Indigenous Top Ten

March 26, 2014

AB announces plans for new assistant deputy minister of FNMI education

Alberta’s Education Minister Jeff Johnson recently announced a plan to establish an assistant deputy minister of First Nations, Métis and Inuit education, as part of the province’s efforts to address the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. “This new leadership role will provide a focal point within the ministry and government for implementing (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) education policies, programs and initiatives,” read a letter to ministry staff. “It will help ensure that our work with partners — school jurisdictions, parents and communities — is well aligned, and that we continue to take a co-ordinated and collaborative approach to FNMI education in the province.” AB’s plans include rewriting curriculum and making learning opportunities more flexible so students can learn at their own pace. Closer relationships between school districts and communities have seen success in AB, particularly in Fort McMurray, where the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students has almost closed. Edmonton Journal

uSask, Buffy Sainte-Marie create Saskatchewan Cradleboard Initiative

The University of Saskatchewan has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cradle Board Teaching Project Founder and recording artist Buffy Sainte-Marie to create the Saskatchewan Cradleboard Initiative (SCI). The initiative is a cross-cultural educational resource project to support kindergarten through grade 8 students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The program’s curriculum will be developed by uSask students, Sainte-Marie’s Nihewin Foundation Canada, and Aboriginal educators; it will support the provincial science curriculum’s explicit mandate to co-present Indigenous and western perspectives on science at all levels of learning. An open-access website will host resources such as learning challenges for youth and news stories featuring Aboriginal youth taking a leadership role in the shaping of their education. “The contributions of First Nations to science and technology have been immense, and are a source of pride and inspiration to Aboriginal school kids, once they are provided with opportunities to learn about them,” says Sainte-Marie. “I am continually grateful and appreciative of those people who are able to expand teaching and learning across cultural borders.” uSask News Release

VIU launches 2 new Indigenous knowledge initiatives

Vancouver Island University has recently introduced 2 initiatives designed to broaden knowledge and awareness of Indigenous ways of knowing and to encourage cultural sensitivity. The new Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation is designed to provide leadership and education through advanced research and public dialogue around pre-Confederation Treaties and the challenges of reconciliation. “The critical project of treaty implementation and reconciliation requires a deep and shared understanding of the history of Crown-First Nation relations and a clear and shared view of what is required for reconciliation today in its fullest and proper form…” said Interim Director Douglas White. Also, VIU recently began incorporating Aboriginal perspectives into the Health Care Assistant (HCA) program, including guidance to the students from Elders and teachings about culture and histories. VIU has offered an Aboriginal-focused HCA at the Cowichan campus the last several years, but now all students in the HCA program at 3 VIU campuses will have access to Indigenous knowledge. VIU News Release (Centre) | VIU News Release (HCA)  

NWT funds student retention and e-learning projects

Yellowknife Catholic Schools have received support to continue the Dô Edàezhe Program, an initiative designed to address student drop outs, disengagement, and other challenges students face. “The Yellowknife Catholic Schools Dô Edàezhe program was designed to develop resiliency and leadership skills in at-risk youth and has succeeded in meeting many of its goals,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Jackson Lafferty. Through its Education Renewal and Innovation (ERI) initiative, ECE is providing $623,000 to strengthen and expand the program; if new pilot projects are deemed successful after evaluation, the program may be expanded across the territory. ECE has also provided funding through ERI to an e-learning program offered by the Beaufort Delta Education Council. The e-learning program allows students to remain in home communities while accessing a range of distance learning opportunities. ERI funding of $500,000 for the project will also allow for the exploration of options to expand e-learning opportunities across NWT. NWT News Release (Yellowknife) | NWT News Release (e-learning)

Queen’s and First Nations youth form mentorship project

A group of students from Queen’s University are travelling to a remote northern Ontario First Nation to provide mentorship and support to children in the community. The Queen’s students are members of the university rotary club and will travel to Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) to meet with children and help develop ideas for community development. "The youth know what needs to be done in their community and they know how to do it to a certain degree, but we want to provide them with the resources that they haven't been getting," explained Annie Hollis, a Queen’s student who has previously visited KI. The mentors will also provide leadership and public speaking seminars to the children. CTV

MB institutions host First nations youth for science, career fairs

Manitoba’s annual First Nations Science Fair, held at the University of Manitoba earlier this month, welcomed almost 500 students from communities around the province. Reportedly one of the fastest growing science fairs in Canada, organizers noted an addition of about 100 students this year over last. Students enjoy the travelling and networking, as well as “…seeing the work that each other does and from that exposure and collaboration, they go home with more ideas and more motivation,” stated Rudy Subedar, a manager with the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, which partners with uManitoba to put on the fair every year. uManitoba, the University of Winnipeg, and Red River College all hosted events last week for Indspire’s Soaring: Indigenous Youth Career Conference. Students got the opportunity to take campus tours and take part in career workshops, and also received information about Indspire’s scholarship and bursary programs. CBC | Indspire website

SK First Nations form strategic partnerships

Nine Saskatchewan First Nations have formed the Treaty 6 Education Council in order to streamline and consolidate second-level service delivery. “We’re just trying to bring it back together, just to help us find efficiencies to be reinvested back into services and supports and programs for the schools and students,” explained Pat Bugler, the new Director of Education for the council. The second-level services covered by the agreement include curriculum development and support, treaty-language and culture co-ordination, professional development, supervision and evaluation of teachers, special education services, speech services, educational psychologist assessments, and training for those working with high needs students. A participating school from the Mosquito First Nation recently paired with a non-Aboriginal school from a local community for a day of activities and education involving Indigenous knowledge and traditions. The idea was for students to “get to know each other, form some relationships, deal with some of our feelings and beliefs and attitudes around how we get along and engage in culture, and share through shared histories and stories that we have,” said participating educator Sherron Burns. Battlefords News-Optimist (education council) | Battlefords News-Optimist (Mosquito)

Aurora College features language programs during Aboriginal Languages Month

NWT’s Aurora College is celebrating Aboriginal Languages Month by highlighting language and culture programming at the college. Aurora currently offers several classes in Aboriginal language and culture, including the Aboriginal Language and Cultural Instructor Program (ALCIP), which trains individuals to teach languages. There are also several courses that include components of Indigenous knowledge and traditions, and free evening language courses offered at several locations. “Programs like ALCIP allow Aurora College to work with each of our regions to deliver language programming in a way which best meets the region's and community’s needs. Language and culture go hand in hand. It is extremely important that we have a mechanism for our students to learn about our territory’s diverse heritage and culture," noted Dave Porter, Chair of Aurora’s School of Education. 9 of NWT’s 11 official languages are Aboriginal. Aurora News Release

Yukon-uAlberta course enriched by Indigenous Knowledge

The Yukon College-University of Alberta Northern Environmental and Conservation Sciences (ENCS) degree program includes Indigenous Knowledge, allowing instructors to encourage future scientists to consider Indigenous Knowledge and the social context of their work. Ellen Bielawski, a professor for the ENCS program, believes that “if scientists understand Indigenous Knowledge they will produce stronger analyses and interpretations of the North than if they restrict themselves only to western scientific methods.” Bielawski adds, “Science doesn’t have all the answers. Closing our minds to other forms of knowledge is not a good way to seek solutions to our problems. The world is complicated, and knowledge is like any other resource – the greater diversity in the different ways of knowing, the more we are enriched by it.”Yukon College News Release

New program to train workers for Madawaska Maliseet entertainment centre

The Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick and the Madawaska Maliseet Economic Development Corporation have launched a 15-week Entertainment, Events Organization, and Food Services program that will train workers for jobs in the First Nation's Grey Rock Entertainment Centre. The continuing education program, which is being supported by a $68,000 commitment from the Canadian government, will offer students training in computers, food and beverage service, an introduction to working in a casino, customer service, and special events coordination. "The importance of education cannot be overstated,” says Madawaska Maliseet First Nation Chief Patricia Bernard. "With CCNB's specialized curriculum, we can focus postsecondary education on the required skills necessary to provide jobs and grow our economy. The investment of education for our people (particularly our youth) and for our future is vital to the economic growth of our region." Canada News Release