Indigenous Top Ten

July 2, 2014

uToronto to create institute for Indigenous health

The University of Toronto will establish a new institute dedicated to Indigenous health, thanks to a $10-million donation from Michael and Amira Dan. The institute will be housed at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and will be interdisciplinary, involving faculty from various departments at the university. An advisory committee will be developed to ensure community input; the institute will have a focus on community-based collaboration and knowledge sharing and translation, with best practices and research to be shared with global partners. "The actual creation of an institute that merges traditional and contemporary experience in health is a truly exciting development for Indigenous peoples the world over,” said Elder Fred Kelly, a member of the Ojibways of Onigaming and a citizen of the Anishinaabe Nation. “It is noble in vision and bold in mission. Its spirit of innovativeness is a dream coming true." uToronto News

BC commits $3.9 million for Aboriginal initiatives

The BC government has committed more than $3.9 million in support of Aboriginal Service Plans. The Service Plans are developed co-operatively by PSE institutions and Aboriginal communities, organizations, and institutes and consist of programs such as Elders-in-residence, cultural learning, mentoring, partnership development, and program development and delivery. “We want to make sure that Aboriginal students in British Columbia have the means to fulfil their educational and employment goals,” said Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. “The Aboriginal Service Plans are a way to bring together post-secondary institutions and Aboriginal communities to provide the education and training needed to take advantage of economic opportunities.” The Aboriginal Service Plans fall under BC’s Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Training Policy and Framework and Action Plan that was launched in 2012. The Framework aims to increase the number of Aboriginal students transitioning from K-12 to PSE, as well as to increase the number of credentials awarded to Aboriginal people in the province. BC News Release

Website aimed to decolonize education created by Trent students

Students at Trent University have launched a new website that highlights initiatives across Canada that aim to decolonize education and change the ways Canadians think about First Nations culture, history, and knowledge. Transforming Relations: A Collaborative Collection includes descriptions of various projects and initiatives that have been developed across Canada, both by PSE institutions and other organizations. “Other researchers in this area have been interested in establishing this foundational documentation as a first step in being able to assess the types of initiatives that can have an impact,” said Lynne Davis, a professor in Trent’s Indigenous Studies department. The website currently notes more than 150 initiatives, including cultural awareness events, experiential learning opportunities, and anti-colonial training, representing a variety of approaches and ideological orientations. As part of National Aboriginal History Month, Trent highlighted a number of initiatives designed to increase the “incorporation of Indigenous teachings and history into the framing of its interdisciplinary academic programs,” such as the Indigenous Environmental Studies program at Trent. Trent News (1) | Trent News (2)

HSBC donates to Pathways and Indspire to improve programs for Indigenous youth

HSBC Bank Canada has made 2 significant donations that will help Indigenous students in Canada succeed. A donation of $300,000 over 3 years to Indspire, coupled with a matching donation from the federal government, will create the HSBC Indigenous Business Award, providing financial assistance to Indigenous PSE students studying business. As well, HSBC has donated $400,000 to Pathways to Education Canada to create the Pathways HSBC Indigenous Educational Attainment Fund, which will support the delivery of Pathways programs to more than 400 Indigenous youth annually. Pathways programs are delivered in partnership with local schools and provide tutoring, mentoring, and financial assistance to remove barriers to education. Pathways President Vivian Prokop said: "HSBC's commitment to making a real and lasting difference in the lives of Indigenous youth is truly a long-term investment in building communities. This program recognizes the unique challenges our students face and provides the skills that youth need to succeed both in and out of the classroom." HSBC News Release | Pathways News Release

Innovative arts program helps students improve test scores

Participation in a program developed by The Royal Conservatory of Music is being credited with the above-average test scores of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in northern Alberta’s Wood Buffalo region. The Learning Through the Arts Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) integrates arts activities into the core curriculum, “yielding dramatic improvements in academic participation and achievement for 3,000 students enrolled in the program.” Results from Provincial Achievement Tests showed that students across the region, and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in particular, improved their own scores over previous years as well as beating provincial averages in several instances. The program will soon be introduced to schools in Thunder Bay, ON’s Lakehead school district. ​"These students become more engaged in school, they're happier to come to school," said Angela Elster, Senior VP of research and education with the Royal Conservatory. Royal Conservatory News Release | CBC

Cameco donates to in-school paediatric clinic

An innovative program at a Saskatoon elementary school has received a funding boost of $500,000 from Cameco. The Paediatric Clinic at St Mary’s school is a partnership between Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Saskatoon Tribal Council, and the University of Saskatchewan Department of Paediatrics. The clinic provides health care services to children at the school that otherwise may not have access to health care due to barriers such as distance, lack of transportation, or inconvenient operating hours. The clinic has been in operation since 2007, and school officials report an increase in attendance and academic performance that is at least partially credited to the clinic. The clinic is fully integrated into the school system, offering “comprehensive healthcare support for chronic medical conditions; mental health services including evaluation, treatment, crisis intervention and counselling; and prevention and intervention services.” The clinic at St Mary’s serves as a best practice example for similar programs now being offered at other schools in the city. Saskatoon Tribal Council News

SK partnerships to benefit First Nations youth

There are 2 new partnerships in Saskatchewan that are designed to improve education outcomes for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in the province. The Whitecap Dakota First Nation has signed an agreement with the Saskatoon Public School Division (SPSD) that will bring Whitecap students under the jurisdiction of SPSD. Students in Pre-K to Grade 4 will remain at the elementary school on the Whitecap reserve, which will now be considered an SPSD school. Older students will be bussed in to Saskatoon to attend school. Whitecap students will now have access to the services of school division professionals such as counsellors, educational psychologists, and speech pathologists; teachers at the Whitecap school will now be eligible for provincial employment benefits, making recruitment easier for the First Nation. The second partnership involves the Yorkton Tribal Council and the Good Spirit School Division, who have teamed up under the Invitational Shared Services Initiative (ISSI), which provides funding for schools that partner to pool resources. "I can see it having an impact on not only our First Nations students, but I think having an impact overall as well," said Dwayne Reeve, Director of Education with the Good Spirit School Division. StarPhoenix | Leader-Post | SK News Release

Carleton receives funding to enhance Aboriginal education projects

Carleton University has recently received funding to increase and enhance initiatives designed to improve the educational success of its students, and to improve Aboriginal research ethics. $150,000 in funding from The Counselling Foundation of Canada and a $31,000 donation from a private donor will enhance Carleton’s Aboriginal Enriched Support Program (AESP) by offering paid mentorship and internships for Aboriginal students. Mentors work with local Aboriginal high school students, encouraging participation in PSE and leading to better retention and graduation rates. In addition, Carleton has received $50,000 from Canada’s Secretariat for Responsible Research towards a 10-day Summer Institute on Aboriginal Research Ethics planned for summer 2015. “Positive action and change require research and we want to build an understanding of ethical best practices around the life cycle of Aboriginal research,” said Katherine Graham, Senior Advisor to the Provost. “It is important that researchers have this in their tool kits.” Carleton News Release (AESP) | Carleton News Release(ethics)

New study finds Indigenous employees seek socially-conscious employers

According to a new study, Indigenous PSE graduates are more likely to be interested in working for an employer that “focus[es] on social, environmental and ethical responsibilities, and [that has] a corporate culture that is accepting of minorities and supports gender equality.” However, according to the report, employers may be failing to attract these potential employees by not clearly communicating their involvement in socially responsible causes. “[Companies] are recognizing there is a lot of value, but they are looking at how to portray themselves in a way that is relevant to these populations,” said one spokesperson for the research firm. Many companies have developed outreach or employee support groups, such as TD Bank’s Aboriginal Employee Circles. Companies must also be mindful of the desire of many Aboriginal employees to return to home communities for mentoring and/or volunteer work. “Being a role model is very critical to the First Nations people as they want to give back,” noted TD VP and head of the Aboriginal employee committee Monique Bateman. Globe and Mail

Obama reveals plans to enhance Indigenous education in US

On a recent trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, President Obama announced a number of measures designed to strengthen education in Indigenous communities across the US. First, a Blueprint for Reform has been released that will guide the Bureau of Indian Education towards achieving one overarching goal: “for tribes to deliver a world-class education to all students attending BIE schools.” Second, a Secretarial Order has been issued that will serve to redesign the Bureau of Indian Education into a “School Improvement Organization” that will serve as a resource provider for tribally-controlled schools. Third, Obama announced plans to improve high speed internet services to BIE schools to enhance digital learning and resource-access. Fourth, waivers will be issued that will allow for greater flexibility in spending of federal funding. Fifth, BIE will pay for National Board Certification training for any interested existing BIE instructional staff, providing high-quality professional development opportunities. “We are very encouraged by the President’s remarks and his commitment to improving education for Native American youth,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II. “We are pleased that the President has demonstrated his dedication to strengthening the Bureau of Indian Education, through additional funding and policy improvements.” Indian Country Today (1) | Indian Country Today (2) | White House Press Release | Blueprint for Reform