Indigenous Top Ten

October 22, 2014

Yukon College announces its first independent degree program

Yukon College has announced that it will begin offering its first made-in-Yukon degree program and post-graduate certificate program in 2017. The college currently offers 3 degree programs in collaboration with the University of Alberta and the University of Regina. The new degree program, a 3-year Bachelor of Policy Studies in Indigenous Governance, is designed “to foster executive leadership with respect to administrative, political and corporate management, and from an Indigenous perspective," said Director of First Nations Initiatives Tosh Southwick. The Yukon government has committed to help fund the new degree program and the new one-year post-graduate certificate in climate change and public policy. YK Minister of Education Elaine Taylor stated, “by enabling more Yukon students to remain at home and continue their education, and by creating niche programs that attract more students from around the world, these advancements will develop and retain knowledge in the North, as well as bring new dollars to the territory.” Yukon College News | CBC

UCN forms 2 partnerships to allow high school students to pursue dual-credit programs

University College of the North has partnered with the Kelsey School Division in The Pas, Manitoba and the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) to provide opportunities for high school students to receive dual credits for courses taken at UCN. Students can now enrol in several UCN programs and receive high school credits at the same time; programs include heavy duty mechanics, power mechanics, carpentry, culinary arts, early childhood education, and health-care aide. “We must do what we can to ensure that programming is made available [for students] to succeed.  Such partnerships are essential for continued student learning and help provide for future employment opportunities in the trades,” said Edwin Jebb, Chair of the Opaskwayak Educational Authority. Kelsey School Division Superintendent Doug Long added, “we know that the trades and technology are an important part of the growth of our students, community and the north … As we renew and expand our connections to University College of the North, our students will benefit with expanded programming opportunities that will lead to further opportunities after graduation.” MB News Release

Socio-economic conditions affect education and skills in Canada's territories

Canada’s territories are falling behind the provinces in the areas of education and skills performance, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report on education and skills performance in the territories. The report identifies significant attainment differences between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations in the territories, and notes that “socio-economic conditions and cultural factors” have a strong influence on education levels. The report also indicates that available data on adult skills in the territories is limited, and that many traditional skills practiced by Aboriginal peoples in the North are not accurately measured by international assessments or by Statistics Canada surveys. Further, the report indicates that critical infrastructure issues further impede the delivery of education services. Yukon is leading the territories in high school, university, college, and apprenticeship attainment, and has the highest concentration of college graduates aged 25 to 64 in Canada, with 24% of the territory's working-age population having a college diploma. Conference Board News Release | Full Report

High enrolment numbers celebrated in SK and MB

PSE institutions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are reporting increases in Aboriginal student numbers, due to increased recruitment efforts, greater emphasis on the importance of self-declaring, demographic growth, and better efforts by institutions to track Aboriginal students. The University of Regina is reporting an increase of nearly 50% over 5 years, with a one-year increase of 6%, bringing total Aboriginal enrolment to more than 11% of the total student body. The University of Saskatchewan is reporting a 12% increase in Aboriginal enrolment, bringing the total number of Aboriginal students to nearly 2,000. Both Saskatchewan Polytechnic (formerly SIAST) and First Nations University are also reporting increases, as is the University of Winnipeg, which reports an increase in enrolment of more than 10% for first-year enrolment of Aboriginal students. Supports such as Aboriginal student centres are key to the success of Aboriginal students, and can have a positive effect on the retention, as well as the recruitment, of Aboriginal students, points out uSask Students’ Union President Max FineDay. Windspeaker | CBC |StarPhoenix | uRegina News

First Nations language revitalization in BC gets funding boost

BC non-profit New Relationship Trust (NRT) has committed $750,000 to the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) to launch the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Project. The funding will enable increased language and cultural revitalization projects across the province, including mentor apprentice programs, support for educators to develop lesson plans, programs to develop long-term strategies for language revitalization, and projects that support traditional arts. One community, the Tseshaht First Nation, is planning a language nest immersion program for young children using the funds. “The funding from NRT has been essential to the success of arts and language revitalization in BC communities. We are grateful for the support of the NRT Board and their investment in the future of our BC First Nations art forms and languages,” said Tracey Herbert, Executive Director of FPCC. NRT News Release | Ha-Shilth-Sa

Need to take the “long view” when it comes to Indigenous education

In a recent submission to Academic Matters, Indigenous teacher-education pioneer lolehawk Laura Buker writes that it is imperative that PSE institutions “take the long view” on Indigenous education, reflecting and engaging in dialogue on the future rather than the present. Buker notes that many PSE programs, and specifically teacher-education programs, have begun to include more Indigenous ways of knowing and perspectives, but she asserts, “a renewed commitment from our universities to move Indigenous education goals and programs forward is necessary as we move into the next decade.” Buker points to 4 areas that can help renew Aboriginal education goals: change, respect for Indigenous knowledge, opening doors for community partnership, and recognition of the new storytellers. “The long view towards Indigenous Education is that change takes time to gain momentum, to get the wheels in motion, and to keep going forward. This is not the moment in history to reduce funding for the aspects of Indigenous education that are necessary for growth and capacity building,” says Buker. Academic Matters

UNB receives $500,000 gift to support Aboriginal students

The University of New Brunswick has received $500,000 from The John and Judy Bragg Family Foundation to establish scholarships and bursaries for Aboriginal students in the Faculty of Education. A portion of the funds will be used to establish a summer camp initiative for Aboriginal high school students. The student awards will be named for former prime minister Paul Martin, who is a close friend of the Braggs and has devoted his post-political career to improve educational outcomes for Canada’s Indigenous youth. “Education is one answer to the challenges facing many in our Aboriginal communities. It is our hope, through the creation of these scholarships, bursaries and programs, that we can provide opportunities for meaningful change,” said John Bragg. Ann Sherman, Dean of the Faculty of Education, added, “we believe in, and strive toward, improving the social and economic strength of Aboriginal Peoples to a level enjoyed by other Canadians.” UNB News Release

TD donates to TRU’s Aboriginal Mentor Program

The TD Bank Group has donated $350,000 over 5 years to Thompson Rivers University for the continuation of its Aboriginal Mentor Program. The donation will establish an endowment for ongoing student participation in the program, which pairs first- or second-year students with upper-year students who can provide guidance and advice on a range of issues. This year, one student mentor and one mentee each received $5,000 and $2,000, respectively. Once the endowment is fully established, 2 mentors and 2 mentees will be awarded funding every year. “Some Aboriginal students face significant challenges while they attend university. This generous gift from TD creates a sustainable model which supports students financially and through mentorship,” said TRU President Alan Shaver. TRU News

NWCC partners on remote delivery of field assistant training

Building on the success of a recent pilot program, Northwest Community College’s School of Exploration & Mining has partnered with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association (KIA), the Mine Training Society of the Northwest Territories (MTS), and the Canadian High Artic Research Station (CHARS) on the remote delivery of a customized Natural Resource Field Assistant program. The program, delivered in Kugluktuk, prepares graduates for field work in the mineral exploration, environmental services, and natural resources fields. “The delivery of this program shows how Northwest Community College’s School of Exploration & Mining is nimble in its response to the needs of industry and communities to deliver programs remotely,” says NWCC President Ken Burt, adding that partnerships like these are what make innovative programming a reality for students. NWCC News

Language revitalization projects highlighted

Language revitalization efforts are in full-swing in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and Listuguj First Nation in Quebec. In Cambridge Bay, Inuinnaqtun language courses are offered by the Pirurvik Centre for Inuit Language, Culture and Wellbeing. The program is offered in partnership with the Nunavut government, with learners able to enrol in beginner or advanced courses. Pirurvik is also offering Inuktitut language courses in other communities across the territory. In QC, the Listuguj Education Directorate has partnered with McGill University on a Mi’gmaq revitalization project. Language classes are taught in the community over the summer, with many people dedicated to the revitalization of the Mi’gmaq language and culture. As one McGill student involved in the summer program noted, “it is not just knowledge that is passed down. Stories, poetry and music hold their roots in language. These are not merely pastimes or entertainments, they form vital connections to the past—to what life used to be like, how it has changed and where it might go.” Nunatsiaq Online | McGill Reporter