Indigenous Top Ten

May 6, 2015

Federal budget’s funding for First Nations education falls short, say critics

Canada recently released its new federal budget, committing $200 M over five years to improve First Nations education; $12 M over three years to Indspire to provide postsecondary scholarships and bursaries for Indigenous students; and $248.5 M over five years in Aboriginal labour market programming. National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde, former Prime Minister Paul Martin, and AVP of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg Wab Kinew have all criticized the budget for not doing more to close the funding gaps in First Nations education. Rebecca Chartrand, Aboriginal Education Consultant with Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks School Division, noted that the promised $200 M for education falls far short of the $1.9 B that was pledged as part of the controversial First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNCFNEA) which was paused by the federal government after chiefs refused to back it. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said that the funding is still available, but that the federal government is now working to secure individual agreements on First Nations education. Budget 2015 | AFN News | APTN (Bellegarde) | APTN (Valcourt) | Globe and Mail | CBC (Martin) | CBC (Chartrand) | Indspire News | Winnipeg Free Press

Wikwemikong Board of Education launches new website

The Wikwemikong Board of Education (WBE) has launched a new website that provides information for current students, parents, postsecondary students, and the general community. Students applying for PSE funding can find forms and information on the site and can submit applications electronically. Homework and events at the three Wikwemikong schools are also available on the site, along with resources for parents helping their children with homework. WBE’s collection of Anishinaabemowin educational tools is available on the site and can be purchased online. The site is designed to be user-friendly and accessible, and was influenced by community and student consultations. Artwork and photographs displayed on the site are from local Wikwemikong artists. Wikwemikong’s Heritage Organization recently launched a new Anishinaabe language app to aid language revitalization. Manitoulin Expositor | Website

SFU receives gift in support of Aboriginal entrepreneurship

Simon Fraser University has received $1.3 M from RBC to fund two initiatives that will help prepare Aboriginal students to become leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation. $100,000 of the gift will establish the RBC First Peoples Enterprise Accelerator, which will support early-stage businesses and social ventures. The accelerator will be facilitated by the Beedie School of Business's RADIUS social innovation lab. The gift will also help establish the RBC Award in Aboriginal Business and Leadership, which will provide $30,000 in scholarships each year to encourage Aboriginal students to pursue careers as entrepreneurs. SFU News Release

Nunavut Inuit settlement with feds to provide $225 M

The federal government has ended a nine-year legal dispute with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) with an out-of-court settlement of $225.5 M. The lawsuit originated when a 2005 report suggested that the failure to staff government jobs with Inuit was caused by the ongoing underfunding of Inuit education. When the federal government did not implement the report’s recommendations, NTI filed a $1 B lawsuit. NTI President Cathy Towtongie announced that $175 M of the funds will go towards education and employment training for Inuit. The remaining $80.5 M will be invested for future opportunities. In addition, the federal government will provide an extra $50 M over the next eight years for training initiatives. To manage the training funds, NTI and the Nunavut government will partner to create the Nunavut Inuit Training Corporation and an expert advisory panel. Both the federal and territorial governments will also create central Inuit employment and training offices to coordinate initiatives. CBC | Nunatsiaq Online | CTV

MB budget recognizes northern and Indigenous students

Manitoba released its 2015 budget on Thursday, with investments designed to benefit northern and Indigenous students. The budget allocates $4.5 M to the development of a new PSE strategy that will reportedly address matters including improving Aboriginal enrolment. The budget also increases Aboriginal Academic Achievement Grants and offers additional funding for adult learning centres in the province, as well as increasing access to work experience and apprenticeship credits in northern high schools. In addition, the budget makes student loans interest-free and removes car ownership as a barrier to loan funding. University operating grants will see a 2.5% increase, and colleges' operating grants will receive a 2% increase. Tuition fee increases will remain capped at the rate of economic growth. MB News Release | Winnipeg Free Press (1) | Winnipeg Free Press (2) | CBC | Globe and Mail

NBCC opens news Aboriginal student space at Saint John campus

New Brunswick Community College recently opened a new Aboriginal student space at its Saint John campus. The centre is called the Menahqesk Centre, meaning “the place of the sea taking the land” in Wolastoqey. During the opening ceremony, a mural by Robin Paul of Oromocto First Nation was unveiled. The new Centre provides space for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students to connect, study, relax, and learn more about Aboriginal culture and history. The Aboriginal student lounge at NBCC’s Woodstock campus was also recently renovated. Both projects received funding from the provincial government. NBCC has been experiencing steady increases in the number of self-identified Aboriginal students enrolling in its programs, and recently demonstrated its commitment to Indigenous learning by signing the national Indigenous Education Protocol developed by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). NBCC News (Centre) | NBCC News (Protocol)

College of the Rockies opens dedicated space for Aboriginal learners

The College of the Rockies has opened the Ktunaxa Classroom, a space dedicated to training and support for Aboriginal learners. The classroom will serve as a gathering place for students and staff and will host training programs such as the Ktunaxa Workplace Essential Skills and the Bladerunners employment training programs. Students will also be able to access cultural activities, workshops, drop-in sessions, and coaching and mentoring sessions. “The Ktunaxa Nation and the College of the Rockies have a proud history of collaboration within Ktunaxa territory,” said Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese. “This shared space further solidifies this strong relationship and gives the Ktunaxa Nation and all Aboriginal learners a space to not only learn, but teach others as well.” COTR News Release

Eight First Nations to receive federal funds for school infrastructure projects

The federal government has announced that eight First Nations will receive school infrastructure funding from the $500 M Education Infrastructure Fund announced as part of the 2014 budget. The communities chosen—Long Point in Quebec; Little Red River Cree Nation in Alberta; Prophet River, Eske'etemc, and Gwa'sala-Nakawaxda'xw in British Columbia; Whitecap Dakota and Flying Dust in Saskatchewan; and Miawpukek in Newfoundland and Labrador—will receive funds for 11 projects, including five new schools and six renovations. The costs and completion dates will be determined once the projects go to tender. The announcement was made at Whitecap Dakota First Nation, which will use the funds to renovate the K–grade 4 school on reserve and to contribute to a new grade 5–8 school being built off-reserve in partnership with the province and a local school division. The federal government also recently announced funding for four school infrastructure projects in ManitobaCanada News Release | StarPhoenix (1) | StarPhoenix (2) | Winnipeg Free Press

More Yukon schools move towards blended learning

Two more schools in Yukon will begin incorporating blended learning models into the classroom this year, following successful implementation at several other Yukon schools in the last two years. Ross River School and the Del Van Gorder School will adopt a mix of online and in-class instruction using technology and resources such as, allowing customizable instruction and personalized support. “This mix of technology and teacher instruction is an interactive and engaging approach to developing digital literacy and communication skills that will help prepare students for today’s workforce … These expanded educational opportunities all tie in with our recently announced plans to improve outcomes for Yukon students,” said Minister of Education Doug Graham. YK News Release

BC and NB fund industry-specific training programs

British Columbia has announced funding for the Pathways to Success program for six northwestern First Nations. The province is providing $600,000 and industry partners are providing $600,000 in matching funds. Members of the Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Lax Kw'alaams, Gitxaala, Metlakatla, and Gitga'at First Nations will gain access to the Pathways program, which provides employment readiness and job development training. Learners receive instruction on essential skills such as literacy and numeracy as well as industry-specific training. Participants are connected to job opportunities and receive support throughout the recruitment process and the early stages of employment. The program will be delivered by the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) in both Terrace and Prince Rupert. New Brunswick recently funded two training programs to prepare individuals for employment in the mining sector. The Underground Mining and Mill Operator training programs were delivered to learners in partnership with the Trevali Mining Corporation, which is employing graduates at its Caribou mine. New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) delivered the training programs. BC News Release | NB News Release