Indigenous Top Ten

May 21, 2014

First Nations control of education

As the controversy over the proposed First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA) continues, CBC is highlighting 5 examples of successful models of First Nations-controlled education already in place: Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey in Nova Scotia; Seven Generations Education Institute in northern Ontario; Chief Atahm School/ T'selcéwtqen Clleqmél'ten in BC; Onion Lake Cree Education System in Saskatchewan; and Kahnawake Education Centre in Quebec. These examples of community-controlled education models have all been in place for more than 10 years. The debates around the FNCFNEA have triggered the resurgence of the long-dormant Confederacy of Nations, an oversight body within the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). The Confederacy has passed a resolution rejecting the education act and calling for the creation of a committee that would meet with federal officials to develop an education “accord.” The resolution will be discussed at an upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly, scheduled for later this month. CBC | Globe and Mail

UBC launches new Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health

The University of British Columbia has officially launched the new Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health (CEIH), an interdisciplinary initiative that will serve as the point of contact for internal support, training, and resources related to Indigenous health, and for all external health organizations and Indigenous communities. The establishment of the CEIH is part of UBC’s Aboriginal Strategic Plan; the new centre will support research into Indigenous health and increased collaboration with Indigenous communities, as well as developing partnerships with the BC First Nations Health Authority and other Indigenous organizations. “This new Centre will allow us to build synergies across our many diverse Indigenous health initiatives. By working with the First Nations Health Authority and other institutions in British Columbia, we will increase the number of Aboriginal students aiming to become health professionals, broaden our curriculum in Aboriginal health, and deepen our knowledge of the health challenges facing Aboriginal people,” said Gavin Stuart, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. UBC News Release

Unama’ki College receives funding to improve accessibility

Cape Breton University’s Unama’ki College has received $300,000 from the Nova Scotia government to study ways to make PSE more accessible for Aboriginal learners in the province. Unama’ki College provides flexible delivery options to students, allowing them to take courses online and occasionally on-reserve. The funding will allow CBU and Unama’ki to study the college’s program and delivery models and the possibility of using a similar model at other PSE institutions in the province. "I'm glad more students across the province will be able to enjoy that experience," said one Unama’ki student. "These opportunities allow the students to flourish and grow as strong, confident Aboriginal community members, who can then give back to their own communities in positive ways." Funding was provided through NS’s Excellence and Innovation Fund, which supports universities while encouraging innovation and cost reduction methods.NS News Release | CBU News Release | Chronicle Herald

New Indigenous radio show to feature Aboriginal musicians, language

A new Indigenous radio show has launched in BC, with the goal of educating the public about the culture, language, and history of 3 of Vancouver Island’s First Nations. The Snuneymuxw, Stz'uminus, and Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nations are involved with the show, which will feature local Aboriginal musicians, interviews with Elders, and Hul'qumi'num language clips. Snuneymuxw Elder Geraldine Manson expressed her excitement for the show, which will be a way of reaching out to area youth. "Just to hear the songs and stories. In the old days, that was a way of teaching our young people. A way of sharing a life history," said Manson. Snaw-naw-as councillor Natasha Bob spoke of the radio show as a way for the local Indigenous communities to share their stories. "I think that it has potential to encourage people to be more comfortable with the local culture and that there will be a level of understanding and humility," she said.Nanaimo Daily News

Release of culturally-relevant assessment tool for Adult Basic Education in the North

Yukon College recently hosted the first ever Northern Adult Basic Education (NABE) Symposium, welcoming over 200 educators from across the 3 northern territories. NABE sessions focused on a range of topics, including the importance of community and industry partnerships, language renewal, Elder input in curriculum, and characteristics of good online learning. There was also a presentation about the Nunavut Adult Placement Assessment (NAPA), a 27-month pilot project that recently concluded. NAPA is reportedly Canada’s first culturally relevant placement tool developed for a college system; it assesses adult learners at the beginning and end of programs to determine their level of reading, writing, and comprehension in the English language. The NAPA model can be adjusted to reflect regional differences, enabling the adoption of the model by other northern institutions. Arctic College News Release |Yukon College News Release

Atlantic Aboriginal economic development research now available for schools

The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat (APC) has launched 2 new research publications designed to promote economic development in Atlantic Canada’s Aboriginal communities. The 2 volumes, products of the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program (AAEDIRP), feature case studies and completed research on First Nations economic development, language, and education. Aboriginal Measures for Economic Development examines the “benefits, practices and challenges of Mi’kmaw and Maliseet Language Immersion programs” and the connection to improved academic success. Aboriginal Knowledge for Economic Development explores Indigenous measures of economic development, and “illustrates the key challenges in establishing and maintaining socially responsible economic development that is beneficial for Aboriginal communities.” The 2 books are designed for use in academic institutions by faculty and students. APC Knowledge Sharing

VIU students get involved with First Nations communities

Students at Vancouver Island University have had recent opportunities to get involved with local Indigenous communities, fostering the exchange of knowledge and encouraging further avenues for cross-cultural education. VIU athletes participated in the 11th annual Spuptitul language competition, which provides a fun environment to test local elementary and secondary students in their use and applications of the Hul'qumi'num language. Sports workshops allowed the students to learn and use Hul'qumi'num terms in familiar games such as basketball and lacrosse. Last month, VIU’s Office of Aboriginal Education and Health and Human Services organized the second annual Seasons of Health and Healing forum, a 2-day summit that allowed students and faculty, as well as members of local health organizations to learn about traditional ways of healing and cultural practices in the Snuneymuxw Nation’s Big House. “We work with so many First Nation communities, and being able to understand a bit more about their culture, and what their cultural needs are, is really important,” said one student participant. VIU News (Language) | VIU News (Health)

Funding program at Ryerson enhances educational experience of Aboriginal students

Ryerson University is highlighting its Aboriginal Faculty Student Staff Support Fund, available through Ryerson's Aboriginal Education Council, which supports Aboriginal members of the Ryerson community in research, course project work, and conference and symposia participation. “This fund is critical in ensuring we provide every opportunity to Ryerson Aboriginal students—to assist in the development of their social capital, contribute to their leadership development and finally it also provides opportunity to learn directly from Aboriginal knowledge keepers, academics, and community folks who are contributing to the growth and development of our Aboriginal community,” said Monica McKay, Director of Aboriginal Initiatives. Ryerson News

MB educators focus on Aboriginal education

Educators in Manitoba are working to improve various aspects of Indigenous education in the province, according to the president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS). Paul Olson writes that “the proper discussion on Aboriginal education in Manitoba is about making schools supportive and relevant to all the kids we teach, and also to making schools and texts and resources reflective of themselves or their families.” Olson notes the efforts of the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents (MASS), which issued a position paper on Aboriginal education in 2013 titled “Transforming Manitoba Public Education: A View to the Future” that was endorsed by MTS and the Manitoba School Boards Association. In addition, MTS has planned a summit with the “sole purpose of making that report into a lived reality for the students and communities we serve.” The summit, called Emamawi Witatoskemitowak (Cree for We Are All Working Together) has a goal of mapping out pathways for further inclusion of Aboriginal education, with the involvement of local elders and Indigenous organizations. Portage Daily Graphic | MASS position paper

Faculty and staff participate in Aboriginal education PD at Confederation College

Ontario’s Confederation College recently hosted a professional development conference that focused on supporting and advancing Aboriginal learning. Over 300 staff and faculty participated in the conference, which included keynote speakers discussing Aboriginal education as well as sessions and workshops on a variety of topics ranging from strategies for including Aboriginal perspectives in the classroom to traditional cultural practices. More than 20 guest speakers were on hand to lead the workshops and share their knowledge. “The goal is to encourage conversations about working with Aboriginal students in an educational setting,” said Bryanna Scott, Academic Manager, School of Health and Community Service/Negahneewin Programs. “We are providing customized learning opportunities so our faculty and staff can design their own professional development experience and build their resources to fit their specific needs.” Confederation News Release