Indigenous Top Ten

July 30, 2014

Canada to gather data on Aboriginal participation in the workforce

Canada will provide $675,000 in funding to the Aboriginal Human Resource Council to gather data on Aboriginal participation in the workforce. The funding will support data collection on over 125 projects across the country. It is hoped that the initiative will help identify demand for workers near more than 500 Aboriginal communities and inform decisions on skill development and training for Aboriginal people. Many of the projects being studied are in mining, construction, and oil and gas; the majority of growth in Aboriginal employment in the last several years has occurred in these areas. “Given the proximity of many Aboriginal communities to large economic projects, there is a tremendous opportunity to address some of Canada’s skill shortages, while enabling Aboriginal people to take advantage of local economic opportunities,” said Bernard Valcourt, Canada’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Canada News Release

Summer literacy camps for Aboriginal children receive support from TD and Corus

Frontier College's Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps are getting a boost in support this year from TD Bank Group and the Corus Entertainment Group. Long-time supporter TD has committed an additional $100,000 to Frontier in order to help facilitate the nutrition portion of the summer camp program. Corus is donating books and activities through its Kids Can Press publishing division and the Corus Feeds Kids initiative. As well, Corus will be running TV and radio ads to raise awareness and support for the summer camps. The focus of this year’s summer camps is to “nourish the bodies and minds of young children” in Aboriginal communities across Canada. "Frontier College is proud of the success of the Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps, which ensures that children continue to learn throughout the summer. We are grateful for the commitment from TD Bank Group and Corus Entertainment in sharing a vision for a bright and healthy future in these communities," said Frontier College President Sherry Campbell. Corus News Release

Berens River students create viral version of “Cup Song”

Students from the Berens River First Nation in Manitoba have created a viral music video that has racked up more than 50,000 hits to date. The 300 students perform a cover of the popular “Cup Song,” filmed against the backdrop of the startling contradictions of scenery on an isolated reserve, including rusted vehicles and stunning lakefront views. The performance was organized by music teacher Ken Davidson, who wanted to give students the opportunity to show off the beauty of their surroundings to a wider audience. The song, which repeats the line “you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone,” also has a deeper meaning for many of the community’s youth, as the school only goes to grade 9 and students must travel south to continue their education. The video ends with the entire school taking part in the performance. Winnipeg Free Press | Global News | YouTube Video

CMEC commits to further focus on Aboriginal education

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) met for their annual meeting earlier this month, with skills, Aboriginal education, improved student performance, and partnership the focus of the meeting. In addition to developing efforts dedicated to improving student performance and better national coordination of skills training, the ministers agreed to pan-Canadian initiatives involving Aboriginal education, directed by 4 key areas: support for Aboriginal students interested in pursuing teaching as a career; development of learning resources on Canadian history and the legacy of Indian Residential Schools that could be used by teacher training programs; sharing of promising practices in Aboriginal education; and ongoing promotion of learning about Indian Residential Schools in K-12 education systems. “Building teaching capacity among Aboriginal peoples is essential if we are to move forward to close the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students,” said the Honourable Jackson Lafferty, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment for Northwest Territories and CMEC Lead Minister on Aboriginal education. CMEC News Release

Aboriginal women receive specialized training

The Aboriginal Women in Mining (AWIM) program, offered by the Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, is offering Aboriginal women in northeastern ON the opportunity to receive training and gain employment in the mining and resource sector. AWIM targets First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women in the area, primarily those who have experienced serious life challenges, and offers them training in life skills, resume writing, and interview skills in addition to more specialized intro-to-trades skills. Employers that take on program participants can get a wage subsidy of up to 50%, an initiative designed to encourage businesses to hire more Aboriginal women. “The group’s purpose is to help as many women as we can,” said AWIM job coach Kelly Lamontagne. “If you’re making strong women who can make strong decisions and have a good career and have good self-esteem, you’re then making stronger children, stronger families, [and] better men.” Northern Ontario Business 

Parkland receives funding for mine-readiness, electrician programs

Parkland College has received funding from the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) to develop 2 projects aimed to increase Aboriginal participation in the mining and resource sector and to increase the number of qualified electricians in the college’s region. The first project funded by IMII is a partnership between Parkland and Carlton Trail College that will see the 2 institutions develop an Intro to Mining course to train Aboriginal people in the region for work in potash mines and processing facilities. The second project will allow Parkland to deliver SIAST’s Electrician Applied Certificate Enhanced program at its Esterhazy campus, to increase the number of entry-level electricians in the area. IMII is providing more than $822,000 in funding for the 2 projects. “We serve the community and deliver in-demand programs to produce the skilled graduates that business and industry need,” said Parkland College President Fay Myers. “We are eager to begin these partnerships so we can contribute to the growth and prosperity of the Parkland Region.” Parkland News Release

SIIT program provides education and employment

A program at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) is highlighting its success training Aboriginal people as heavy equipment operators in Saskatoon. The program’s graduation rate is approximately 85–90%, and graduates are guaranteed an entry-level position with the City of Saskatoon. Students learn how to operate heavy machinery and also receive their 1A driver’s licence, which allows drivers to operate school buses or transport trucks. "A lot of our Aboriginal people don't have the skills needed to go out and get jobs, and it's tough for people to get entry-level jobs," said Terry Young, Coordinator of Industrial Initiatives at SIIT. "Everybody wants experience." Stakeholders note the program has the dual benefits of allowing Aboriginal people to break into the job market, as well as filling the need for skilled workers in the area. CBC

Adult education centre providing opportunities for QC’s Aboriginal population

Quebec’s oldest and largest Aboriginal adult education and vocational school is being celebrated as a success story and model for similar institutions in QC. The 20-year-old Centre de développement de la formation et de la main-d’oeuvre (CDFM), located on the Wendake reserve, provides education for First Nations students aged 16-55. CDFM’s most popular program, accounting for 75% of enrolment, is the high school diploma program, but students can also study trades in partnership with trade schools across QC. CDFM classes are small, with approximately 15 “very receptive and highly motivated” students in each, noted one instructor. The programs CDFM offers in partnership with various trades schools are “very diversified,” and are aimed to meet the needs of QC’s First Nations communities, said CDFM’s Director Julie Vincent. CDFM works with a variety of funding partners at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. Montreal Gazette

Summer camps offer educational opportunities for Aboriginal youth

A fresh crop of summer camps targeted to Aboriginal youth are taking place across Canada, aiming to spark interest in education, whether trades, medicine, or environmental studies. Red River College puts on several camps for Manitoba’s Aboriginal youth, including a skilled trades camp and the Hands-on Activities Week for Kids (HAWK) camp, that combine trades-related activities with cultural sessions. The University of Manitoba hosts the New Venture Adventure Camp, an entrepreneurship camp for Aboriginal teens, and the Biomedical Youth Camp, a free day-camp designed to interest teens in medical/health careers. Trent University’s Trent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and Science Youth Program (TRACKS) offers Aboriginal youth unique perspectives on the environment by combining Western and Indigenous knowledge systems. “TRACKS’ strengths are in the people that it pulls together and the experiences that we have and share together. Kids can be expected to have new experiences, both indoors and out and challenge their ways of thinking about the world around them,” said one TRACKS instructor. RRC News Release | Winnipeg Free Press | uManitoba News (entrepreneurship) | uManitoba News (biomedical) | CBC |TrentU News

US institutions reach out to Indigenous youth

Increasing numbers of US PSE institutions are developing programs meant to support and encourage Indigenous students interested in pursuing higher education. Mini-college boot camps have been implemented by dozens of institutions, introducing youth to college/university surroundings and experiences while integrating traditional cultures and practices to “challenge the idea that tribal customs and higher education don't mix,” said Joshua Gonzalez, the Director of Native American Student Programs at the University of California, Riverside. Students sleep in dorms, eat in cafeterias, and attend classroom lectures, as well as participating in prayer circles and beading workshops. "We encourage having your culture and traditions as well as academics," said Gonzalez. Many of these programs allow participants to access resources for assistance with applications and funding. Participants also make connections with peers and mentors who can provide support during the students’ education. "I learned that it's all about balance," said one program participant. "This program has truly helped me." Modesto Bee