Indigenous Top Ten

January 14, 2015

Arctic College and UVic partner on language-revitalization program

Nunavut Arctic College and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Victoria have partnered to launch the Certificate in Aboriginal Language Revitalization (CALR) program at Arctic College, specifically for the Kitikmeot region. The CALR program was developed in consultation with local Inuit communities and is designed to “strengthen understanding of the complex context and characteristics of language loss, maintenance, and recovery, while developing knowledge and strategies for language revitalization within communities.” The program is open to anyone interested in the topic of language loss and revitalization. Completion of the program will provide a foundation for language-revitalization projects, or for further study in education, linguistics, or related areas. Arctic College News

Nursing instructor at CNC publishes first textbook on Aboriginal health care in Canada

A nursing instructor at BC’s College of New Caledonia has published what is reportedly the first entry-level textbook dedicated to Indigenous health in Canada. Introduction to Aboriginal Health and Health Care in Canada, developed by Vasiliki Douglas, offers a historical view of Aboriginal health in Canada and an introduction to the diversity of Aboriginal cultures, followed by a section that explores topics such as determinants of Aboriginal health, diseases, mental health, women’s and children’s health, and the future of Aboriginal healthcare. The necessity for cultural safety is prominent throughout the textbook, emphasizing the need to treat patients without denying their identities, and while supporting the patient spiritually and emotionally. “Cultural safety offers the potential to bridge the divide between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals in the health care system,” said Douglas. “I strongly believe that increased knowledge of cultural safety will improve levels of care, and wrote An Introduction to Aboriginal Health and Health Care in Canada with this in mind.” Douglas is currently working on a manuscript for a textbook that focuses on Aboriginal women’s health in Canada. CNC News | Prince George Citizen

MNO launches new Cultural Portal site and app

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has released a new resource that allows users to explore Métis history and culture in an interactive format. The MNO Cultural Portal is an interactive map that guides users through Ontario’s Métis history, highlighting individuals and events from the past and present using photos and videos. Topics explored in the portal include Métis history and Métis traditional knowledge, as well as current events such as the group of Métis youth who travelled a traditional voyageur route by canoe this past summer. The Cultural Portal is also available as a free app for smartphone users. MNO News | Cultural Portal

MRU students add anti-racist, feminist voices to Wikipedia

An innovative assignment in a senior-level Women’s Studies class at Mount Royal University has expanded the information available online about Indigenous women, organizations, and events. The students were asked first to edit existing pages on Wikipedia that had inaccurate or stereotypical information, adding an anti-racist, feminist, and theoretical voice to the articles. The students’ final assignment was to create a Wikipedia entry that serves to balance the documented gender bias of Wikipedia, which was called a “patchwork of well-researched posts, blended with stereotypical and outdated information” by one of the course professors. “A lot of really important or commonplace information simply doesn't exist on Wikipedia,” said assistant professor Jessie Loyer. “So there is a huge gap where we don't see the same kind of coverage for issues connected to Indigenous people, particularly women.” The project was described by students as eye-opening, and several have pledged to continue the work on their own. MRU News

New books provide ways of connecting youth to language, culture

2 new books provide educators with valuable resources to connect Indigenous youth with traditional language and culture. Community members in Lutsel K’e, Northwest Territories, welcomed a new Chipewyan dictionary, launched by the South Slave District Education Council (SSDEC). The dictionary was developed in consultation from community members and students, who contributed more than 500 words to the dictionary. Its creators hope that the dictionary will help stimulate use of Chipewyan both at school and at home. In addition, a Nunavut throat-singer has released her first children’s book, Sweetest Kulu, which uses animals from the Arctic to impart traditional values and lessons to children. The book was named “Best Bedtime Picture Book” of 2014 by Huffington Post for its beautiful illustrations and poetic narrative. Northern Journal | APTN | Nunatsiaq Online

Youth programs introduce students to current issues

2 new programs are providing opportunities for Indigenous youth to explore topics such as the environment and the Canadian justice system. At Ottawa’s Rideau High School, the Dare to Dream program—created by Canadian Lawyers Abroad (CLA)—allows Indigenous students aged 11-14 to take part in a mock trial and go on field trips to the court house, high-profile law firms, and law schools. “In essence the program seeks to positively transform the way Aboriginal youth perceive and engage with the justice system,” said CLA Executive Director Brittany Twiss. “So it's a program focused on justice education, empowerment, and mentorship.” In BC, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon has launched Stewards of the Future, an environmental education program for high school teachers and student leaders throughout the province. The program provides grants for field trips, fees for programs and guest speakers, and other expenses; program partners include BC Parks and the Ministry of Education. Stewards of the Future emphasizes hands-on, "place-based" experience to foster appreciation and enhancement of biodiversity, encouraging open discussion around issues affecting natural surroundings. CBC | Revelstoke Times Review

Winnipeg school division strives to include Indigenous perspectives

Students and educators in Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks School Division are highlighting initiatives designed to bring Indigenous perspectives into the classroom. Rebecca Chartrand, division lead for Aboriginal education, recently received a Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Award from Indspire for her work developing the division’s Aboriginal Education Policy, which ensures Indigenous knowledge is incorporated in all core curricula. Another initiative, in partnership with local organization Ka Ni Kanichihk, involves a transition program for Indigenous youth from the North that must travel to Winnipeg for school. As well, the Community Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (CATEP), a partnership between Seven Oaks School Division, Winnipeg School Division, and the University of Winnipeg, allows Aboriginal educational assistants to complete their program while working full- or part-time for Seven Oaks. Division teacher Amy Carpenter also strives to include Indigenous perspectives in all courses, which student Kaigan Olson said gives her a "sense of place." "It just gives you a sense that you’re still here. And people need to learn you’re still here because there are still people that think really stereotypical things of you," said Olson. Winnipeg Free Press

Construction of Aboriginal student centre at uSask on track

The Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre at the University of Saskatchewan is on track for completion in 2015, reports the StarPhoenix. When completed, the 1,884-square-metre building, designed by famed Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal, will house the Indigenous Students’ Council and the Aboriginal Students’ Centre. The building incorporates Indigenous symbolic elements into the surrounding architecture of the university, including representation of the 4 directions and seasons. Cardinal told the StarPhoenix that he “felt like the project came from the students and the elders, because they defined their needs and what sort of vision they had for the future as well … It is very much turning out the way I envisioned, and I feel good about it.” uSask reported a 12% increase in Aboriginal enrolment this past fall, bringing the total number of Indigenous students on campus to almost 2,000. Cardinal also recently designed Ojigkwanong, the new Aboriginal Centre at Carleton University. StarPhoenix

BC celebrating increased graduation rates for Indigenous students

The BC government is reporting increases in the graduation rates of the province’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students. The 6-year completion rate for Aboriginal students reached a record high of 62% in 2013-14, a 46% increase from the rate in 2000-01. Fort Nelson, Conseil scolaire francophone, and Sea to Sky school districts all had Aboriginal completion rates over 80%, while Vancouver Island West and Stikine school districts were highlighted for having the most significant increases over 2012-13. Tyrone McNeil, President of the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), credited the “renewed spirit of collaboration” between the ministry and FNESC, and the dedication of trustees and principals to make First Nations education a priority. “When our students see themselves reflected in the curriculum they tend to latch on and do better,” said McNeil. School District 43 is highlighting their improved numbers this year also, where the 6-year completion rate for Aboriginal students is now 75%, partially credited to the new Suwa'lkh School in Coquitlam, which embeds First Nations culture into core and elective courses. BC News Release | Vancouver Sun | Tri-City News

Basics of powwow being taught at uRegina

The University of Regina is offering a beginner’s powwow class through the uRegina Conservatory, open to all members of the public. Instructor Lacy Morin-Desjarlais will be sharing not just dance steps but the history and philosophy of powwow dancing, “giving that world view to other people, so they can understand what that means, and how powwow fits into First Nation communities culturally.” The class is open to everyone, regardless of ethnicity or age, and doesn’t require previous dance experience. “I’m going to be teaching them not just how to do powwow, but to get in touch with their bodies and get a bit more conditioning and fitness as well,” said Morin-Desjarlais, who is pleased to be able to share Indigenous culture with a wider audience. Regina Leader-Post