Indigenous Top Ten

October 8, 2014

Culture-based learning centre launched in Nanaimo

A new urban Aboriginal public school has opened in Nanaimo, BC, reportedly the first of its kind for the area. The Nanaimo Learning Centre is a partnership between the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, Vancouver Island West School District, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island, and Mid Island Métis Nation. The Centre is located in the Nanaimo Boys and Girls Club and offers space for children in K-grade 3 to learn in a culture-based, outdoors-focused environment. Students and families will be further supported by a lunch program, before- and after-school care, visits from Elders, and other cultural activities. The school is open to all children, but is expected to be made up of approximately 70% Indigenous students. “We are going to walk in both worlds, where we make sure we have the kids rooted in their tradition, but also making sure they’re ready for the challenges they are going to face while they are going through our school system,” said Lawrence Tarasoff, Superintendent of Vancouver Island West School District. Nanaimo Daily News | Nanaimo Bulletin

uOttawa honours Algonquin Elder William Commanda

The University of Ottawa has renamed its Faculty of Arts building in honour of William Ojigkwanong Commanda, Elder, spiritual leader, and former Chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. Commanda is internationally known for his efforts to share Indigenous knowledge and promote peace and respect for the environment. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008, received an honorary doctorate from uOttawa in 2005, and in 2006 he became the first Aboriginal person to be given the key to the City of Ottawa. Commanda passed in 2011 at the age of 97. “By naming the building that houses the Institute of Canadian and Aboriginal Studies in honour of William Commanda, the University of Ottawa reaffirms its commitment to disseminating the Aboriginal knowledge, history and cultures on which our country is founded,” said uOttawa President Allan Rock. The event included Algonquin prayers and honour songs and was attended by members of Commanda’s family, First Nations Elders and representatives, and members of the uOttawa community. uOttawa News | APTN News

uToronto receives donation in support of Indigenous education

The University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) has received $5 M from an anonymous donor to strengthen Indigenous education research. According to uToronto, the gift is the largest donation ever made to a Canadian education faculty specifically for Indigenous education research. The funds will be used to establish a fellowship and to launch a comprehensive 5-year initiative designed to identify the educational needs and aspirations of Indigenous peoples. The OISE Indigenous Education Initiative will focus on literacy during the first year, and will also conduct research in related areas, including Indigenous languages and revitalization, education governance, and literacy infrastructure. The focus of the initiative will be on Indigenous education in Canada, but it is expected that the research will have far-reaching relevance to Indigenous peoples and educators around the world. “The OISE Indigenous Education Initiative fully recognizes and embraces the principles advanced by Indigenous peoples and educators,” stated OISE Dean Julia O’Sullivan. “The initiative will support important dialogue on the advancement and achievement of those very principles.” uToronto News

ON health centre adds classroom for children and expectant mothers

The Meno Ya Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout has expanded a pilot project designed to provide classes for expectant mothers and their children who must travel there to receive medical care towards the end of their pregnancies. The project, funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Education, is delivered by the Keewatin Patricia District School Board. The classroom is located within the health centre and provides an elementary teacher for children in grades K–8 and a continuing education teacher for young mothers working on high school credits. A pilot version of the program ran last year and was so successful that it is being expanded to include Tikanagan Child and Family Services and women and children from the local women’s shelter. School board Superintendent Caryl Hron said that the mothers appreciate knowing their children are nearby and continuing their education, and that the children are “happy to be there, and happy not to be missing out on being with other children and being in school.” CBC

Indigenous learning supported at Camosun and UOIT

BC’s Camosun College has rebranded its former Aboriginal Education and Community Connections program and launched a new Indigenous education model under the name Eyēʔ Sqȃ'lewen – The Centre for Indigenous Education & Community Connections (IECC), meaning “good heart, good mind, good feelings.” The new education model is based on the Camas flower, important to local Indigenous peoples. 6 petals represent the 6 purposes of the new Centre: services to students, community connections, courses and programs, special projects, Indigenization, and research. Students are at the centre of the petals and the roots signify Indigenous knowledge and caring; the flower stem provides the “relationships that hold it all together.” The new model will allow educators and Centre staff to work more closely with other areas of the college in support of students. Similarly, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology has opened the UOIT-Baagwating Indigenous Student Centre. The Centre provides space for cultural programming, counselling, traditional ceremonies, and cultural advising for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty. Camosun News Release | IECC website |Saanich News | UOIT News | Oshawa Express

SK science outreach program receives international awards

An innovative science outreach program in Saskatchewan has been recognized with 2 international awards. The PotashCorp Kamskénow program—a collaboration between the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Saskatoon Public Schools, and title sponsor PotashCorp—provides hands-on science programs to Grades 4–12 classes in Saskatoon with high proportions of Aboriginal students. The program runs for 13 weeks, with students participating in science labs on campus in the final week; graduate and undergraduate students from uSask’s science programs facilitate the science activities. The program was awarded 2 Global Best Awards from the International Business Education Partnership Network: the 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Award for the North America region; and best overall in the STEM category for 2014. “We are thrilled with this recognition and validation,” said Lana Elias, Director of Science Outreach Programs for uSask’s Division of Science. “It’s an honour to share our enthusiasm for learning and to empower Aboriginal students to succeed in the fields of science and mathematics.” uSask News

National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development established at UVic

The University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law and the Peter B Gustavson School of Business have announced a new consortium intended to support Indigenous economic development across Canada. The National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development (NCIED) will focus on 7 key areas: entrepreneurship; leadership and management development; effective regulation for economic prosperity; securing resources, stewardship, and sustainability; economic development strategies; structures for economic activity; and working with and creating business. Gustavson Dean Saul Klein said, “Canada’s future is tied to the well-being of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous communities and their participation in the economy. Unlocking the potential for economic development in light of this requires careful consideration and elimination of the structural and behavioural impediments to capital investment and economic growth.” Miles G Richardson (Haida) will sit as NCIED’s interim Director to oversee its launch and development. UVic News Release

Institutions announce Indigenous-focused programs

Lambton College in Ontario is launching a new Aboriginal Social Justice certificate program, starting in 2015. The new program is designed for those that work in Aboriginal communities, providing an introduction to a number of subjects, including policing services in First Nation and Inuit communities and Aboriginal culture and history in the context of the broader public safety sector. The program was developed with input from Aboriginal public safety and law specialists. Meanwhile, Manitoba’s Red River College and the University of Winnipeg have partnered on an innovative program designed to allow RRC employees to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Indigenous Studies at uWinnipeg. The program will use a part-time, flexible-delivery model, accommodating the work schedule of current employees. The first cohort of 25 began the new program this fall, and are expected to complete the program in 6 years. Lambton News | RRC News

NWT Aboriginal language teachers receive ministry awards

Deninu School in Fort Resolution, NWT has received the NWT Ministerial Literacy Award in the youth category for its efforts to revitalize the Dëne Suliné, or Chipewyan, language. Use of Dëne Suliné at the school has increased 23%, with teachers encouraging students to integrate the language into their everyday lives. “It’s all about the students. It’s their identity; it’s who they are as Dene people … Our language is dying so these are the students that are bringing it out of the classroom, into the hallways, onto the playground, into the communities and at home,” said teacher Angie Fabien. Teachers at Deninu use a mix of traditional and modern technologies to teach the language, including smartboards and school signage. The Ministerial Literacy Awards are given to schools, organizations and individuals that go above and beyond in their commitment to improving literacy in the territory. The Tuktoyaktuk Community Learning Centre also received an award for its efforts to include the Inuvialuktun language in teaching methods. Northern Journal

SK high school focused on improving Aboriginal graduation rates

John Paul II Collegiate in North Battleford, Saskatchewan is celebrating its highest-ever on-time graduation rates last spring, with the rising graduation rate of the school’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students contributing to the overall success. In addition, a new program launched this year is expected to further increase the success rates of students. JPII has established a graduation coach program, thanks to funding from the SK government’s Invitational Shared Services Initiative (ISSI) program. The graduation coach program is modelled on a successful program in place in Edmonton's Catholic schools, where graduation rates have increased by almost 50% in 5 years. The graduation coach program will be housed in a newly dedicated space, the Braided Journeys Room, where the graduation coach will act as a mentor, using a holistic approach to address social, emotional, and spiritual needs as well as academic achievement. "We all know that it's mentors that make the difference … One caring adult in an at-risk student's life can make all the difference,” said Pamela Sparklingeyes, Program Manager for Aboriginal Learning Services at Edmonton Catholic Schools. North Battleford Comprehensive High School and Sakewew High School have also received ISSI funding to establish graduation coach programs. Battlefords News-Optimist (graduation) | Battlefords News-Optimist (coach program)