Indigenous Top Ten

November 19, 2014

CBU’s Purdy Crawford Chair launches crowdfunding campaign

The Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies at Cape Breton University has launched an innovative crowdfunding campaign designed to raise $5 M, $5 at a time. The student-led #StudentHigh5 campaign is guided by the principle “that even the smallest contributions can make a difference in the life of an Aboriginal learner seeking to better themselves, and their communities, by pursuing a university business education.” #StudentHigh5 has been launched on Twitter and Facebook and is designed to raise awareness as well as funds. The campaign will help fund an expansion of the Chair to other provinces, building a stronger support system for Aboriginal learners studying business. Keith G Brown, VP International and Aboriginal Affairs, said, “we hope the message of students helping students will resonate with a broad audience and help to raise the profile of the work of the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies. We want everyone to know that making a difference is as easy as giving a high 5.” Campaign News Release | Campaign Website

Alberta highlighting success stories in Indigenous Education

Alberta has released a series of success stories highlighting best practices in place in several provincial schools. Schools include St Andrew’s School, Livingstone Range School Division, École Springfield Elementary School, Ben Calf Robe School, and Bassano School. The schools are reporting that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students are performing better than provincial averages across a number of grades and subjects. The stories feature best practices credited with fuelling this success, such as the breakfast and lunch program at Ben Calf Robe, the advocacy and outreach programs at schools in the Livingstone Range School Division, and the student-tracking data systems used at École Springfield Elementary. The school programs are supported by community and parent involvement, fostering collaboration between schools and communities. Alberta Education Website

Survey tests first-year students’ knowledge of Indigenous issues

First-year students at 10 Ontario universities have been asked to participate in a survey to determine their knowledge of Indigenous issues. The voluntary survey, launched by Queen’s University professor Anne Godlewska, was developed in consultation with Indigenous groups and is designed to test students on their knowledge of Aboriginal history in Canada. Godlewska was inspired to create the survey after teaching a class on Indigenous geography. "A very great deal has happened in the legal system and social system in Canada. There's been huge activism on the part of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and [students] just knew nothing about it," she said. It is hoped the survey may also indicate why this lack of knowledge exists. Participating students will be asked to complete a second survey in their fourth year. CBC

All course syllabi in WLU’s English and film department will now include territorial acknowledgement

The Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University has taken an unprecedented step towards recognizing the traditional Indigenous territory on which the university’s campuses are located. The department unanimously agreed on a proposal to include territorial acknowledgement on all future departmental class syllabi; the statement will read: “We acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples.” Jean Becker, WLU’s Senior Advisor for Aboriginal Initiatives, expressed pleasure with the new initiative, noting the importance of protocol such as territorial acknowledgement. Department Chair Ute Lischke stated, “in many of our classes at Laurier we critique power dynamics and including this acknowledgement on our course outlines certainly helps to raise students’ awareness about the continuing nature of colonialism. Such a statement will also help students to think about our own personal relationship to this history.” WLU News

MK schools adopt yoga program

Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey (MK) is pleased with the early results of a new physical activity initiative introduced this school year: yoga. MK teachers have been learning the “Yoga in Schools” program, enabling them to teach a variety of yoga forms, including Yoga for Special Needs. Students involved in the program are reporting benefits including personal connection and self-empowerment. “Our classrooms are busy places with lots of needs, and to return to something so fundamental as breathing and stretching is essential,” said Janean Marshall, Students Services Coordinator at MK. “Incorporating learning opportunities in the classroom where students are learning while moving improves students’ total well-being while decreasing challenging behaviours.” The program is being offered at schools across Atlantic Canada, and is reportedly the first yoga teacher program in North America to be implemented into the public school system as a credit course. MK News

FNUniv continuing successful in-community pilot project

A pilot project launched last year by First Nations University is considered a success and is now being expanded to multiple sites. The Indigenous Access and Transition Education Certificate (IATEC) program—piloted on the Piapot First Nation—provides learners the opportunity to take introductory university classes in their home community, taught by FNUniv professors. The program was modified from the original format based on student feedback and is being run again at Piapot; in addition, the program is now being offered at FNUniv’s Prince Albert campus and may be offered at Parkland Regional College in the future. Lynn Wells, FNUniv VP Academic, noted that the “institution is committed to the delivery of community programs and is investing the human resources to ensure they are successful.” Regina Leader-Post

Programs benefiting Aboriginal learners see funding cuts in SK, BC

A funding dispute is behind the closure of the Aboriginal Mentoring and Training Association (AMTA) in BC, an organization that helped more than 1,000 First Nations members get jobs in BC’s mining sector. The federal government withdrew funding from the program citing “questionable expense claims” and unaccounted-for spending. “We are confident we have followed through on all our commitments to First Nation communities, companies and the government,” said AMTA Executive Director Laurie Sterritt. Program officials will attempt to seek alternate funding to continue the program in future. Government cuts are also affecting a program in Saskatchewan designed to get First Nation students in northern communities interested in science. Global News reports that the provincial government has cut $10,000 in funding to the Science Ambassadors Program, which involves students from the University of Saskatchewan educating youth about science. The program is relying on other donors to continue. Globe and Mail Global News

COTR opens new Aboriginal Gathering Place

Late last month, BC’s College of the Rockies celebrated the opening of its new Aboriginal Gathering Place, designed to provide a “welcoming, safe and supportive learning environment for Aboriginal students.” The Gathering Place recognizes the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation and serves to build bridges between different cultures and worldviews. “This new building reaffirms the Ktunaxa Nation's and College of the Rockies' commitment to supporting and enhancing Aboriginal education in Ktunaxa territory. This close collaboration has resulted in this beautiful new space where students from all over the world can learn and share in a supportive and inclusive environment," said Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Chair. Ktunaxa Elder Herman Alpine provided a blessing at a sunrise ceremony prior to the grand opening ceremony. COTR News Release

ON PSE institutions working to include Indigenous perspectives

In Ontario, 2 PSE institutions have been continuing efforts to include the perspectives of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. Sudbury’s Laurentian University has been actively trying to increase the number of Indigenous faculty members at the university, and has surpassed its original recruitment goal by double. “To level the playing field, if you will, it's really important that Aboriginal faculty are seen in the university across a variety of disciplines,” said AVP Academics and Indigenous programs Sheila Cote Meek. In Ottawa, Carleton University is building on recent initiatives and introducing 2 new graduate diplomas in Indigenous Policy and Administration (IPA) and an IPA stream in the MA in Public Administration. The new programs include classes in Indigenous history, policy, community development, and leadership. CBC | CBC Radio Interview | Carleton IPA Program website

Time to focus on education reform, say Aboriginal leaders

Less than a month before the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) votes in its new National Chief, Aboriginal leaders across Canada are calling for progress on education reform. “We are trying to get the government to understand that in order for the process to be successful, there needs to be engagement under the right conditions,” said AFN interim National Chief Ghislain Picard. Chiefs voted in opposition to the federal First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act last spring, prompting the federal government to halt the legislation and refuse any funding increases. Picard is calling for full engagement between government and First Nations and an immediate infusion of extra resources; he said chiefs and government should work to have a new plan in place by September 2015. A recently released federal document shows that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) shifted half a billion dollars from the infrastructure budget to cover shortfalls in other areas, including education, resulting in an "inability to provide provincial-like services on reserve.” Calgary Herald |CTV News | Chiefs of Ontario News Release