Indigenous Top Ten

June 18, 2014

CBU increases Indigenous education initiatives

Cape Breton University recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Listuguj Education Directorate that will enable the university to offer its community studies BA in Listuguj First Nation, Quebec. CBU already delivers programming in First Nations communities across Nova Scotia; however, this marks the first time it will offer programming in a First Nations community in QC. The agreement will be facilitated by CBU’s Unama’ki College. “The MOU signed today signals a new strategy for Unama’ki College and CBU. Building on expertise and strong partnerships, we are extending our reach to offer CBU programming in new communities, with potential for more developments and new relationships across Canada and internationally,” said CBU VP International and Aboriginal Affairs Keith Brown. Additionally, researchers from CBU will be taking part in a national research project that will determine the most effective ways to integrate Indigenous and Western knowledge for water management in Canada. The project will provide knowledge to researchers, policy makers, and Indigenous communities in order to effectively and respectfully approach water management. CBU News Release (MOU) | Chronicle-Herald | CBU News (water)

uSask researchers and FSIN join national youth mental health initiative

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have partnered with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) to research ways to improve mental health services for youth. The partnership is part of TRAM (Transformational Research in Adolescent Mental Health), a national research initiative aimed at improving Canada’s ability to identify and treat mental illness in youth. Youth in rural and remote communities often have larger barriers to accessing mental health resources. The SK researchers will consult with First Nations partners to establish research plans and avenues for knowledge sharing. TRAM is relying on broad-based community partnerships to ensure the success of the initiative, including the national Native Mental Health Association of Canada, the FSIN, and the Indigenous People’s Health Research Centre, a joint initiative of the First Nations University of Canada, the University of Regina, and uSask. “Communities and front-line workers need more resources to provide effective services for their youth. Our team will draw upon the strength and knowledge found within First Nations communities to develop an evidence-base of best practice that is first and foremost grounded in First Nations culture and knowledge,” said Caroline Tait, SK project lead. uSask News

Ojibwa language preservation at work at AlgomaU

A student at Algoma University is working to preserve and enhance literacy in the Ojibwa language through the creation of a series of children’s books written in Ojibwa. Baby WayNa Ojibwa language books are designed for newborns to five-year-olds; created using fabrics, the books feature basic Ojibwa words and different textures and sensory images to enhance the learning experience. Creator Roxanne Martin would like to develop her business into a place where Indigenous women can come together to collaborate on book creation and design, expanding the Baby WayNa books into schools, libraries, and book stores. “I grew up not knowing my true identity as a First Nations person and I don't want my son to have the same experience,” explains Martin. Both Martin and her business have won several awards in recognition of her efforts to increase Ojibwa language knowledge. AlgomaU will host a Native Language Teachers’ Gathering this summer, a partnership between the Anishinaabekwe of the North Shore, Local of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, the Anishinaabe Initiatives Division (AID) of AlgomaU, and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. AlgomaU News(books) | AlgomaU News (gathering)

Interactive atlas of traditional Inuit trails released

Researchers at Carleton University, Dalhousie University, and Cambridge University have released an online, interactive atlas that details historical Inuit presence in Canada’s arctic. The SSHRC-funded Pan Arctic Inuit Trails Atlas brings together historic accounts, records, maps, and other textual items with Inuit oral histories and traditional routes and place names to provide “a unique window into the spatial extent and connectedness of Inuit occupancy, illustrating their historic sovereignty over a large area of Arctic land, sea and ice.” The atlas provides a visual mapping of Inuit trade and hunting routes and includes Inuit occupancy patterns as well as indirect patterns of non-Inuit exploration of the Canadian Arctic. Understanding the intricate patterns of Inuit trails is critical for appreciating Inuit history and occupancy of the Arctic. “Most of the Inuit trails and place names recorded by explorers and other Arctic visitors are still used by Inuit today,” said Co-Director Claudio Aporta from Dal. “Inuit have passed this knowledge from generation to generation for hundreds of years, indicating intensive and extensive use of land and marine areas across the North American Arctic.” Carleton News Release | Dal News | CTV News

NS signs agreement to continue and expand supports for Mi’kmaq students

Nova Scotia’s Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Karen Casey and members of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey last week signed the Mi'kmaq Education Agreement, which will ensure Mi’kmaq students attending NS’s public schools receive the programs and services needed for success. "This renewed agreement will continue to foster positive relations with the Mi'kmaq community, ensure a sound financial arrangement between school boards and Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey and provide stability for Mi'kmaq students in the public school system," said Casey. The agreement will remain in effect until July 2017 and will guide the delivery of programs and supports for Mi’kmaq students, streamline the processes surrounding tuition fee payments, provide opportunities for First Nations input into decisions affecting Mi’kmaq students, and increase awareness of First Nations history, culture, and languages in public schools. Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey currently has 12 communities participating in the agreement, with approximately 500 students attending public schools. NS News Release

OUSA releases report on inequities in experiential learning opportunities

A new report from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance explores the benefits of work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities in PSE, but expresses concern about WIL participation rates among marginalized populations. The report notes that Aboriginal students and students with disabilities are 3 times less likely to have participated in co-op placements, while low-income students’ participation rates are less than half the general average. Moreover, Aboriginal students and disabled students were more likely to have participated in an unpaid internship. OUSA notes that a number of systemic and social issues, including information gaps and outside commitments, may make WIL opportunities more difficult for some demographics, and suggests that co-op education fees may also be a significant barrier. OUSA Report

PSE institutions in MB and ON to offer trades summer camps for Aboriginal youth

Manitoba has announced the creation of the new Building for Tomorrow summer program, designed to introduce hundreds of youth to careers in the skilled trades through summer camps. A variety of camps will be offered by business, community, and education partners, including University College of the North, Red River College, Winnipeg Technical College, and Assiniboine Community College. Youth will receive introductions to trades such as carpentry and culinary arts through the program. MB’s Minister for Jobs and the Economy Theresa Oswald also announced a new apprenticeship program for students that will provide paid work experience with the MB government. Ontario’s Georgian College, in partnership with Hydro One, will also deliver a skilled trades camp for Aboriginal youth this summer, at its Owen Sound campus. MB News Release | Georgian News Release

BC PSE institutions support students who have lived in foster care

Several BC PSE institutions have recently responded to a challenge from BC’s independent Representative for Children and Youth to provide free tuition to students who have grown up in foster care. In 2013, Vancouver Island University launched a pilot program to issue waivers to former children in care; now, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology has responded as well, citing its mandate to provide educational opportunities for BC’s Aboriginal students. “NVIT is committed to accessible Aboriginal education. Given that over 50% of the 8,202 youth in care in BC are Aboriginal, this waiver provides NVIT an opportunity to be responsive and relevant to the unique learner population NVIT serves,” said Kylie Thomas, NVIT Director of Students & Registrar. Langara College and the University of Victoria have also recently created programs to provide tuition relief for students who grew up in care. Beginning in fall 2014, Langara will allocate $200,000 annually in bursaries towards the costs of tuition and student fees. UVic, meanwhile, has created a $20,000 award that will be provided to a maximum of 5 eligible students. NVIT News Release | Langara News | Vancouver Sun | Times-Colonist

RBC report highlights successful Indigenous education and business initiatives

A new report released this week by RBC highlights the many successful RBC-funded initiatives that have helped improve Indigenous participation in education and the economy. "I have seen firsthand the difference education can make," says Chinyere Eni, National Director, Aboriginal Markets, RBC. "Through grants and donations towards after-school programs, extracurricular activities and financial literacy awareness programs, RBC has been able to promote and support youth education in Indigenous communities across Canada." Featured initiatives include the RBC After School Grants Project at Eleanor W Graham Middle School in New Brunswick, which has helped increase student attendance and engagement levels; Saskatoon’s Oskayak High School’s participation in the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program (AYEP), which inspires and empowers Aboriginal youth; and the Mi’Kmaw Economic Benefits Office of Nova Scotia, which uses videoconferencing to deliver economic development and other business training to remote communities. "At RBC, we understand that investing in meaningful employment opportunities, education and training makes a difference not only to the individual but to families and ultimately to communities," says Jenny Poulos, RBC Senior VP. RBC News Release | Full Report

CHEC and NAIITS hold Indigenous learning symposium

Manitoba’s Providence University College recently hosted Indigenous Peoples & Christian Higher Education – A Symposium, sponsored by Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC) and NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community. The focus of the symposium was developing cooperative ways to support Indigenous learners in their pursuit of “distinctive, Biblically sound, and academically rigorous programs of study, respectful of Indigenous worldviews.” Participants committed to creating a vision statement to guide efforts at indigenizing CHEC campuses, creating an online platform for the sharing of resources, and exploring the creation of a Circle for Indigenous Studies to benefit existing and future programs offered jointly by NAIITS and CHEC member-schools. CHEC includes 35 accredited Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries across Canada, serving over 17,500 students. CHEC News