Indigenous Top Ten

March 25, 2015

Nunavut government looks at establishing university, standardizing written Inuktitut

Education was a hot topic at the recent sitting of Nunavut’s legislative assembly. Education Minister Paul Quassa announced that the territory is moving forward with plans to explore the creation of a university in the territory. Quassa said they are working on an “options” paper that explores various possibilities for a university, including a stand-alone university, a university college, a pan-territorial university, an Inuit Nunangat university, or some combination of these. A workshop for stakeholders is planned for the near future, and Quassa hopes to present a plan and concept at the spring assembly. Quassa also announced that the government is looking into standardizing the Inuktitut writing system used in schools across the country. Inuktitut is currently taught in both Roman orthography and syllabics, depending on the region, but Quassa said that standardizing the use of Roman orthography “has the potential to build an environment where students would be better equipped for learning more than one language.” The territorial government has the approval of the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit language authority to explore the benefits of standardizing the written language system, and will move forward on the first, exploratory phase. CBC (1) | CBC (2) | CBC (3) | Nunatsiaq Online (1) | Nunatsiaq Online (2)

New report details benefits of increasing number of Aboriginal nurses

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada’s Saskatchewan Institute suggests that more Aboriginal nurses are needed in northern and Aboriginal communities. The report, Healthy Foundations: Nursing’s Role in Building Strong Aboriginal Communities, discusses the benefits of increasing Aboriginal representation in health professions, especially nursing, such as improving access and continuity of care, reducing the costs involved in attracting and retaining outside nursing professionals, and improving community self-sufficiency and self-determination. The report also examines new and innovative approaches to delivering nursing education in rural and remote communities, including the use of remote presence technology by the College of Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan. "There is broad consensus from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, all levels of government, and the health regions, that we need to have more Aboriginal nurses if we want to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and make the health care system more representative of the clientele it serves," stated co-author and uSask nursing Dean Lorna Butler. uSask’s Native Access Program to Nursing has been assisting students with access to nursing education for more than 2 decades. Lakehead University researchers have also looked at ways to increase the number of Aboriginal nurses in Ontario. Conference Board News Release | Lakehead Report

4 Manitoba First Nations partner with feds on school infrastructure project

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt has announced an education infrastructure partnership with 4 Manitoba First Nations that will allow the renovation or construction of on-reserve schools. Bunibonibee Cree Nation, God’s Lake First Nation, Manto Sipi Cree Nation, and Wasagamack First Nation have partnered on the project, which will result in cost savings due to centralized project management and bundled shipping and materials costs. The school projects will now proceed to the design stage; the budget for the project will be determined once designs and tenders are chosen. Funding for the project will come from a $500 M First Nations school infrastructure fund, announced last December. "God’s Lake First Nation is pleased that we are moving forward with this project that will help accommodate our high school students who currently have to leave the community to continue their education after grade 9,” said Chief Gilbert Andrews. Canada News Release | CBC | Global News | Thompson Citizen

CBU launches central region chapter of In.Business at uWinnipeg

The University of Winnipeg this month hosted the launch of the Central Region program of “In.Business – A Business Network for Indigenous Youth,” developed by Cape Breton University’s Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies. 60 students and 13 mentors gathered to kick off the program, in which students will pursue business ideas and compete in challenges, allowing them to explore the world of business and make informed decisions about postsecondary studies. “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 Crawford Chair holder Keith G Brown. The federal government has committed $5 M over 5 years to the initiative. uWinnipeg News | Canada News Release | CBU News

Educators bring Indigenous knowledge into the classroom

Several schools have recently highlighted innovative and successful methods of including Aboriginal perspectives and ways of knowing in curricula. At St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, students worked with local storyteller Isaac Murdoch and Métis artist Christi Belcourt to develop a series of murals based on a traditional Anishinabek legend. Another method used to include Indigenous perspectives in ON schools is theatre; the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is launching a 10-week tour of the play Spirit Horse in order to teach students and teachers in 75 communities about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit diversity, history, and perspectives. Theatre is also used by University of Lethbridge professor Michelle Hogue in her Learning Science Through Theatre program, which, along with the K’ITSM-Club, introduces Aboriginal youth to science and math topics from an Indigenous perspective. Back in ON, the University of Windsor’s Aboriginal Education Centre has partnered with the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board on the delivery of 2 programs that use physical activity to introduce students to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) topics. And in BC, Stawamus Elementary School will no longer operate as a traditional elementary school and will transition to the Cultural Journeys program, a collaboration between the local school division and the Squamish Nation. The new program, open to all students, is an outdoors-based, academically rigorous education program with a First Nations focus. Anishinabek News | ETFO News Release | uLethbridge News | uWindsor News | CBCSquamish Chief

St Mary’s University launches First Nations, Métis and Inuit Partnership

St Mary’s University in Calgary has officially launched a new First Nations, Métis and Inuit Partnership consisting of 4 pillars: the FNMI Advisory Council, Elders on Campus program, Scholars on Campus program, and the FNMI Liaison Specialist. The partnership will allow the university to better work with the Indigenous community to support Aboriginal learners. “By integrating FNMI ways of knowing and being, we will make St Mary’s a better university for all learners. The partnership we are celebrating was built on respect, trust and a strong desire to move forward together,” said inaugural Liaison Specialist Michelle Scott. STMU stated in a news release that “the launch of the 4 foundational pillars paves the way in creating a learning environment that encourages opportunity and success for FNMI students.” STMU News

Resiliency programs at 3 NT schools receive funding

3 schools in the Northwest Territories have received funding to enhance or develop resiliency programs. The territorial government will provide each school—Diamond Jenness Secondary School in Hay River, K’álemì Dene School in Ndilo, and Helen Kalvak Elihakvik school in Ulukhaktok—with $50,000 through the Education Renewal and Innovation initiative. “Building resiliency in youth makes them stronger and better able to deal with challenges in their lives,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty. “Resiliency programs help youth connect to the community and culture they live in. This encourages positive relationships, develops leadership skills, and strengthens that young person’s identity and well-being.” The programs were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including the stated goal of the program, cultural relevance, and community-building. Program coordinators at each school will work together with the department to evaluate program success, potentially leading to the development of a framework for further expansion of resiliency programs. NT News 

Cambrian’s mobile learning centre helps youth access trades training

A group of Aboriginal youth are set to graduate from Cambrian College’s Youth Exposure to Skilled Trades Program, a mobile training centre that was based on the Whitefish River First Nation in northern Ontario. The 38-week program was a partnership between Cambrian, the First Nation, and ON’s Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI). Students spent the first 30 weeks working in-class on completing grade 12 graduation requirements, upgrading, and taking college-level courses; 8 weeks were spent learning introductory skills in the mobile training unit geared towards trades such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and welding. The students will now complete a 2-week job placement. “The program gave me the opportunity to get my Grade 12,” said one student. “I have tried before, but the program really helped. I’ve always been interested in the trades too so it was a win-win.” The mobile training lab is a 53-foot trailer that deploys to provide almost 1,000-square-feet of instructional space. Cambrian News | Manitoulin Expositor 

SK commits funding for Aboriginal learners in 2015–16 budget

Saskatchewan released its 2015–16 budget last week, committing funds for the province’s Aboriginal learners. The province will allocate $5.1 M to initiatives that address recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis People, including $2.4 M for the Invitational Shared Services Initiative (ISSI) partnerships. Of this funding, $1.5 M will be used to continue the 10 ISSI partnerships already developed, and the remainder will help develop 6 new partnerships. The province will also provide $30.8 M for Adult Basic Education and Provincial Training Allowance programs through the Ministry of the Economy. $20.2 M in direct funding has been allocated through the Ministry of Advanced Education for PSE institutions that serve a predominantly Aboriginal population. These institutions will also benefit from access to the PSE infrastructure fund of $46.6 M. “A strong Saskatchewan economy needs the engagement of First Nations and Métis people if it is to grow even more,” Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter said.  “I am pleased that in a more challenging budget year, we have been able to stay on track by investing in education and employment opportunities for First Nations and Métis people.” SK News Release (First Nations) | SK News Release (ISSI) | SK News Release (Advanced Education)

Alberta working on First Nations education

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice announced at the recent Alberta-First Nations Education Summit in Edmonton that the province is working with First Nations leaders to develop a plan to address the achievement gap between Aboriginal students and non-Aboriginal students in the province. “First Nations students are Albertans too, which is why I believe that when it comes to education of First Nations children, the responsibility to get it right is shared by Alberta, First Nations parents and communities, and the Government of Canada,” said Prentice, adding that the province is working on ways to involve the federal government in new initiatives. Prentice also recently announced a new pilot project in partnership with Bow Valley College, NorQuest College, industry, and Aboriginal organizations that will result in training and support for up to 600 Aboriginal learners. Each college will host a new Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre that will deliver training related to the construction trade. The province has committed $1 M to the project, with $525,000 coming from the colleges, and $750,000 from industry and Aboriginal groups. Alberta News Release (Summit) | Edmonton Sun | Edmonton Journal | Alberta News Release (Pilot Project) | Global News