter is “intended to articulate school boards’ support and value of Aboriginal education, learning models, culture, language, history and identity in the community. The commitment is also supposed to ensure there is a mechanism for school boards to periodically report on their progress towards achieving the charter goals.” The Peel district has also introduced a voluntary, confidential self-identification policy for Aboriginal students. The Bluewater District School Board has issued a motion calling on the federal government for “full statutory guarantee for funding for education for First Nation children that is stable, sustainable and needs-based,” and has called for the endorsement of OPSBA’s Charter of Commitment on First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education. Caledon Enterprise | The Post

BrandonU’s international students learn Aboriginal traditions

At Brandon University, students in the English for Academic Purposes program (EAP) participate in workshops designed to enhance knowledge of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The majority of students in the EAP program are from foreign countries, and the workshops deliver a “deeper view of the Aboriginal culture,” says one student. The sessions, called Walk a Mile in My Moccasins, are led by staff at BrandonU’s Indigenous People’s Centre and include moccasin-making, story-telling, and traditional foods. “This is a shining example of how BrandonU’s cross-cultural activities add to our students’ experience,” says Director of International Activities David Rowland.BrandonU News Release