Indigenous Top Ten

June 4, 2014

Chiefs vote to reject education bill

The First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA) has been rejected  by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in a resolution passed at a Special Chiefs Assembly last week. The AFN had previously supported the bill under the leadership of Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, but when he resigned in May the bill was put on hold. “Canada must withdraw Bill C-33 and engage in an honourable process with First Nations that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity leading to true First Nation jurisdiction of education based on our responsibilities and inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights,” said a statement issued by the chiefs. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office responded to the resolution, repeating that the legislation would not go forward without the support of the AFN and that no new funding would be invested without “real education reforms.” Valcourt stated, however, that the bill remains on hold while he considers his options and he has indicated he does not plan to go back to “square 1”. CBC (1) | CBC (2) | APTN News | Anishnabek News | Globe and Mail

University College of the North opens new campus

The University College of the North officially opened its new campus in Thompson, Manitoba on Friday. The $82-million, 84,400-square-foot facility provides space for 15 distance-learning classrooms, computer labs, a 60-seat lecture hall, math and science labs, a nursing simulation lab, a library, an Aboriginal student centre, and a child-care facility. The new campus will allow UCN to increase its number of students by almost 175. “By giving people access to high quality training and postsecondary education this new state-of-the-art campus means more opportunities for our young people to build their life right here in the North,” said Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger. UCN has also joined a partnership between the province, Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Red River College, Workplace Education Manitoba, and industry that will provide trades training and work experience to Aboriginal residents of northern MB. The province will provide $3.3 million in funding and Manitoba Hydro will provide $2.9 million for the initiative. MB News Release (1) | MB News Release (2)

Nunavut MLA calls for more English instruction in math classes

A Nunavut MLA has suggested the territory amend its Language of Instruction Regulations in order for math to be taught using more English. Education models under the current regulations require that 85–90% of instruction in Grades K–3 be delivered in an Inuit language, but MLA Joe Savikataaq is concerned that children are not getting a solid math foundation. According to Savikataaq, “education officials have noted that subjects such as mathematics cannot be taught in the Inuit language due to the lack of terminology.” Education Minister Paul Quassa responded that MLAs will review the Education Act and its language regulations, possibly considering math separately from other subjects. Other Inuktitut-speaking jurisdictions have made similar amendments; in 2011 Nunavik’s Kativik School Board began including English instruction in math classes in grades 1-3. Nunatsiaq Online

Students publish book about their First Nation’s history

Grade 4 and 5 students from the White Bear First Nation have created a book that relates aspects of the history of their First Nation, including the establishment of reservations, treaties, and traditional spirituality. The school is part of the Treaty 4 Success program, which “seeks to design and implement a common strategy with the goal of First Nation student success through student retention, literacy, numeracy, and community engagement.” The students’ book, White Bear First Nations, will now be used as an example for other schools participating in the program that wish to produce their own books. Executive Director Lori Whiteman explained that the program “reinforces that it’s a valid history and valid story to be told from each of the communities and each of those children is connected to those stories. It’s important for them to learn about that early in their education and to learn about it continuously throughout their learning experience in a First Nation school.” Carlyle Observer

Aboriginal students policy paper released by OUSA

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) has released a policy paper on Aboriginal students with several recommendations designed to improve education outcomes. OUSA notes the connections between low high school completion rates and low PSE completion rates, and therefore recommends that the federal and provincial governments invest in Aboriginal K-12 education both on- and off-reserve. OUSA further recommends that the provincial government work to better integrate Aboriginal content into Ontario school curricula and all teacher-training programs. Other recommendations include the removal of the federal cap on funds for Aboriginal education; expansion of the Aboriginal Bursary program; targeted funding for Métis learners; sustainable, long-term funding for Aboriginal student centres; dedicated career services for Aboriginal students; and institutional transformations to “ensure Ontario’s universities provide a welcoming environment, that values Aboriginal cultures and systems of knowledge.” OUSA is also calling for an evaluation framework that will determine the impact of recommended initiatives. OUSA News | Full Report

Métis students in MB to benefit from new MOU

Winnipeg’s Red River College recently signed an MOU with the Manitoba Métis Federation and Louis Riel Institute that will result in further collaboration between the signatories and the establishment of a new bursary for Métis students. Matching $200,000 donations by RRC and MMF will be used for the bursary. A new working group created by the partnership will focus on education, business, and growing industry partnerships to increase economic prospects for MB’s Métis populations. “The collective efforts of those involved … will benefit Métis people in Manitoba [by] improving access to training and employment opportunities,” says David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation. RRC News

Victoria Native Friendship Centre

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre in Saanich, BC recently celebrated the opening of its new library. The library has been made possible through a combination of grants, book donations, and volunteer support. The collection currently numbers around 2,500 titles, including aboriginal fiction, art, languages, history, spirituality, and children’s books from Indigenous writers. The University of Victoria has provided assistance with cataloging the books, and the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) donated furniture and provided guidance. Rina Hadziev with the GVPL noted the benefits of having a library in the friendship centre: “we want libraries to be where people are … and the friendship centre is already a cultural gathering space, so it’s a natural fit.” Victoria Times-Colonist

Nanaimo early-learning program improves children's cognitive skills

A new early-learning program has been launched in Nanaimo, BC, that is designed to improve cognitive skills and prepare preschoolers for school. The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program is relatively new to Canada; it is aimed at families facing language and/or cultural barriers, including recent immigrants and First Nations peoples. The program is home-based, and provides parents with tools for interacting with children, such as lessons on constructive play. Funding has been secured for 2 years, but the program is not covered by traditional funding programs and therefore funding must be sought through grants and other donations. Nanaimo’s HIPPY program is the result of a partnership between the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society and the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre. Nanaimo Daily News

Group of Métis youth to paddle traditional voyageur route

A group of Métis youth, all current PSE students or recent graduates, is embarking on a 3-month, 2,000km canoe trip following the traditional routes of Métis voyageurs. The journey is funded by the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and will see 10 youth travel from Ottawa to Thunder Bay using rivers and the Great Lakes waterways. The group will stop in 23 communities along the way to make presentations on Métis culture and contributions to the formation of Canada. “I feel like one of the most important things we can do for our community is spread the word and show other people our crafts and our traditions,” said one participant. 8 members of the group will paddle one large canoe, while 2 members drive a van along the route to provide ground support. The goal is to arrive in Thunder Bay in time for the MNO’s Annual General Meeting August 22. CBC

Toronto to host 2017 World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference

Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) in partnership with TAP Resources announced their successful partnership bid to host the 2017 WIPCE. WIPCE is an international conference started 30 years ago that brings together Indigenous representatives from around the world to share successes and strategies for Indigenous education. Rebecca Jamieson, President of Six Nations Polytechnic, stated “The WIPCE conference is unparalleled in its inspirational impact. It is an opportunity to affirm Indigenous knowledge and cultures, share best practices and recharge your batteries with hope and commitment for the future of Indigenous people and our planet. Six Nations Polytechnic extends a warm welcome to all to attend WIPCE 2017 to share in this positive and empowering experience.” NationTalk | WIPCE