Indigenous Top Ten

April 9, 2014

Indigenous institute receives over $11 million for training programs

The Seven Generations Education Institute in Fort Frances, Ontario, has received a commitment of $5.2 million from the federal government’s Skills and Partnership Fund to provide training and work experience to more than 300 Aboriginal learners in various in-demand occupations related to the mining sector in northwestern Ontario. The total investment in the project is $11.4 million, with funds from private sector and Aboriginal organizations adding to the federal funding. Successful participants are expected to gain employment in occupations such as mining or trucking; it is estimated that the mining industry will need 145,000 new workers over the next decade. “Today’s federal government announcement provides Seven Generations Education Institute with the opportunity to support Aboriginal learners with access to much-needed training and skills to participate in the mining industry and contribute to the Canadian economy,” said Delbert Horton, CEO Seven Generations. Canada News Release |

Okanagan College announces new student support program

Okanagan College has created a new student support program for Indigenous learners, thanks in part to a $40,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation. The Academy of Indigenous Scholars is a culturally-relevant program designed to “empower students to take greater control of their education and fully utilize the services Okanagan College offers.” The program is open to all Indigenous students in first-year arts, science, and business programs; 30 students will be accepted for the program start in September 2014. The students must commit to continuing the program for the full year, developing a personalized achievement plan based on 4 pillars of available services: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical. “We’re focusing on helping students develop their whole selves not just the academic component of their education,” says James Coble, Director of Student Services. “Research suggests that those students who are in touch with their emotional needs and cultural heritage, do have a greater chance of success because they can draw on that strength to navigate their way through the system,” he says. Okanagan News Release

Technology to improve education and counselling in NU communities

A consortium of businesses has partnered to provide video conferencing technology to Nunavut communities in order to bring educational instruction and mental health counselling to northern youth. Cisco Canada is providing $1.6 million to expand a successful pilot project that brings science lectures to northern classrooms via high-definition video links in real time. It also allows northerners to share knowledge with people in the south. The online, weekly lectures are all designed to support current curriculum; preliminary research on the pilot program found a 16% increase in attendance. “This program is really about how we could look at immersive, interactive technologies to impact education,” said Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada. The same technology will be used to bring online mental health counselling to 10 Nunavut communities, with counselling provided by 10 child and youth psychiatrists and mental health workers from the TeleLink Mental Health Program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Maclean’s | Nunatsiaq Online

AB to include residential school history in K-12 curriculum

Alberta’s Minister of Aboriginal Relations Frank Oberle announced last month that all provincial curriculum from kindergarten to grade 12 will now include mandatory lessons on Indian Residential School (IRS) and treaty history. The announcement was made during the final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, held in Edmonton, AB. As part of the new curriculum program, teachers will receive training around residential school history and the perspectives of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in AB. "Starting with the youngest members of our society, Alberta commits to residential school survivors, their families and communities, that Albertans will hear your stories and know your truths," said Oberle. Thousands of people gathered for the final of 7 national events, which included statement gathering, traditional ceremonies, sharing circles, performances, art displays, and film screenings. The province of BC submitted documents listing thousands of children who died during the IRS era, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Amaujaq National Centre for Inuit Education offered a copy of First Canadians, Canadians First: The National Strategy on Inuit Education as an expression of reconciliation on behalf of the Inuit of Canada. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson announced a year of reconciliation from March 2014 to March 2015, as well as several initiatives designed to educate public employees about Aboriginal history and to create spaces in the city for traditional cultural practices. CTV News | APTN News | CBC (TRC) | Edmonton Sun | ITK News Release | CBC (Iveson)

New opportunities for Aboriginal journalists

The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) has announced a new CJF Aboriginal Journalism Fellowship, which will allow an early-career Aboriginal journalist the opportunity to explore an area of interest to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities while being hosted by CBC’s new Aboriginal centre. The fellowship provides travel and accommodation expenses, as well as a stipend and per diem for meals and expenses. "This is a very special new initiative for CJF," says Bob Lewis, Chair of the CJF. "It aims in a small way to help bridge the yawning gap between traditional news media and the oft-ignored stories of Canada's Aboriginal people.” On a similar note, Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) and Loyalist College have partnered to provide a scholarship for 2 Aboriginal journalists involved in JHR’s Northern Ontario Initiative to attend the Loyalist-Trent 8-week summer institute in journalism. The Northern Ontario Initiative is a community-based media training program that connects journalist mentors with individuals in northern and remote Indigenous communities, training and empowering them to add their voices to mainstream media coverage of Aboriginal issues. Attawapiskat participant Richard Spence notes, “This project helped me see that I could improve myself and improve my community by being able to write stories about it, and help give all of Canada an idea of what it's like on the rez.” CJF News Release |CJF website | JHR News Release | The Tyee

Mi’kmaq students can now read Robert Munsch books in Mi’kmaq language

Mi'kmaq educators in Cape Breton, NS have translated 7 children’s books by author Robert Munsch into Mi’kmaq. The translated books will be distributed to First Nations schools across the province, accompanied by a lesson plan and CD of the Mi’kmaq readings for teachers to use in class. The books were selected and translated by an advisory committee with members from each Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey (MK) community, who focused on books that could be accurately translated to Mi’kmaq. Janice Ciavaglia, a literacy consultant with MK, stated they wanted the children to feel a sense of home while in the classroom. The number of books available in Mi’kmaq is limited, and MK wanted the students “to see their language everywhere and feel that just because something is written in English does not mean they can't read it in Mi'kmaq," Ciavaglia said. Munsch has given permission for his books to be translated by all First Nations, reports CBC. CBC

PSE institutions in SK increase educational opportunities for Indigenous learners

The University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies have signed an agreement to work collaboratively to create programs, services, and initiatives that will benefit Indigenous learners. This MOU builds on an earlier agreement, signed in February, which allows SIIT students to transfer credits to programs in the Edwards School of Business at uSask. “Providing a seamless transition between our institutions will only serve to enhance our mutual goal of supporting the educational needs of Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan,” said Ilene Busch-Vishniac, uSask President. Also in SK, First Nations University of Canada and the Gabriel Dumont Institute have each received funding through Vale Potash Canada’s $50,000 Education Challenge. Vale’s competition welcomed proposals designed to increase education opportunities related to mining and engineering for the province’s Aboriginal population. FNUC’s submission was for a course titled Indigenous Natural Resources Development that will introduce students to the natural resources sector while including Indigenous and Western perspectives. uSask News Release |StarPhoenix | FNUC News Release

MNC discusses development of education strategy

At a recent seminar, the Métis National Council (MNC) focused on the need to develop a Métis Nation Education Strategy that would focus on “all aspects of the lifelong education continuum and will include a special focus on transitioning Métis students into the workforce.” The seminar was organized with 5 key objectives: increasing the learning outcomes of Métis learners; enhancing the cultural heritage and history of the Métis Nation in provincial educational curricula; identifying shared strategies, expertise, and best practices to accelerate improvements in Métis educational outcomes; enhancing broader understanding of Métis education issues and challenges; and establishing a structural platform for long-term change in Métis education. Participants also identified current best practices in Métis education, including the ASETS program (Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy), Métis Nation Endowments, and the establishment of Métis Nation educational institutions such as the Louis Riel Institute in Manitoba, the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatchewan, and the Rupertsland Institute in Alberta. “Education is one of the pillars of the Métis Nation Economic Development Strategy,” stated President Clément Chartier, “we will continue to use our relationship with the federal government under the Métis Nation Protocol and our relationship with the provinces through the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group to advance this process.” MNC News Release

BrandonU receives funding for research into Aboriginal health

Thanks to funding from the federal Canada Research Chair program, Brandon University is welcoming Yvonne Boyer, the new Tier ll Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Aboriginal Health and Wellness. Boyer’s focus is on the intersections of law and health in Indigenous communities, based on inherent and treaty rights to health care and actual health care delivery. “My goal is to continue work on advancing the constitutional status of inherent and treaty rights to health for Indigenous peoples in Canada,” says Boyer. The project has received $500,000 for 5 years. In addition, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded Boyer a grant of $66,474 to establish the Indigenous Community-Based Health Research Centre at BrandonU, which will facilitate interactions between the Indigenous community and scholars, students, and other stakeholders. Through the research centre, Boyer hopes to gather knowledge of pre-contact health practices, which will be “incorporated in the discussion about legal and policy issues surrounding contemporary Aboriginal health rights.”BrandonU News Release | CFI News Release

SK invests in Indigenous education

Saskatchewan has extended its Microsoft Licensing Agreement to include all 91 First Nations schools in the province, at a cost of $120,000. The announcement was made by Education Minister Don Morgan, who said the program is a step towards fulfilling the recommendations of a joint task force on Aboriginal education and employment. According to Don Dore of the Prince Albert Grand Council, First Nations schools have previously had to depend on free online software because the schools could not afford to equip all computers with Microsoft software. The program will also benefit administration at the schools and will bring them up to par with what the rest of the province is using. “Having updated software is essential for the use of information technology in learning, and will greatly contribute to the educational successes of First Nations students and the future leaders of Saskatchewan,” said Bobby Cameron, Vice Chief at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. SK’s Crown Investments Corporation has also announced it will extend the Aboriginal Bursary Program for another 5 years to help the province’s First Nations students succeed in PSE. The cost of the program renewal is estimated to be $2.2 million and will provide eligible students with $5,000 annually. Global News (software) | StarPhoenix | Global News (bursary)