Indigenous Top Ten

March 11, 2015

NS and BC developing curriculum with First Nations focus

Representatives from Nova Scotia’s Department of Education and local First Nations communities met last week to discuss strategies for including treaty education in the provincial school curriculum, a commitment made by Education Minister Karen Casey. Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny noted that broader treaty education will "improve the relationships between the Mi'kmaq and Nova Scotians … We will have a better understanding of each other, [and] it will fill the gaps and get rid of barriers between the Mi'kmaq and the province." Participants heard of some treaty education insights and best practices from Brenda Ahenakew of Saskatchewan’s Office of the Treaty Commissioner. Stakeholders are now working to determine a timeline for launching the initiative. In BC, the Ministry of Education has launched a series of 5 conferences that will inform the development of new curriculum for First Nations students. Facilitator Kaleb Child said the vision for the conferences is to “further define Aboriginal perspectives and world-views in the classroom, strategize further engagement opportunities for all learners, and to explore regional examples of excellence.” Organizers also plan to develop a comprehensive teacher’s guide to identify common strategies for incorporating Aboriginal perspectives in the classroom. Chronicle Herald | Cape Breton Post | Williams Lake Tribune

Cumberland College launches Indigenizing the College Initiative

Saskatchewan’s Cumberland College has launched an “Indigenizing the College” initiative as part of its overall Strategic Directions. Goals of the initiative include creating a First Nations and Métis Advisory Council to oversee the Indigenization process, establishing an Elders-in-Residence program, developing training around Indigenization to inform the college community about the process, implementing a Representative Workforce Strategy to work towards better representation of the regional population, encouraging instructors to incorporate Aboriginal resources and materials into their curricula, and better understanding and appreciation of the holistic needs of Aboriginal students. “Through the Indigenizing the College process we hope to facilitate a greater understanding about Aboriginal issues within the region and we hope to facilitate dialogue between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities about issues of importance to us all,” said President Tom Weegar. Cumberland News

Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and partner develop Mi'kmaw language apps

Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) and Atlantic Canada's First Nation Help Desk, in consultation with a Mi’kmaw language advisory committee, have developed 12 apps to promote and facilitate language revitalization. The various apps are designed for different levels of fluency and to appeal to users of all ages. The apps are meant to continue learning outside of school hours in an easy and non-threatening way. Mi’kmaw Language Coordinator Blaire Gould believes “bridging the gap between the traditions of the past and technological advancements of today will start to break down walls prohibiting the growth of the language, particularly among youth … We need to cultivate a culture of learning the language and it starts with making it easy to see and hear,” she continued. “And, what’s more accessible to our youth right now than technology?” Most of the apps are now available for iPhone and Android, with more currently being developed. MK News

ON and Teach for Canada partner on teacher recruitment

Ontario has partnered with Teach For Canada on an initiative that will recruit teachers to work in rural and remote communities across northern ON. Teach For Canada is a non-profit organization that works with schools to recruit, prepare, and retain teachers in rural communities, providing training, support, and cultural awareness. The project has 3 goals: “cultivate a new generation of teacher-leaders with a passion for teaching in northern and Aboriginal communities, develop northern Ontario as a hub for rural teacher training, and create well-educated, highly-skilled, and stable communities that are poised for economic growth.” Aboriginal leaders, community members, and students in northern ON will develop criteria for the selected teachers, who will participate in a 4-week training program this summer before starting to teach in the fall. ON is providing $70,000 to the project, through the Rural Economic Development Program. Ontario News Release | Metro News | Teach For Canada News Release

FNUniv unveils new recruitment campaign and redesigned website

First Nations University has launched a new recruitment campaign, coinciding with the release of a redesigned website and a new program catalogue. The campaign tagline—“What’s Your Soul Reason?”—encourages students and members of the FNUniv community to explore their broader reasons for joining the institution. The campaign features students and staff revealing their “Soul Reasons” for choosing FNUniv, focusing on the university’s strengths as an Indigenous postsecondary institution. “These innovative marketing products are geared toward accentuating those aspects of our institution that are distinctive,” said VP Academic Lynn Wells. “We welcome students of every background while we remain true to our original mandate to contribute to the overall well-being of First Nations people and communities.” The refreshed website is designed for current and potential students and is fully mobile-responsive. FNUniv News Release

Seabird College accredited as private career training institution

Seabird College, located on BC’s Seabird Island First Nation, has received accreditation from the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC (PCTIA). As an accredited private institution, Seabird students can now receive government student loans and First Nations students can apply for band funding. Director of Education for Seabird Island Diane Janzen noted the unique design of the college’s “wrap-around” model of support to promote student growth and development, stating, “we can’t have cookie-cutter education, because it doesn’t work.” Seabird provides opportunities for learners to complete their high school education and train for a trades career at the same time. “We’re identifying and giving recognition to the next steps of growth and education here in the community,” said Tyrone McNeil, Seabird College Committee Chair. “It means we’re delivering programs of a standard that the province recognizes."Agassiz-Harrison Observer | Seabird Island Newsletter

UVic collaborates to develop physical activity resource for Métis children

The University of Victoria’s Centre for Early Childhood Research and Policy collaborated with the Island Métis Family and Community Services Society to develop an educational resource with culturally relevant physical activities for young Métis children. The resource includes a booklet and activity materials that incorporate physical movement, literacy, and art while building cultural awareness. The resource focuses on the Métis Red River Cart journey, emphasizing qualities such as endurance, resilience, creativity, resourcefulness, protection, and ingenuity. The activities can be used by educators and caregivers for children ages 3–8. UVic News

SK school divisions strengthen Indigenous initiatives

Regina Public Schools (RPS) recently provided an update on the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (FNMI) Achievement Initiative underway in the division, reporting that although a large gap in graduation rates still exists between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, the percentage of Aboriginal students graduating on time has doubled since 2008–09. The division’s Supervisor of Aboriginal Education Sarah Longman noted that improved data collection, including through the division’s focus on self-declaration, has pointed them to areas needing direct programming. The division has targeted literacy levels at certain grades for improvement, particularly grade 3, to prevent later problems resulting from low literacy. “We’re really working hard [and] pinpointing this primary end, putting our resources there because that’s where our data’s directing us,” said Longman. By 2017, the division aims to reduce the performance gap on all measures of achievement by 10%. Last summer, RPS held a division-wide treaty training event for more than 1,600 faculty and staff using digital technologies and social media to connect participants. Also in Saskatchewan, the Prairie Spirit School Division has received 2 grants through the province’s Invitational Shared Services Initiative. The funds will be directed to initiatives designed by the existing partnership between the division, Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation. Regina Leader-Post | CBC

Dechinta seeking territorial recognition

Supporters of the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning are encouraging the territorial government to recognize the institution through the Northwest Territories Education Act and to increase its annual funding. Dechinta delivers land-basededucational experiences accredited by the University of Alberta. Demand for Dechinta's programs has increased, with applications surpassing available seats. Upgraded core funding would allow Dechinta to expand to more regions in the North, potentially increasing Aboriginal degree holders by 5% over the next 4 years, explained Dean Erin Freeland-Ballantyne. “With core funding, [we would] hire coordinators inside every single community outside Yellowknife … That community coordinator would work with a full-time regional coordinator—and with all of the seasonal elders and leaders and professors—to start organizing, with the support of our university partners and Indigenous faculty, semesters in all the regions.” Education Minister Jackson Lafferty said that he is a supporter of Dechinta, and that he was in discussions with the institution and its accreditors and was also looking into federal funding opportunities. Northern Journal

Feds increase potential donations to Indspire campaign

The federal government has committed to matching an additional $1.4 M in non-federal donations to Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures campaign until March 31, 2015. "Thank you to the Government of Canada for this additional support that will enable us to raise even more funding to support Indigenous students as they strive to complete their post-secondary education. Indspire has disbursed almost $65 million through close to 20,000 bursaries and scholarships, and our research shows that 93% of our funding recipients are graduating and 82% of them are gainfully employed,” said Indspire President Roberta Jamieson. Indspire News | Canada News Release