Indigenous Top Ten

June 3, 2015

TRC report summary suggests education key to reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has released the summary of its final report including 94 recommendations aimed at different levels of government, schools, societies, churches, and Aboriginal organizations. Recommendations include creating a National Centre and Council for Truth and Reconciliation, developing a joint strategy to address education and employment gaps, eliminating funding discrepancies between Aboriginal children educated on-reserve and those educated off-reserve, and drafting new Aboriginal education legislation with full participation by Aboriginal peoples that protects language and culture. “Education is the key to reconciliation,” said TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair, noting the recommendation that all children in Canadian schools should be taught the history and legacy of residential schools. CBC (1) | CBC (2) | TRC Summary

SMU releases task force report on Aboriginal education

Saint Mary’s University has released the President’s Task Force Report on Aboriginal Students, the result of a task force established last year to examine and improve the supports available to Aboriginal students and to help indigenize the academy. The report contains 17 recommendations, such as establishing a university Elder, including local Aboriginal peoples and communities in key ceremonies, and creating a university chair in Indigenous studies. Two suggestions in the report have already been implemented by SMU: funding has been approved to hire a full-time Aboriginal student advisor, and nominations have begun for the creation of an Aboriginal Advisory Council, which will guide SMU in the implementation of the other recommendations in the report. SMU News | Full Report

SSHRC announces new initiatives to support Aboriginal research

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has launched a set of new initiatives designed to provide broader support for research into Aboriginal issues. The initiatives include a statement of principles, a revised definition of Aboriginal research, and merit review guidelines, all of which will contribute to the development of researchers who are knowledgeable and considerate of Aboriginal perspectives. SSHRC launched the new initiatives at Carleton University, which is soon launching a new course, the “Ethics of Research with Indigenous Peoples.” The five-day program to be held this June is reportedly the first program of its kind dealing with the ethics of conducting Aboriginal research, and will be attended by researchers, representatives from government and non-profit organizations, and community members. Carleton News (SSHRC) | Carleton News (Ethics)

Students in northern AB gather for residential school education day

Elementary school students from five northern Alberta communities recently gathered for an education day about Canada’s residential schools. More than 400 students came together in Calling Lake, AB, for a day of storytelling, art, and music focused on the history of residential schools and their impact on individuals and communities. Last year, then-Minister of Aboriginal Relations Frank Oberle announced that residential school history would be added to the provincial curriculum. While the new curriculum is being developed, many educators have taken the initiative to develop lessons related to residential schools; the education day was designed to further enhance the lessons learned in the classroom and to recognize the closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Edmonton Journal

CICan awards recognize commitment to Indigenous education, employment

Colleges and Institutes Canada has awarded the first Indigenous Education Excellence Gold Award to Yukon College. The award recognizes the college’s commitment to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit initiatives; respect for intellectual and cultural traditions; increased understanding and reciprocity among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples; and efforts to build relationships with local communities. CICan highlighted the college’s President’s Advisory Council on First Nations Initiatives, which consists of the Education Directors from each Yukon First Nation. CICan also awarded the Outstanding Partner award to the Aboriginal Human Resource Council (AHRC) for its efforts to encourage Indigenous workplace inclusivity and in recognition of the Indigenous youth mentoring and leadership programs delivered through its charity, Kocihta. CICan’s Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes was recently signed by North West College, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), and Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Yukon College News | CICan News Release | SaskPolytech News

Northern Lakes and Métis Education Foundation establish award fund

Alberta’s Northern Lakes College has partnered with the Métis Education Foundation to create a $200,000 Special Purpose Fund that will provide scholarships and bursaries to Métis students at the college. Northern Lakes has experienced a steady increase of Métis learners over the last several years, with 279 students self-identified as Métis enrolled in 2013­–14. Chair of the Métis Education Foundation Audrey Poitras noted that only 10 years ago there were very few financial opportunities for Métis students in the province, but endowment funds now established at 14 PSE institutions in AB will result in increased enrolment and graduation rates. Northern Lakes News Release

UBC receives donations in support of Aboriginal learners

UBC is the recipient of two $1 M donations for its Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health. The gifts will support UBC’s efforts to recruit and retain Aboriginal learners in health professions such as medicine, dentistry, and nursing. One gift, from UBC Chancellor Lindsay Gordon and his wife Elizabeth, will largely be used to fund scholarships and bursaries for Aboriginal students; the second gift, from investment manager Rudy North and his family, will support summer science and mentoring programs for Aboriginal high school students as well as the creation of a new Aboriginal health certificate program. “I see a future where Aboriginal people are leaders in health care. To get there we need to ensure that they are encouraged to pursue the health sciences from an early age and are supported throughout their careers,” said Centre co-Director Nadine Caron. A recent blog post published by the Vancouver Sun looks at the ways UBC employs advanced networking and community outreach to attract Aboriginal students to health fields, forming relationships with Aboriginal youth through summer programming and mentorships. Last month, UBC reached its goal of graduating 50 Aboriginal MDs by 2020. UBC News | Vancouver Sun

ON provides $1 M to Lakehead for expanded remote presence initiative

Ontario is providing $1 M through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) for Lakehead University to expand remote instruction initiatives in the North. The funds will be used to establish immersive technology telepresence systems in Kenora and Sioux Lookout, enabling students in those communities to access real-time classroom instruction alongside students at Lakehead’s Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses. The technology allows programs to be offered to students in these communities even if the enrolment numbers are low. Lakehead is working with Confederation College, Contact North, and the Keewatin Patricia District School Board on this project and others designed to bring PSE to learners in northern ON. | ON News Release

Data show participation in extracurricular activities associated with high school completion

Statistics Canada has released new data from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey that show participation by off-reserve First Nations students in extracurricular activities, such as sports or arts programs, was associated with completing high school by age 18. For instance, off-reserve First Nations males aged 18 to 24 who participated in weekly sport activities had a 68% probability of finishing high school by age 18, compared with 55% among those who reported less-than-weekly participation. First Nations females in the same age range who participated in clubs or groups on a weekly basis had a 77% probability of completing high school by age 18, compared to 58% for those who did not. The study found other factors that are associated with high school completion, including academic performance, having a mother with a high school diploma, living with at least one family member, having a sibling who had dropped out of school, and having parents or grandparents who attended a residential school. StatsCan Daily | Full Study

SK celebrates Aboriginal graduates

Aboriginal graduates from both high school and PSE were celebrated across Saskatchewan last month. uSask held a graduation powwow last week to recognize the more than 360 Aboriginal students graduating from the university and the more than 300 grade 12 graduates. Over 1,700 students from across the province were in attendance to celebrate their peers. uSask also marked the 100 year anniversary of its first Aboriginal female graduate, Annie Maude (Nan) McKay. uSask’s College of Nursing is celebrating the first graduates to complete the BSc in Nursing program that was delivered in northern communities using remote presence technology. Global News reports that the number of Aboriginal graduates from uSask has increased every year for the last five years. A Saskatoon high school, Mount Royal Collegiate, hosted its 15th annual Powwow and Festival of Nations, welcoming more than 1,500 students from across the city. Global News | uSask News (McKay) | uSask News (Nursing) | CBC (uSask) | CBC (Mount Royal)