Indigenous Top Ten

July 16, 2014

$25 M in funding announced for Aboriginal health initiatives

The federal government has announced $25 million in funding over 5 years for several research initiatives designed to promote health equity in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities in Canada. The recipients of the Partners for Engagement and Knowledge Exchange (PEKEs) grants, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's (CIHR) Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples initiative, will “create an evidence base that supports the design and implementation of health interventions” in 4 key areas: suicide prevention, obesity and diabetes, tuberculosis, and oral health. The research will also focus on the use of traditional knowledge and respecting the culture of Aboriginal communities when implementing health interventions. The 3 successful recipients are the National Association of Friendship Centres, the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, and the Native Women's Association of Canada. Digital Journal

DreamCatcher Mentoring donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

The DreamCatcher Mentoring (DCM) program has been donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) by co-founder and Executive Director Josh Silvertown. DCM is a non-profit online mentoring program that partners high school students in Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon with Canadian mentors working in the students’ dream jobs. It is reportedly the first program of its kind, and has been shown to improve student attendance and graduation rates. “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada shares the values of DreamCatcher Mentoring and the common mandate of providing quality mentors to children and youth,” says Bruce MacDonald, President BBBSC. “We are delighted with this very generous gift which not only expands our services in Canada’s North, but is also an effective e-mentoring platform. We will use our national network to continue DCM’s work, grow the program and serve more youth.” DCM is endorsed by the Yukon Department of Education, The Government of the Northwest Territories and the Iqaluit District Education Authority and has received federal funding from several sources. BBBSC plans to keep the program in its current form, but will explore avenues to expand the program and explore further uses of the technology. DCM News Release | Toronto Star

Trades training program created for Métis in AB

There is a new introduction to trades program available for Métis peoples in northwestern Alberta, offered through the Rupertsland Institute’s Métis Training to Employment Services. The Trades Work Program is a free 10-week program that introduces learners to employment in the trades, including classes in safety, shop training, trades math and science review, occupational fitness, and job search assistance. The first week is completed in the students’ home communities, followed by 7 weeks on campus at Grande Prairie Regional College’s Fairview Campus. Students return home for 2 weeks of work experience to complete the program, after which they are eligible to apply to write an apprenticeship entrance exam. The program also aims to target employers in order to create more work-study and apprenticeship placements in the area. “It’s a win for the community, it’s a win for the employers, [and] it’s a win for the clients. We are having these individuals who come train become self-sufficient, out in the workforce and building toward a career they have chosen to be in,” said Michele McCullough, Manager for Métis Training to Employment Services. Daily Herald Tribune

Pilot program offers Aboriginal youth hands-on healthcare experiences

A new pilot program led by Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry will bring first- and second-year medical students to Aboriginal communities with the goal of encouraging Aboriginal youth to pursue careers in medical fields. The MedLINCS Aboriginal Pilot Project provides Aboriginal high school students with hands-on learning experiences such as reading x-rays, practicing sutures, and splitting and casting. Some communities will stage mock disasters with the participation of local emergency response personnel. The pilot project will initially be held in rural communities in the Owen Sound area in collaboration with community partners. “This pilot project is an opportunity to get Aboriginal youth, who are often in underserviced communities, excited about healthcare careers,” said George Kim, Assistant Dean of Rural & Regional Community Engagement at Schulich. “It also gives our medical students exposure to the unique health care needs in Aboriginal communities.” WesternU News Release

Vancouver school district signs agreement to improve education outcomes for Aboriginal students

The West Vancouver School District has signed a 5-year Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement with the Squamish Nation and the BC Ministry of Education. The agreement marks a formal partnership designed to improve academic and social opportunities for the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in the area. The agreement includes 4 guiding principles: improving cultural awareness; developing relationships; collaborating with all educational partners; and inspiring learners. The agreement will also aid in the promotion of cultural awareness in schools for all students and staff, as part of its 3 main goals: “improving the sense of belonging and presence of students of aboriginal ancestry; improving the academic achievement of aboriginal students; and increasing the use of ‘accurate, authentic and relevant’ First Peoples' resources.” North Shore News

SK school divisions partner to share resources

New partnerships have been established between school divisions in Saskatchewan under the Invitational Shared Services Initiative (ISSI) program, designed to provide funding for schools that pool resources. The Treaty Six Education Council has partnered with the Light of Christ School Division and Living Sky School Division, which will each receive $150,000 for personnel and programming, including graduation “coaches,” allowing all students and teachers on- and off-reserve access to the same supports and services available at provincial schools. “These ISSI partnerships align with the Education Sector Strategic Plan and are designed to put the student first,” said Minister of Education Russ Marchuk. “Through partnerships such as these, we come another step closer to meeting the needs of all Saskatchewan students regardless of where in the province they reside.” The Treaty Six Education Council was formed earlier this year to streamline and consolidate second-level service delivery among 9 SK First Nations. Battlefords News-Optimist | SK News Release 

Glooscap First Nation joins Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey

Nova Scotia’s Glooscap First Nation has joined the Mi’kmaq Education Agreement, allowing the First Nation’s students to access programs and services delivered by Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey (MK), the education authority. Glooscap is the 12th First Nation to join the agreement. "Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey is committed to improving the quality of education for the Mi'kmaw students. This agreement affirms MK and Glooscap First Nation's working relationship and mutual dedication to ensuring the students of Glooscap receive the best possible educational experience, and that they are comprehensively prepared to become confident, skilled, and educated individuals who will create a strong future for their community,” said Eleanor Bernard, MK’s Executive Director. Canada News Release

Aboriginal youth need education and hope

A recent piece in Maclean’s highlights the many barriers to success that Canada’s Aboriginal youth currently face, pointing to education as the most likely way to turn the situation around. Citing cycles of poverty and violence in many Aboriginal communities, the author notes that “Aboriginal children continue to face a fate that should horrify most Canadians.” Opinions on how to address these issues are divided, as the recent debates surrounding the failed federal First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act demonstrate. And, although there are many on both sides that are vocally engaging in such debates, it is the ones in the middle, the “thinking, liberal-minded people” who may be tuning out of these discussions, whom some community leaders feel are needed to keep the conversations active. According to Mike McKenzie, a First Nations youth and member of the Skeetchestn Indian Band, Aboriginal youth need to know they are not alone, and that there are others fighting the same battles. Maclean’s

Questions remain about fate of Aboriginal midwifery program

Students are questioning the fate of a unique Manitoba midwifery program. University College of the North’s midwifery program was created with a mandate to train Aboriginal midwives using a blended curriculum that included Aboriginal and western teachings. However, the decision to halt the UCN program and replace it with a collaborative degree offered with the University of Manitoba has many concerned about the fate of the program’s Aboriginal focus. Melissa Brown, a recent graduate of the program, told the CBC that during her time on the Winnipeg campus she saw no signs of an Aboriginal curriculum. In response to a question about whether the new program could be described as an Aboriginal midwifery school, Manitoba Minister of Education and Advanced Learning James Allum said, “well, the program will serve Aboriginal Manitobans, it will serve northern Manitobans, in fact all of Manitoba. Distinguishing it on that basis forgets that the objective is to make sure there are more midwives and more Aboriginal midwives.” CBC

Educational summer camps in full swing

A number of summer camps for Aboriginal youth, offered by PSE institutions and other organizations, are up and running, with the goals of improving education outcomes, increasing student interest in PSE, and providing life and survival skills. Western University's Indigenous Youth Mini-University Summer Program is in its 8th year, and aims to interest Aboriginal youth in PSE through experiential learning led by Indigenous student-leaders, faculty, and staff. First Nations University’s Health and Science Camp uses traditional Indigenous toys and games to teach kids math and culture. Saskatoon’s Next Up leadership camp helps Indigenous youth develop a better sense of their own strengths, enhancing leadership and public speaking skills. The Greater Essex County District School Board’s Summer Learning Program has a designated portion of the program devoted to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students in grades K–8 (Camp Migizi). Students work on reading, writing, and oral storytelling with cultural components in order to improve literacy. Simon Fraser University has launched an inaugural math/English camp for Aboriginal students in grades 8-11, designed to improve students’ math performance and introduce them to the PSE experience. The Canadian Forces holds a Junior Canadian Rangers camp every summer for Aboriginal youth from Ontario’s northern communities, designed to teach youth survival and life-saving skills. WesternU News Release | Leader-Post | StarPhoenix | Windsor Star |SFU News Release | CBC