Indigenous Top Ten

December 17, 2014

CICan releases Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes

Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) has launched its “Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes.” The Protocol highlights 7 principles that CICan has identified as being essential to meeting Indigenous peoples’ learning needs and to support self-determination and socio-economic development of Indigenous communities. “The Indigenous Protocol highlights opportunities for Canada’s postsecondary institutes to meaningfully collaborate with First Nation communities. Enhancing relationships between First Nation communities and postsecondary providers will likely generate an environment of mutuality designed to encourage success among Aboriginal learners,” said Ken Tourand, Chair of CICan’s Indigenous Education Committee and President of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. CICan has invited all of the 137 colleges, institutes, polytechnics, and CEGEPs it represents to sign the protocol; approximately 25 signed during the launch. CICan News Release | CBC

FOXY sexual health education program wins $1 M Arctic Inspiration prize

A Northwest Territories-based health research program has won the $1 M Arctic Inspiration prize, allowing the program to expand to Yukon and Nunavut. FOXY, or Fostering Open eXpression among Youth, brings sexual health and leadership education to young women in NWT through workshops involving traditional beading, theatre, digital storytelling, photography, and music. The program has been geared towards women since its creation in 2012, but the funding will allow the program to expand to include young men. FOXY relies on a peer network to deliver the workshops, promoting positive sexual health, leadership, and coping skills. “We are thrilled to receive this prestigious prize that will support our team of youth, elders, educators, community-based researchers and artists to deliver sexual health education that is relevant and accessible to youth of all genders, in all 3 territories,” said Candice Lys, FOXY’s co-creator and team leader. The Arctic Inspiration prize is awarded annually to teams working on education, human health, social-cultural, or environmental issues in the Canadian Arctic. CBC | Nunatsiaq Online | NWT News Release

First Aboriginal intern at uSask Library

The University of Saskatchewan's library is welcoming its first Aboriginal intern under an innovative new program. Jessica Generoux has been selected to work part-time in the uSask library system while completing the online Master in Information and Library Science degree program at the University of Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education; tuition is paid by uSask as part of the internship. The library internship developed specifically for an Aboriginal student is part of uSask’s current integrated plan, “Promise and Potential.” “Her presence on the floor, delivering services, will make our libraries more friendly and more welcoming. Increasing the number of Aboriginal employees will also serve as a stronger reminder about the need for us to remember that we are all treaty people and to remember the need for cultural sensitivity around the resources that we handle,” explained Vicki Williamson, Dean of the University Library. uSask’s library system is actively trying to engage Aboriginal people through its collections, facilities, and services, and has committed to increasing the representation of Aboriginal employees. Generoux will also work to promote library-related careers to other Aboriginal students. uSask News

Museum and Elders partner to create Mikinak-Keya cultural experience

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) has partnered with 7 Elders from local Anishinaabe, Cree, and Dakota nations to create the Mikinak-Keya (The Spirit Tour). Mikinak-Keya is a cultural experience that explores rights and responsibilities from a First Nations perspective, and examines how the architectural symbolism of the museum connects to the Seven Sacred Laws and the teachings of Grandmother Turtle. “Mikinak-Keya, the Trail of the Turtle, will inspire Canadian and international visitors to understand Natural Laws and foster a new relationship with the Earth and each other,” said Elder Dave Courchene. CMHR interim President Gail Stephens added, “the Museum has received a gift from the Elders Circle Seven using the symbol of the Turtle to share their perspectives on rights and responsibilities.” CMHR News Release

Concordia pilot project aims to improve school perseverance

A Concordia University pilot project that gives financial support for the development of community-driven initiatives in support of youth education is showing positive results. The initiative, led by Natasha Blanchet-Cohen, an assistant professor in Concordia’s Department of Applied Human Sciences, provided funds for the development of 22 individual projects in 19 First Nations that involve the recognition and integration of culture in education. Initiatives include youth leadership and entrepreneurship programs, communal libraries, and music lessons for composing songs in native languages; the goal of the project is to improve school perseverance by making kids feel they belong in a school setting. “Education can’t be something being done to them, it needs to be done for and with them, by people who understand their needs and their life experiences,” says Blanchet-Cohen. The project also provides opportunities for university students to receive hands-on learning experiences in participating communities. The pilot program is managed by the Centre de transfert pour la réussite éducative du Québec (CTREQ). Concordia News

uLethbridge celebrates new FNMI Gathering Place and digital archive update

The University of Lethbridge recently celebrated the opening of a new First Nations, Métis and Inuit Gathering Place, designed to provide a space for students and community members to gather and share stories and traditions. The centre will be known as Iikaisskini, a Blackfoot word meaning Low Horn, to “represent the stance of a charging buffalo, its head down and horns low to the ground.” uLethbridge President Mike Mahon said, “within the broader academic community, the Gathering Place will play an important educational role by fostering appreciation and respect for FNMI heritage throughout the university and beyond. It will be open and welcoming to all members of the University and broader southern Alberta community.” Additionally, uLethbridge’s library is celebrating the redevelopment of the Blackfoot Digital Library, a digital archive of Blackfoot history, language, and culture, as well as the recent installation of 3 Native American art pieces. “Our students should feel comfortable and welcomed when they come into the library, and that their culture is valued as an integral part of the University community,” said Associate Librarian Wendy Merkley. uLethbridge News (Gathering Place) | uLethbridge News (Library)

Scientists outraged over changes to CIHR’s grant funding

Canadian scientists are alarmed at a recent decision by the governing council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), which some say will force researchers to depend on resource industries for funding. The changes will reportedly cut in half the budgets of each of CIHR’s 13 research institutes, allocating the other half of the money into a common pool. According to CBC, the institutes will need to compete against one another for money in the common pool, and scientists will be forced to find matching external funding. This latter provision is particularly troubling for researchers at the Institute for Aboriginal People’s Health. “Unfortunately for Aboriginal people, we don’t really have many organizations we can leverage with,” said Rod McCormick, BC Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development at Thompson Rivers University. Scientists are also concerned that the changes will force the institutes to rely on industry partners, who may be the source of some health problems. CBC

BC mentorship program looking to expand

A Vancouver-based pilot program that provides mentors for Aboriginal youth in order to increase high school graduation rates is continuing this year and organizers hope for expansion in the near future. The Dogwood-25 Society pairs up Aboriginal postsecondary students with Aboriginal youth in elementary and secondary school. The Dogwood-25 board has representatives from the local community as well as local PSE institutions, including former BC Premier Mike Harcourt; the group hopes to expand the program to other schools in the city, and perhaps provincially as well. Co-Chair Sid Katz has previously worked with the Musqueam First Nation, establishing a partnership between the community and UBC to get children engaged in learning programs after school.

Minister Valcourt working to develop education agreements with individual communities

Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has told the Ottawa Citizen that he is working with individual First Nations on education agreements that would increase funding and establish educational standards. Valcourt paused the impending First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA) earlier this year after Chiefs opposed the bill. Valcourt told the Citizen that he “will not let the politics of the First Nations at the national level deter us from working with the First Nations at the community level to improve education outcomes … We have tools in place where we can, I think, move forward in a positive way and achieve reform without imposing, or without having, a national solution.” Valcourt also said he is not “conquering and dividing” as some have suggested, but is working with “willing partners” to improve education outcomes in First Nations communities. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), who last week elected Perry Bellegarde as its new National Chief, recently issued a statement “calling for the withdrawal of the flawed federal education legislation as a show of good faith so we can engage on a new and real approach to First Nations control of First Nations education.” Ottawa Citizen | National Post

SK announces new career development website

Saskatchewan has launched a new website intended to help students plan for their futures. The new website,, is described by SK Jobs Minister Jeremy Harrison as a “one-stop shop for career planning.” The site includes tools that will help students identify their aptitudes, skills, and strengths; learn about different professions; and identify available training and education opportunities within the province. One tool, called “myBlueprint,” will allow students to investigate career opportunities, set objectives, develop an educational plan, and track their progress over time. The website will be made available across SK over the coming months; it is currently being piloted with 8 school divisions and 2 First Nations. Other delivery methods are also being considered to supplement the website and improve accessibility. StarPhoenix