Indigenous Top Ten

December 3, 2014

CBU’s Purdy Crawford Chair expands business mentorship program nationally

Cape Breton University’s Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies has expanded the "In.Business – A Business Network for Aboriginal Youth" initiative, designed to get Aboriginal youth interested in business education and to provide support through a mentorship program. The initiative was previously known as the Business Network for Aboriginal Youth. “The national program … will have approximately 300 students and 50 mentors from across Canada when we complete the rollout. Our main goal is to provide students from across Canada with the opportunity to participate in The Crawford Chair’s Aboriginal business mentorship program regardless of where they live in Canada,” said Keith G Brown, Purdy Crawford Chair Holder and VP International and Aboriginal Affairs. The Eastern Conference launch included participants from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec; Western and Northern Conference launches are scheduled for early 2015. Also launched at the event was a new interactive business simulation game, “Music Mogul,” to be used as an education resource. The game incorporates popular Aboriginal musicians to help engage youth. The national expansion of the program is partially funded by the #StudentHigh5 fundraising campaign. CBU News | Cape Breton Post

Storytelling connects Indigenous youth with culture, Elders

Storytelling projects at opposite ends of Canada are connecting Indigenous youth with community Elders, traditional culture, and healthy ways of living. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the annual Labrador Creative Arts Festival brings visiting artists to Indigenous youth, helping them write plays, perform, and learn about the arts. Students can learn valuable skills and increase confidence while exploring their artistic sides. At Vancouver Island University, a digital storytelling project is empowering Indigenous youth to create and share digital stories about topics such as healthy living, Indigenous foods, community connections, and preserving traditional knowledge. Students are trained as mentors and research assistants, and travel around teaching other youth and Elders how to use technology to preserve traditions and stories. “Digital storytelling technology can connect youth and Elders in remote communities, and assist Aboriginal educators in engaging youth in discussions about healthy living … It provides the opportunity for youth to think deeply about a topic as they tell their story,” said project lead Jennifer Mullett of VIU’s Centre for Healthy Communities Research (CHCR). APTN News | VIU News

SRSC co-publishes first book

The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) at Algoma University has co-published its first book under the new SRSC Imprint, titled Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, by Larry Loyie. The book explores the residential school experience in the voices of survivors, with photos from personal collections and archives. “We wanted to write a readable history that shared many views of the schools,” said Loyie. “The biggest challenge was how to handle the material so that it could be read by all ages. Residential school histories are usually written for adults. The book explains the schools for all readers no matter what their age or background.”Residential Schools was published by SRSC in partnership with Indigenous Education Press in Brantford, ON. A national history, the book’s chapters include the “importance of culture, traditions and families, life at school, the dark side of abuse, friendship and laughter, and the power of healing and education in a changing world.” AlgomaU News Release

Canada announces $500 M for First Nations school infrastructure

The federal government has announced $500 M for First Nations school infrastructure, as part of a larger $5.8 B infrastructure package. The amount matches that announced as part of the 2014 budget, and the amount announced in February as part of the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA), the controversial legislation that was paused by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) when Chiefs opposed it. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has responded, stating the funding “falls short of what is needed right now and is stretched over a longer time period.  Until we address real needs and a new approach to First Nations education, First Nations children will fall further behind.” The federal government has not confirmed any details around the funding. The AFN is calling on the government to reaffirm its commitment to increase funding for Aboriginal education and to engage in education reform through an “honourable process.” CBC | APTN News | AFN News Release

Important factors when recruiting Indigenous women to the skilled trades

In a recent webinar, Beverly Blanchard from the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) discussed several factors for companies and training programs to consider when recruiting Aboriginal women to the skilled trades. Noting that many women are unaware of available opportunities in the skilled trades, Blanchard explained that recruitment messages must be geared towards specific groups, such as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, due to cultural and geographic differences. "You need to use a variety of role models when you're looking at doing advertising, creation of posters, or videos. It's important to understand what culture matches what segment. There's a lot of importance with building community networks," she said. The webinar, “Diversity in the Skilled Trades: Recruiting and Retaining Aboriginal Women,” was hosted by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, which works with a variety of regional and national organizations to promote the inclusion of under-represented groups in the skilled trades. Daily Commercial News

Aboriginal education leads in Ontario gather for annual conference

Ontario’s Provincial Board Leads of Aboriginal Education, representing the majority of public, Catholic, and French language school boards in the province, recently gathered for a 2-day conference titled “Tentewatéweyenhste - Let us Learn Together.” Also at the conference were members of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit advisory groups from various boards, Elders, directors, superintendents, and Ministry of Education representatives. The conference participants shared stories of success and transformation, with some noting the improvements they see in students as students come to see themselves and their cultures reflected in the curriculum, finding pride and confidence. Participants also took note of low literacy and numeracy rates among Indigenous students, emphasizing that students must have a sense of wellbeing if they are to succeed academically. Participants spoke of efforts to indigenize the learning experience and of ways to further engage not only students in the learning process, but also parents and communities in education, and educators in Indigenous education. Organizer/host Troy Maracle stated, “we have made tremendous advances in so many areas and I thought that it was time to celebrate and share our accomplishments, but more, it was time to build our knowledge through collaboration and sharing of these very accomplishments.” Further Information

Frontier College releases report on 2014 summer reading camps

Frontier College has released its annual report on the 2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Aboriginal Summer Reading Camps, this year held in 24 communities in northern Ontario. Almost 3,000 children attended the 3-week camps, with some children able to attend back-to-back sessions. The camps teach literacy and numeracy through group reading activities, field trips, community events, arts and crafts, and cultural activities, working to combat summer learning loss and to cultivate a love of reading in the children. Evaluation results suggest that 81% of kids who attended the camp liked reading more after camp; 100% of teachers said they noticed an increase in school readiness and self-esteem among kids who attended camp. A majority of parents said they noticed improved social skills and attitudes towards reading, and that they felt their children maintained or improved skills over the summer. Frontier College also trains community members to deliver the camp programs, benefitting additional community members and engaging them in youth education. Full Report

OFIFC celebrates alternative secondary school partnership

The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) is highlighting a long-standing partnership with the provincial Ministry of Education that delivers the Alternative Secondary School Program (ASSP) at Friendship Centres across Ontario. Educators and administrators involved with ASSP gathered last month to share best practices and ideas, and to celebrate the program’s growth to 11 program sites, where an average of 1,000 learners access ASSP annually. The program is delivered by local district school board teachers, while ASSP Coordinators, hired by the Friendship Centres, provide support for students and engage in community outreach. “An accessible and open education system, delivered through alternative opportunities, is a strategic component in addressing higher than acceptable rates of Aboriginal students leaving the current system not because they want to but because at times they have little choice,” said program developer and OFIFC Executive Director Sylvia Maracle. OFIFC News 

First Nations youth benefit from One Laptop Per Child donations

Young students at several First Nations schools are able to embrace technology thanks to donations from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. In Sheshatsiu, Newfoundland and Labrador, grade 1 students received specialized tablets that are pre-loaded with educational apps. In Ontario, Sagamok and Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nations both received tablets from OLPC. Biidaaban Kinoomaagegamik Elementary School in Sagamok received 70 tablets for students ranging from JK to grade 6. Atikameksheng Anishnawbek received 50 tablets and 5 laptops for the community library’s after school program. The included software is designed to help students with literacy, numeracy, and fine motor skills, as well as to introduce students to technology that they may not have access to at home. The devices also include apps that promote Indigenous languages and are pre-loaded with more than 100 e-books, including children’s stories by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit authors. APTN News |

BC announces funding for in-community training programs

BC has announced the latest recipients of funding through the Aboriginal Community-Based Delivery Partnerships Program. Partnerships between communities and local PSE institutions result in a range of in-community programs including upgrading, early childhood education, culinary skills, and construction trades. The funding recipients are Lhtako Dene Nation (College of New Caledonia), Ooknakane Friendship Centre and En’owkin Centre in Penticton (Nicola Valley Institute of Technology), Squamish Nation (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Xeni Gwet’in First Nations (Thompson Rivers University), and Osoyoos Indian Band (Okanagan College). An unrelated partnership between BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the Industry Training Authority of BC, the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS), Camosun College, and industry has resulted in the launch of a Marine Fitter program at BCIT. The inaugural class of ACCESS students will learn skills related to the shipbuilding industry. Funding was provided through BC’s Labour Market Partnerships program. BC News Release (NVIT) | TRU News Release | KPU News Release | BC News Release (Okanagan) | BC News Release (College of New Caledonia) | BCIT News Release