Indigenous Top Ten

September 24, 2014

McGill’s new Indigenous studies program proving popular with students

McGill University’s new Minor Concentration in Indigenous Studies is quickly proving to be an in-demand program. Fall semester courses have filled up fast, one in fewer than 24 hours. The new concentration, within the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC), bundles existing courses with new ones that address Indigenous histories, worldviews, and historical relationships with non-Indigenous people in Canada. The goal of the program is not only to orient students to various histories and issues, but to encourage students to consider new and different worldviews, said Allan Downey, an academic associate in Indigenous Studies at McGill. “Indigenous studies has quickly become one of the fastest growing fields of study in Canadian universities. There seems to be a momentum in Canada to re-evaluate and improve the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and I think the discipline’s growth is a by-product of that,” said Downey. MISC Director Will Straw is optimistic the program will expand in future years, as Indigenous issues are so important for the study of Canada. McGill News

3 NB First Nations launch JUMP math program in schools

The Three Nations Education Group Initiative (TNEGI) in New Brunswick—a regional education management organization comprised of the Tobique, Elsipogtog, and Burnt Church First Nations—is piloting a new math program in member schools in the hopes of closing the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. The JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) math program focuses on “guided discovery,” and emphasizes student interaction and participation in lessons. The philosophy behind the program is that if children are more engaged in the material, they will excel, explained Larry Flanagan, Principal at Esgenoôpetitj School. Math instructors are reporting early success, as students seem more involved and less likely to experience “math anxiety.” The program has reportedly seen success at other First Nations schools in Canada, and is hoped to have similar success during the 2-year pilot project. CBC

Yukon College partners with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation on teaching and working farm

Yukon College has signed an MOU with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation to establish a teaching and working farm on the First Nation’s traditional territory. In addition to providing a healthy and healing land-based learning environment for members of the First Nation, the farm is expected to provide opportunity for the research and development of innovative approaches to northern agriculture and sustainability practices. Yukon College is also exploring work-experience opportunities for students. “Yukon College welcomes this opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and enhance their capacity to provide learning and training possibilities for their citizens,” said college President Karen Barnes. The partners will establish a steering committee to develop long-term priorities and planning, but hope to be planting initial crops next year. Yukon College News

MB launches treaty education program in provincial schools

The Manitoba government and the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba announced yesterday that the Treaty Education Initiative (TEI) will be introduced to all provincial schools at all grade levels. The TEI was initially introduced in 2010 as a pilot project for Grades 5–6, with additional grades added in subsequent years. The TEI educates both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students about the Treaties that “form the basis of Manitoba’s history.” Officials hope the treaty education will improve relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in the province, reducing “stereotypical thinking.” Teachers that participated in the pilot reported finding it easy to include treaty discussion in a variety of courses, including math, art, and history. “In turn, this opened doors to discussions that built upon the Treaties such as residential schools, traditions, and customs and gave students greater context in understanding [current] issues,” said Treaty Relations Commissioner James Wilson. CBC

FNUniv launches community-based research project with, by, and for Indigenous women

The First Nations University of Canada has officially launched a 3-year participatory, community-based research project designed with, by, and for Indigenous women affected by HIV and AIDS. Digging Deep: Examining the Root Causes of HIV and AIDS among Aboriginal Women will attempt to fill gaps in existing research and will “focus on Aboriginal women with the premise of helping them to develop evidence-based, community and asset-based solutions that are culturally safe.” Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the project will involve interdisciplinary researchers, health practitioners, community members, partner organizations, and Elders from across Saskatchewan, Canada, and the world. “We will be exploring a model of culturally safe care and ensuring that there is a legacy from this research for both community members and academics through what we commonly refer to as the two-eyed seeing model,” said co-Principal Investigator Carrie Bourassa. FNUniv News Release

ON Friendship Centres partner with Jane Goodall Institute on youth-led water sustainability project

The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) has partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada (JGI) to bring the Roots and Shoots program to Aboriginal youth in Ontario. Roots and Shoots is a youth-led community action and learning program that gets youth involved with finding solutions to challenges they face in their communities. Through the new partnership, 9 Friendship Centres in ON will work directly with the OFIFC Aboriginal Youth Council to identify and implement projects involving water sustainability. The youth participants will help create an awareness campaign around water protection and sustainability and will take part in a workshop on the sacredness of water and best methods of protecting water sources in the community. The campaigns and workshop will incorporate Indigenous knowledge and will involve community Elders. “Today’s Aboriginal youth are the first generation who are eager and able to incorporate traditional knowledge with modern science to bring a new and wholistic perspective on the need to protect our natural environments,” said OFIFC President Sheila McMahon. OFIFC News Release

CBU enables in-community learning with new BEd program

Cape Breton University has launched its BEd program in the Indian Brook First Nation, allowing learners to access the program without leaving their home community. The BEd program is offered through a collaboration between Unama’ki College and the Department of Education at CBU, and will incorporate flexible scheduling, with classes offered in evenings and on weekends to accommodate working professionals. Online learning platforms such as Moodle will be used to deliver programming, with 80% of the courses in the first term to be taught by full-time education faculty. “Unama’ki College is very proud to a part of this collaborative program,” says Stephen Augustine, Dean of Unama’ki College and Aboriginal Learning. “By investing in programs of this kind we are directly investing in the future of First Nation communities and fortifying our support and faith in education.” CBU News

Online high school allows students from northern ON to remain at home

The Keewaytinook Internet High School is giving Indigenous youth in northern Ontario an alternative to leaving their communities for school by making high school courses available in home communities via technology. There are currently 13 communities that offer the high school program, with a number of other First Nations offering individual credit courses. Each community offering the program has a dedicated space for students to access course materials, with a qualified Ontario teacher at each location to provide support and assistance. Principal Darrin Potter notes that participation in the internet school can help students develop valuable skills such as self-guided learning and independence. “When a student comes into an online program they are developing a lot of skills for independent studies and independent work that maybe some other traditional schools are not developing as much,” said Potter. Students also benefit from the support of families and communities while enrolled, something that is often lacking when students must travel to attend high school. There are approximately 300 students currently enrolled in Keewaytinook Internet High School. CBC

NU introduces new standardized curriculum

Nunavut has introduced a new standardized curriculum and assessment tools, focusing on literacy, math, and science instruction. Much of the new curriculum has been adopted from neighbouring provinces and territories, including the NWT-Alberta math curriculum from kindergarten to Grade 6; the NWT-Alberta science curriculum for Grades 7, 8, and 9; and the NWT’s kindergarten to Grade 9 English language arts curriculum. The majority of curriculum changes this school year will be at the K–Grade 4 level, with the changes in higher grades rolling out in the next few years. Standardized instruction and assessment tools will be used to evaluate program and student success, as well as best practices. The source material for the new curriculum is in English, but instruction will continue in all of NU’s official languages. “It is important that we establish best practices in our education system,” said Education Minister Paul Quassa. “Moving forward together using updated, standardized curriculum and resources will support consistent and relevant learning experiences for all Nunavut students.” Nunatsiaq Online

uSask’s Indigenous Land Management Institute receives $500,000 from TD

TD Bank of Canada has committed $500,000 to the Indigenous Land Management Institute (ILMI) at the University of Saskatchewan. The funds will be used for education, scholarships, and research in support of the ILMI’s core mission to “work with Indigenous peoples to realize a more prosperous future through optimal land and resource management.” Half of the donation will be used for internships that allow students to work and research in SK. The ILMI is “an international leader in the area of Indigenous economic development and land and resource management and we hope this gift will help the institute continue its ground breaking research,” said Clint Davis, TD’s VP of Aboriginal Banking. “We also know some students have limited financial resources and providing bursaries is critical for attracting and retaining bright minds so they can focus on the task at hand.” uSask News