Indigenous Top Ten

June 17, 2015

Universities Canada Chair examines PSE’s role in reconciliation

In a recent op-ed published in the Ottawa Citizen, Universities Canada Chair and University of Manitoba President David Barnard outlines the role of Canada’s universities in working toward reconciliation. Barnard emphasizes the importance of creating opportunities for Indigenous students by working with K-12 educators on bridging programs; of educating all students on the history and legacy of residential schools; and of integrating Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and worldviews into curricula, programs, and services. Barnard also says that universities must fight against wrongs and untruths in discussions and dialogues that shape policy, as well as fight against social injustice and racism. Barnard added that Canada must act now to foster new relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Ottawa Citizen

HEQCO offers insights on teaching in northern, remote, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has released a new report sharing the perspectives of recent bachelor of education graduates who taught in northern, remote, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. The report emphasizes the importance of "understanding the unique social dynamics of northern communities," and suggests that new teachers involve themselves in the community. Graduates reported that their success was often affected by the legacy of residential schools and mistrust in the education system. They recommend establishing strong relationships with the parents and grandparents of students. Graduates also encouraged other teachers to be prepared to implement creative teaching and assessment methods to address gaps in student abilities.
HEQCO Summary | Full Report

NU to fund feasibility study for arctic university

Nunavut has announced that it will fund a feasibility study to explore the possible creation of an arctic university. A recent report recommended the creation of a university, independent of government and Inuit organizations, in Iqaluit. The proposed institution would be accessible to all but would primarily serve Inuit students, offering mandatory classes in traditional Inuit knowledge and language. The school would also grant Elders the same status and salary as full professors. The report suggested that the new university would initially offer courses in Inuit studies, fine arts, linguistics, and political science, as well as Indigenous governance, education, health, natural science, and law. Globe and Mail

Report calls for more training on Indigenous issues for ON teachers

A new report released last week by People for Education says that Ontario’s teachers need more training on Indigenous issues. According to the report, just 29% of elementary schools and 47% of secondary schools in the province offer teachers training on Indigenous issues, even though 92% of elementary schools and 96% of secondary schools have Indigenous students. People for Education Executive Director Annie Kidder noted that many teachers said that they are “not comfortable teaching Indigenous culture and issues.” Kidder emphasizes that teachers play a critical role in delivering information about Indigenous issues and called on the province to offer teachers more professional development in this area. CBC | Full Report

VIU and Kw’umut Lelum partner to sign up 20 children in care to Canada Learning Bond

Vancouver Island University has partnered with Nanaimo’s Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family services to provide 20 children in care with up to $2,000 each to put toward their postsecondary education. The funding will be provided through the Canada Learning Bond program. “This is a significant step forward in the creation of postsecondary learning opportunities for our member First Nations’ youth,” said Kw’umut Lelum Executive Director Bill Yoachim. “We are grateful to be working in collaboration with VIU in the creation of bright futures and bright future leaders.” VIU News Release

MB task force seeks to improve education outcomes of children in care

Manitoba has launched a new task force to help improve education outcomes for children in care. A recent report from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the University of Manitoba found that only 33% of children who had been in the care of Child and Family Services (CFS) graduated high school, compared to 89% for children who had never been in care. The task force will work with education experts, teachers, social service providers, and other parties to come up with immediate and long-term actions to improve outcomes. The authors of the report suggest that anti-poverty measures and more family supports may help the situation by preventing more children from going into care. 22% of First Nations children in MB end up in CFS at some point in their lives, and First Nations children comprise 90% of all children in care in the province. MB News Release | CBC | MCHP Report

Toronto school board considering “culturally appropriate” school for Indigenous students

The Toronto District School Board is considering a proposal to create a full K-12 First Nations school to make education more accessible to the estimated 7,000 Indigenous students living in the city. The school board would convert Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute into a “culturally appropriate” school that would “better serve the needs of the city’s growing Indigenous population.” Proponents of the project say that such a school would help combat the alienation felt by many Indigenous students through a curriculum that emphasizes Indigenous practices and skills. “First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students don’t experience education as theirs. School doesn’t reflect who you are,” said York University professor Susan Dion. While the curriculum would be “Aboriginal-themed,” the school would be open to all students. Toronto Star

BC’s I Count High School helps reach Indigenous youth with alternative education option

British Columbia’s I Count High School, which opened in Moricetown in 2012, continues to help students who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks complete their education. The school, which serves students in grades 8 through 12, focuses on academic goals as well as cultural, social, and personal growth. First Nations culture is one area of emphasis. The curriculum includes Indigenous languages, the harvesting and preparation of traditional foods, and songs and dances. Teacher Dale Cutler said that the school offers First Nations youth a sense of belonging. “It is not that they don’t instill that in the regular school system, it is just that there are so many students … that [they] get lost in the cracks,” he said. CTV News

Niagara College opens new Aboriginal student centre, signs CICan protocol

Niagara College has opened the new Aboriginal Student Resource Centre at its Niagara-on-the-Lake campus. The Centre will be run by the college’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Student Services team, and will offer space for cultural programming, Elder visits, workshops and events, and a library of Indigenous-themed resources. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and staff are welcomed by the Centre, which is designed to enhance relationships across the institution and with the community. Niagara’s Aboriginal Liaison and Recruitment Manager Donna Gerber noted that the space will also help recruit Aboriginal students and support them throughout their programs. At the opening event, Niagara President Dan Patterson signed Colleges and Institutes Canada's “Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes." Niagara College News | St Catharines Standard

FNUniv learns from past to prepare for future

As the First Nations University of Canada approaches its 40th anniversary in 2016, President Mark Dockstator and his colleagues are preparing for the institution to take on an “expanded role” in Canadian society. Dockstator recently told University Affairs that he foresees the institution acting as a “mediator” and source of academic research for parties wishing to work with Aboriginal groups. FNUniv has also launched a new marketing campaign with the goal of increasing enrolment, and is developing a non-credit executive training course for non-Indigenous business leaders. Dockstator pointed to previous issues at FNUniv as a learning experience, stating, “I think the increasing enrolments are reflective of a successful turnaround … The confidence in the institution has returned.” University Affairs