Indigenous Top Ten

May 7, 2014

Atleo resigns, First Nations education legislation put ‘on hold’

Following the sudden resignation of Shawn A-in-chut Atleo as the Assembly of First Nations’ (AFN) National Chief on Friday, the controversial First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act has been put on hold until the AFN “clarifies its position” on the legislation. Atleo was criticized by various chiefs and First Nations communities for his support of the legislation, which was viewed by many as unilateral and lacking proper consultation. In his resignation speech, Atleo stated, “this work is too important and I am not prepared to be an obstacle to it or a lightning rod distracting from the kids and their potential.” Ontario AFN Regional Chief Stan Beardy recently called for a meeting of chiefs to discuss the bill and its implications; it is not yet clear how the AFN will respond to Atleo’s resignation. Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Pam Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, have both spoken out against the bill and are cautioning the AFN against making any statements for or against the bill without further consultation with First Nations. CBC | Globe and Mail | National Post | CBC (Beardy) | AFN News Release | APTN News

StFX prof develops entrepreneurial training program for Indigenous women

Indigenous women in Nova Scotia are participating in a hands-on ‘basics of business start-up’ course designed to provide the skills and experience necessary to launch a small business. Monica Diochon, a business professor at St Francis Xavier University, travelled to Eskasoni First Nation to deliver the first stage of the entrepreneurial pilot program; the women will develop a business plan, learn marketing analysis and other important skills, and launch a group-based venture. The program is the result of an earlier research project that identified the desire of many Indigenous women to own their own businesses. “This pilot program is an opportunity to give back to the community by designing a course tailored to the needs identified in the research,” Diochon said. “The opportunity to follow up on research findings with a practical application is rare and only possible through the support of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs’ Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program.” StFX News

Ontario distributes new treaties map to provincial schools

Ontario has developed a provincial First Nations and Treaties map that will be distributed to all elementary and high schools in the province as part of new school curriculum about treaties. The map will assist educators in teaching students about treaty history and “the shared history of First Nations and non-Aboriginal Ontarians.” The new curriculum was developed with input from First Nations leaders and aims to educate students about treaties, cultures, and First Nations' perspectives. “The province of Ontario exists as it does because First Nations and settlers made treaties in the past. Those treaties remain vital agreements today. A better understanding of those treaties through education, public awareness and discussion is fundamental to a more prosperous tomorrow for all Ontarians,” said Tom Bressette, Chief of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Ontario News Release | First Nations and Treaties Map

TD donates $400,000 to uLethbridge for Aboriginal initiatives

The University of Lethbridge has received a $400,000 donation from TD Bank Group to support initiatives designed to enhance the education experience for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students. The funds will support the First Nations’ Transition Program (FNTP), which assists students with the often-difficult transition to postsecondary education; the funding will also help with the creation of a First Nations’ Gathering Centre at uLethbridge, which would provide a culturally-sensitive space for students and educators to gather for cultural practices and other services. uLethbridge “places tremendous emphasis on the success of Blackfoot and other FNMI students,” says President Mike Mahon. “To successfully achieve this goal, an inclusive campus environment is critical. TD’s investment in this area will ensure FNMI students continue to receive enhanced supports that remove barriers to successful post-secondary outcomes.” uLethbridge News Release

SK school program sees improvement in class completion rates

A program at a Saskatoon school designed to improve class completion rates of Aboriginal students has caught the eye of a provincial committee looking for best practices and innovative approaches to Indigenous education. The Academic Adoption program at Bedford Road Collegiate pairs struggling students with a teacher or staff member who supports and mentors the student. The focus is on building a relationship between the student and the staff member, so that students can begin to feel more accountable and self-confident. The program was launched at Bedford Road in 2011, when the class completion rate for the school’s First Nations and Métis students was around 36%; only 3 years later, the completion rate is closer to 62%. “Students know that they have someone to turn to and students know they have someone who cares … Getting the students to understand that they can be successful, that's the first battle that we have to resolve. In the end obviously our goal is to increase the Inuit, Métis, First Nation graduation rate but sometimes that first part is a bit of a struggle,” explains Bedford Road Principal Cody Hanke. News Talk 650

Ontario launches Aboriginal youth entrepreneurship program

Ontario has committed $1.35 million over 3 years to launch a pilot program of the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program (AYEP) in 10 high schools across the province. AYEP was designed by the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI) and provides First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in grades 11 and 12 with the knowledge and skills to develop business plans and create product- or service-based businesses. Students are mentored by Aboriginal business owners and receive training in various areas related to entrepreneurship, including website building and financial services. Schools in Greater Sudbury, Fort Frances, Kenora, London, Sioux Lookout, Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Wallaceburg will participate in the pilot program, bringing the total number of participating schools in the country to 44. Carlana Lindeman, Education Program Director for MAEI, noted the benefits of the program for students, including boosting attendance. “[The program] also enables them to use the Seven Grandfather Teachings in an application process, to see how those high levels of thought can be invoked in any type of business or daily life.” Ontario News Release |Sudbury Star

BC commits $4.4 million for community-based training programs

The BC government has announced $4.4 million to support the Aboriginal Community-Based Delivery Partnerships Program, which provides PSE and training to Aboriginal learners in their home communities. Communities or public PSE institutions must submit program proposals in order to be eligible for the funding. Training programs can cover a diverse range of specializations, including training for employment in the resource sector, eco-tourism, wildlife management, and Indigenous language instruction. “We know BC’s need for highly-trained workers will continue to grow, particularly in the areas of skills and technical training,” said Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk. “Training partnerships under the Aboriginal Community-Based Partnerships programs will help to fill that need.” The funding is through the recently launched BC Skills for Jobs Blueprint: Re-engineering Education and Training initiative, designed to align training and education with projected job openings. BC News Release

APTN and MusiCounts partner to provide instruments to Mi’kmaq schools

In Nova Scotia, 2 Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) community schools will benefit from a partnership between Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity. Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School and Mi'kmawey School in Membertou will each receive grants worth $10,000 in the form of almost 20 new instruments for student use through the Band Aid program, which is designed to ensure that all Canadian students, regardless of socio-economic status, have access to music programs through school. "APTN recognizes the significance of musical legacy to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples’ cultures," says Jean La Rose, APTN Chief Executive Officer. "Music is an inspiration for many, and it’s important to foster creative expression at an early age.” The schools were chosen based on criteria such as “economic need in the school community, size and condition of the schools’ instrument inventory, dedication of school staff and overall impact a grant will make within a community.” MK News Release

Cameco and Indspire partner to provide new scholarship for Aboriginal learners

Indspire has announced the creation of the Cameco Corporation Scholarship for First Nation and Métis Students, part of Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries and Scholarship Awards program. Cameco has provided $200,000 for the scholarship fund, which will be awarded over 4 years beginning in 2014–15. “Research shows that lack of financial support is the most significant barrier to success in attaining a post-secondary education for Indigenous students,” said Roberta Jamieson, President of Indspire. “By partnering with Indspire, Cameco is expanding the impact of its investment in students in northern Saskatchewan.” Indspire News Release

Bell commits $1 million for mental health resources in the North

As part of its Bell Let’s Talk mental health awareness campaign, Bell has announced $1 million to support community mental health services in Canada’s 3 northern territories. The funding will be distributed over 5 years, with a focus on programs and initiatives that benefit First Nations and Inuit youth. Nunavut Kamatisiaqtut Help Line is the first major beneficiary, receiving almost $70,000 and communications support from Northwestel, Bell’s northern subsidiary. The help line provides anonymous and confidential telephone counselling to northerners. Future funds will be directed to programs that offer mental health support and initiatives that focus on removing the stigma of mental health. The announcement was made as part of Olympian Clara Hughes’ visit to the North as part of her Big Ride campaign. “As we celebrate the continuing success of Clara’s Big Ride in growing awareness and action in mental health across Canada, Bell Let’s Talk is proud to launch a program that directly addresses the need for expanded mental health services here in the North,” said George Cope, President of Bell Canada. “With guidance from local leaders, we’re eager to move mental health forward in communities across Canada’s territories.” Bell News Release | Nunatsiaq Online