Indigenous Top Ten

August 27, 2014

Neskantaga First Nation opens new training centre

Ontario’s Neskantaga First Nation recently celebrated the grand opening of a new state-of-the-art mobile training facility that will enable community members to access secondary and PSE programming without leaving the community. The facility, funded by the Ontario government, is a partnership between the Aecon construction company and the Matawa First Nations' Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS), with involvement by ATCO Structures & Logistics, Bell Canada, Cisco Canada, Galaxy Satellite, Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario, and Confederation College. "The partnerships formed to build this facility, along with all of the hard work, have culminated in a facility that will have a positive impact on the people of Neskantaga for many years to come," said Chief Peter Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation during the opening ceremonies. "This is an integral step in the right direction—providing access to higher learning directly in our community so that our youth have the opportunity to succeed." The multi-purpose facility is designed to be constructed off-site and flown into remote communities where it can be assembled. CBC | Aecon News Release

NVIT receives funding to strengthen student transitions to the workplace

The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology has received $250,000 from the BC government to help students successfully transition from school to the workforce. The funding, part of BC’s $3.9-M commitment to fund Aboriginal Service Plans at the province’s PSE institutions, will go towards a new course at NVIT (Strategies for Success 101), establishing career search and work placement assistance through the student centre, and increasing access to Elders, mentors, tutors, and counsellors. “NVIT’s Aboriginal Service Plan focuses on a holistic approach to transition—one that supports learner achievement of individual education and career pursuits by engaging students and community members by highlighting and supporting academia, training, and career opportunities and pathways at NVIT and beyond,” said Kylie Thomas, Director of Students for NVIT. Funding Announcement

Mohawk College reveals new Wampum Wall

As students head back to school this year, those attending Mohawk College may notice a new feature outside the Aboriginal Education and Student Services office: a 50-foot illuminated Wampum Wall. The photographic feature was designed to look like a traditional wampum belt, with alternating purple and white rows. The purple rows are made up of hundreds of photos of members of the local Haudenosaunee community, assembled by a local Elder. Some of the photos are of historical figures and some are photos of current community members, many of whom played a significant role in history or in community revitalization. The basis for the wall, the Two Row Wampum, represents a peace agreement between the Dutch and the Iroquois. Coordinator of Aboriginal Education and Student Services Amy Kelaidis spoke of the significance of the Two Row Wampum and its emphasis on partnership, “something that is important to us here at Mohawk College.” The eye-catching wall is also designed to help the college’s Indigenous students feel pride in their cultures as well as to signify reconciliation. MoCast Video (See 2:32)

Carleton continues efforts to indigenize the academy

Carleton University is highlighting its efforts to indigenize the university, including the establishment of the Aboriginal Education Council; the Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Language and Education (CIRCLE); and the Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education (CACE). “The seeds have been planted … to make Carleton a more Aboriginal-friendly and focused campus,” said CIRCLE Co-Director Anna Hoefnagels. CIRCLE facilitates research on cultural expression indigenous to Canada, such as linguistics, music, and dancing. CIRCLE members have also participated in several digital projects that involved using online games to educate people about treaties and interactions between Indigenous peoples and early explorers. Carleton is this week hosting a 2-day pilot workshop in preparation of next year’s Summer Institute on Aboriginal Research Ethics, which will educate researchers from around the world on how to implement ethical practices when working with Aboriginal communities or on traditional lands. Carleton News (1) | Carleton News (2)

First Nations explore benefits of electronic mapping at workshop

Members of First Nations from across British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada will be gathering this week at the University of Victoria to learn about electronic mapping and how it can be used to preserve traditional knowledge. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), UVic, Google Earth Outreach, and the BC-based Firelight Group are hosting the Indigenous mapping workshop which will bring resources, training, and best practices to Indigenous community members who wish to use e-mapping to record traditional territories, land and water use, interactions with wildlife and other communities, and food sources. The mapping projects often have the added benefit of connecting youth with Elders, as youth can use cell phones or computers to enter the information given by an Elder. “The indigenous mapping movement is empowering because it is accessible, accurate and defensible,” said UVic anthropologist Brian Thom. UBCIC Grand Chief Philip Stewart, agrees, noting, “Indigenous land use and occupancy mapping allows Indigenous Peoples to catalogue, safeguard and convey the collective knowledge of our communities." UVic News Release | Victoria Times Colonist | CTV News | Workshop Website

hitchBOT meets with First Nations on trip across Canada

A travelling, talking robot named hitchBOT recently made its way across Canada—from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia—by depending on the kindness of strangers. Aside from meeting many new people and attending a wedding in BC, hitchBOT was an honoured guest at a powwow in Wikwemikong First Nation in Ontario, where it received the honourary Anishinaabe name Biiaabkookwe (Iron Woman). Upon arriving in Victoria, hitchBOT was met by Indigenous producer Steve Sxwithul'txw, who offered to give the robot a traditional Coast Salish welcome, while using the opportunity to show First Nations communities that technology is “nothing to fear.” “I think [I wanted] the chance bring this into our First Nations communities to really reflect on how and where technology is and where it’s going, and [to encourage people] not to be afraid of it,” said Sxwithul'txw. hitchBOT’s co-creator David Smith, a professor at McMaster University, noted the interest that many First Nations expressed in the robot as a “wonderful focal point to have discussions [about technology] and also to stimulate the younger generation to open up these areas of inquiry for themselves.” National Post | Toronto Star | Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Blog | McMaster News

Nunavik schools launch new land-based cultural program

Nunavik’s Kativik School Board (KSB) is launching a new pilot project at 4 of its schools this year that will see cultural components being taught to students during week-long land-based excursions. The 4 communities taking part are Kangiqsujuaq, Quaqtaq, Akulivik, and Umiujaq; the cultural excursions will include instruction on traditional skills, socialization, and survival skills. KSB’s Executive Director Annie Popert noted the change in students when they are taken onto the land for learning, including increased competence and understanding. “We think that getting regular breaks from the classroom will really re-energize these students and teachers,” she said. KSB will evaluate the program this year and will consider expanding it to other schools in the region for the 2015-16 school year. Nunatsiaq Online

New video game allows players to explore traditional Iñupiat culture

E-Line Media and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) from Anchorage, Alaska have collaborated on a new video game that draws players into a traditional Iñupiat world. Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa) is a game about a young girl who must save her community from an endless blizzard. The game provides a way of bridging generations through storytelling, by involving traditional wisdom, values, and lessons in a digital game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages around the world. Elders and youth from the community were consulted in the early stages of the game’s development to ensure that the game remained culturally accurate while elements of modern game-play were incorporated. One of the game’s developers spoke of the learning process that went into the game’s creation: “for us it was about that we were students, first and foremost, of the culture. That we were there to learn and listen, and try to synthesize that intelligence into something that makes sense and resonated with the community.” Never Alone will be released this fall. Global Voices | Financial Post | All Tech Considered

Adam Beach brings film institute for at-risk Aboriginal youth to Winnipeg

Canadian Indigenous actor Adam Beach will establish a film school for Aboriginal youth in Winnipeg, reports CBC. Beach’s non-profit film institute will train at-risk Aboriginal youth for a variety of roles in the film industry, including acting, filmmaking, casting, and wardrobe. "My career and my passion started in Winnipeg, and what I'm doing is taking all of my knowledge and experience and bringing it back. So I started the Adam Beach Film Institute to teach and train and create more jobs in Manitoba," said Beach. In addition to the institute’s move to Manitoba, Beach has launched a “pop-up movie theatre” initiative that brings theatre-quality movies to remote First Nations and communities that do not have theatres. The initiative is designed not only to entertain, but also to inspire youth in the communities visited by the initiative and to offer a way for youth to connect with families and Elders doing something everyone can enjoy. CBC (Film Institute) | CBC (Pop-up)

BCIT introduces tuition waiver program for youth in care

The British Columbia Institute of Technology has joined the growing number of institutions that offer tuition waivers for youth that have been in foster care. BCIT’s program will target the skilled trades, covering tuition, student and medical fees, and lab costs for the entirety of a certificate or diploma program. BCIT President Kathy Kinloch stated, “by providing access to hands-on post-secondary opportunities, we are enabling more career pathways and brighter futures for young people across the province.” The tuition waiver program is in response to a challenge by BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, to increase access for disadvantaged youth. BCIT News