Indigenous Top Ten

April 22, 2015

Confederation, Trent, FNTI sign agreement to expand opportunities

Confederation College, Trent University, and the First Nations Technical Institute have signed a 5-year MOU to formalize and extend an existing partnership. The new collaboration will create pathways for Aboriginal learners within Indigenous Studies programs across the 3 institutions. According to a news release, the formal partnership is the only one of its kind in the province. The goals of the initiative include designing, developing, and implementing academic programming and related initiatives; improving capacity in the areas of program development and delivery; and increasing input in consultations and policy development. The pathways partnership will allow Aboriginal learners to more easily transition from FNTI or Confederation to Trent; additionally, learners at Trent will gain the opportunity to learn from instructors at the other institutions. Trent has also announced it will launch a new Bachelor of Education in Aboriginal Education program in fall 2016. Trent reports the Concurrent Education Program will be unique in North America, and will put Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives at the forefront of teacher training. Trent News (Agreement) | Trent News (BEd)

Program in SK helps youth transition to employment in city

Saskatchewan’s Carry the Kettle Nakota Nation has partnered with the Regina Work Preparation Centre and the North Central Family Association to develop an 8-week program to help youth transition to the city for employment. MORE—Moving On to Regina for Employment—assists young people with job and life skills, ranging from resume help and career planning to dealing with culture shock and racism. Participants also gain help with things such as housing and childcare, which can often be barriers for Aboriginal peoples moving to cities. University of Saskatchewan economist Eric Howe recently told the StarPhoenix that the provincial employment numbers for First Nations and Métis people have stagnated in recent years. Howe said the government needs to work to remove barriers and connect people with jobs. SK’s overall unemployment rate in March was 4.4%, the lowest in the country, but for Métis people it was 10% and for First Nations people it was almost 15%. Further, the number of individuals on social assistance is almost the same as it was 5 years ago. CBC | StarPhoenix

3 Indigenous languages in Canada part of global study

3 Indigenous languages currently spoken in Canada are included in a global study of how children learn language. Dene, East Cree, and Inuktitut are among the 10 languages being studied for the project, which is based out of the University of Zurich. Olga Lovick, an associate linguistics professor at First Nations University of Canada, is involved with the study and will be working with the Clearwater River Dene Nation in northern Saskatchewan. Community members will receive training and will record the speech of 2- and 3-year-olds learning Dene as their first language over the next year. The project will include input from Dene language experts, research and recording assistants, and participating families. Researchers hope to gain more insight into language learning and to identify ways to teach Indigenous languages more effectively to adults. Much of the early research on East Cree and Inuktitut has already been completed. CBC

NU explores ways to improve enrolment data, Education Act

Nunavut is reviewing the methods it uses to gather enrolment data and is exploring alternate options, said John MacDonald, the education department's Acting Deputy Minister. Currently, a snapshot of enrolment is taken on September 30, but critics point to traditional hunting and other activities as reasons why some students are not there in September. The territorial government announced teacher cuts based on enrolment in the recent budget, with one district to lose 12 positions. "We really aren't trying to take away resources from school or communities," said MacDonald. "It's about distributing them as equitably as we possibly can.” NU is also looking into its Education Act and has established a special committee of MLAs to gather input on possible amendments. The committee will travel to communities and will host televised public hearings before preparing a report and making recommendations. CBC | Nunatsiaq Online

School offers conversational Mi'kmaq to Cape Breton students

The Whycocomagh Education Centre (WEC) in Cape Breton is for the first time offering students a course in conversational Mi’kmaq. The school now provides core programming for 4 languages, including French and Gaelic. Instructor Miranda Gould said she is focusing on the spoken language first, as 90% of the students do not speak any Mi’kmaq. "It's very well received, the students seem quite excited and I think it's fostered a sense of pride and recognition of their own first language and also for others learning a new language,” said Gould. CBC

Six Nations receives review of federally managed schools

The Elected Council of the Six Nations of the Grand River recently received the results of a review of 6 federally managed schools in Ontario, 5 of which are located on Six Nations. The review, authored by the AANDC director of evaluation, performance measurement, and review, found a decline in funding and other resources, lower academic performance by students, and a low level of satisfaction with their employer among faculty and staff. Additionally, it was discovered that 2 past reviews had been skipped, resulting in a data gap that has made it difficult to prove the need for additional funding. Although the report didn’t make official recommendations, it presents 3 options for the future management of the schools including creating an autonomous education board or authority, creating a board of education that reports directly to the local school district as an oversight body, or forming a partnership between Six Nations council and the Confederacy to take over control of education from the federal government. Brantford Expositor | Two Row Times

Students push for more inclusion of Indigenous perspectives at McGill University

Some students are encouraging McGill University to do more to acknowledge local Indigenous history and culture. Indigenous peoples are not well represented across students, staff, and faculty, said McGill’s Aboriginal Outreach Administrator Kakwirano:ron Cook, who works to recruit Aboriginal students to the school. Cook said that McGill can work to make the institution more welcoming to Aboriginal students and faculty, and one way to do that is better recognition of the Iroquois lands on which McGill is located. The VP Student Affairs of McGill’s students’ society agreed that the university could do a lot more to include Indigenous perspectives on campus. McGill launched an Indigenous Studies minor last year within the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. APTN News

Yukon launches skills development projects

The Yukon government has embarked on 2 partnerships that will provide training and skills development opportunities for northerners. The territorial government has announced the first recipient of funding through the federal Canada Job Grant partnership, choosing Dakwakada Development Corporation (DDC), a First Nations-owned investment firm. DDC will train 40 current employees in areas such as project management, financial literacy, management, and board governance. Yukon has also signed an Intergovernmental Accord with Carcross/Tagish First Nation to contribute $2.7 M towards a community learning centre. Through the Accord, the 2 governments will work together on common priorities, including skills and training, and culture. Canada News Release | Yukon News Release

Sheridan students design school addition for remote community

A group of students from Sheridan College are working on a real-world project that they hope will improve education opportunities in a northern Ontario First Nation. After visiting Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation last summer, Michael Muller, a professor in Sheridan’s Architectural Technology program, recognized the need for dedicated space for a high school program in the community. Muller is working with Sheridan’s architecture club and other students to design and build “portable” classrooms that would be transported north and assembled on site. The students are working with the community on the design, which has to accommodate extreme weather conditions. If funding is secured the new space could be ready for students in fall 2016. Sheridan Sun   

Vancouver schools welcome Elders into the classroom

A CBC series exploring seniors and Elders recently looked at the place Elders hold in Vancouver’s classrooms. The article notes the difficulties some schools encounter when trying to gain funding for Elder programs; some educators have reported a lack of awareness or knowledge around the protocols for inviting Elders into the school. However, many teachers do their own fundraising and/or reach out to connections, and some schools provide dedicated funding for Elders or are involved in partnerships with local friendship centres. Vancouver teacher Alain Raoul said that he includes an Elder in classes in order to increase understanding of Indigenous cultures and the history of Canada’s relations with Indigenous peoples. "Empathy and compassion are sometimes the hardest to convey to students who are part of this history, but don't understand it or—in a worst case scenario—have stereotypes," he said. CBC