Indigenous Top Ten

July 1, 2015

Canadian universities adopt new Indigenous education principles

Canada’s universities have adopted a new set of principles that formalize their shared commitment to enhancing educational opportunities for Indigenous students. The new Principles on Indigenous Education, developed by Universities Canada in partnership with all 97 member universities, will guide the institutions as they work to increase access for, and success rates of, Indigenous students. The Principles encourage greater dialogue and collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and between universities and Indigenous communities. Further, the Principles support enhanced indigenization of university curriculum and more Indigenous education leadership within institutions. In addition, university leaders have committed to five actions to support the Principles, such as communicating with other stakeholders and developing public-private partnerships to create opportunities for Indigenous students. News Release | Principles | Globe and Mail

TWU launches institute focused on Indigenous issues in 3 countries

BC’s Trinity Western University has launched the Institute of Indigenous Issues and Perspectives (IIIP), designed to “build bridges of conversation” with other PSE institutions and Indigenous communities. The Institute will focus on Indigenous issues in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, exploring reconciliation from a “Christian and biblical perspective.” Educators and researchers working with IIIP will consider a broad range of topics in relation to Indigenous perspectives and concerns—politics, business, education, health, nursing, and social justice issues. “We felt that, as a faith-based university, TWU had something unique to contribute to the conversation,” said IIIP Director Matthew Etherington. TWU News Release | IIIP Website

Nunavik school pilot project has “positive impact”

Education officials in Nunavik are examining the results of a pilot project held at four community schools this year that included three weeks of on-the-land cultural programming and a shorter school year. Students attended an extra 45 minutes of class time each week in order to shorten the school year by two weeks and leave time for land-based learning. Officials are pleased with the outcomes so far and say that the program was well received in the participating communities, with parents and local Elders helping with the cultural activities. A steering committee overseeing the project identified a few areas that need more work before the project is expanded, such as better organization of land-based outings and planning of alternate activities if poor weather forces the cancellation of outdoor cultural activities. The pilot will continue next year in the same four communities before potentially expanding to other communities across Nunavik. Nunatsiaq Online

ON commits $97 M over three years for FNMI education

Ontario has announced $97 M over the next three years to support access to postsecondary education and training opportunities for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit learners. $5 M of the funds will be used to support the nine Aboriginal-owned learning institutions located in the province. As well, the Aboriginal Student Bursary Fund and Indspire will each receive $1.5 M next year to support Indigenous students in financial need. ON also released an update on its Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Policy Framework, highlighting a series of goals and early success stories. The Framework was implemented in 2011 in order to provide direction for improvements to Aboriginal education policies and practices. ON News Release | Framework Update

Federal report highlights educational challenges facing Aboriginal peoples living on reserves

A new report from the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board highlights a growing “prosperity gap” between Indigenous people and other Canadians. The study found that college completion rates for First Nations people living on reserves dropped from 20.8% to 20.4% between 2006 and 2011, while the rates for off-reserve First Nations people rose from 27.9% to 28.3% and those for non-Aboriginal people rose from 28.2% to 29.1%. At the university level, completion rates for off-reserve First Nations people held at 5.7% over the same period; for those off-reserve, completion rates rose from 9.8% to 11.1%. University completion rates for non-Aboriginal students rose over this period from 23% to 25.5%. National Post | CBC | Vancouver Sun

Inuit from Nunavik may soon have dedicated PSE institution

Nunavik’s Kativik School Board (KSB) is once again making plans for the creation of a postsecondary institution designed specifically for Nunavik high school graduates. KSB is looking to hire an education consultant to help develop an institution modelled on the successful Nunavut Sivuniksavut, located in Ottawa, that provides Inuit students from Nunavut with an introduction to college-level studies. Nunavik Sivuniksavut would likely be affiliated—and initially located within—Montreal's John Abbott College, and would offer programming specific to Nunavik and its inhabitants. KSB had first explored the creation of such an institution more than five years ago, sending several Nunavik students to Ottawa’s Nunavut Sivuniksavut for a successful pilot year. KSB now hopes that the Nunavik-specific program could be operating by August 2016. Nunatsiaq Online  

Students create music video for Seven Grandfather Teachings

A group of grade 7 and 8 students at the First Nations School of Toronto have created a music video based on the Seven Grandfather Teachings. The students worked with representatives from Right to Play Canada, a non-profit organization that uses play-based activities to engage children in learning. The students created the beat, wrote the lyrics, and recorded the video, which features students in various locations throughout the school and showcases student artwork, drumming, and dancing. YouTube

TD donates more than $2.5 M for Aboriginal literacy camps

TD Bank Group has made two donations in support of Frontier College’s Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps program: $2.5 M will go towards expanding the literacy camps to 110 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities across Canada, and $100,000 will be used to provide educational tablets through One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) to summer camp participants. The tablets will then permanently remain at community schools for continued future use. 11 Aboriginal communities in five provinces and territories will join the OLPC Canada network thanks to the gift from TD. “I'm passionate about literacy and I've advocated for it to become a national priority, with greater investment in making sure our youth today and future generations have the skills they need to keep Canada prosperous,” said Frank McKenna, TD Deputy Chair. TD News Release | OLPC News Release

Keyano receives $1.5 M from feds for heavy equipment training

Canada has committed $1.5 M through Western Economic Diversification to support Keyano College’s delivery of Heavy Equipment Operator training to Aboriginal learners in the area. The funding, combined with funds from industry-partner Syncrude, will go towards the purchase of four mobile simulators and other equipment, allowing Keyano to train students in remote and rural locations. It is anticipated that the program will train close to 150 Aboriginal learners in the next four years. “The mobile simulators offer an exciting opportunity to diversify Keyano College programming while meeting the needs of our region's Aboriginal and rural communities. This federal funding is an important investment in our students and the sustainability of postsecondary education in [the region],” said Keyano President Kevin F Nagel. Canada News Release

BC schools adding Indigenous content

BC has announced it will add mandatory Indigenous content to provincial curriculum. Teachers will have flexibility to teach the new content across multiple subjects and in grade-appropriate ways. BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender noted, "you can't have reconciliation unless you understand what the truth behind it is." The University of Victoria’s Legacy Art Galleries has recently developed a new web resource for grade 4 educators about Coast Salish art and culture. Perpetual Salish: Coast Salish Art in the Classroom, builds on an earlier pilot project by providing guidance on the inclusion of Coast Salish history in curriculum. Postsecondary institutions in the province are also taking steps to include more Indigenous content. UBC’s Sauder School of Business and UBC Okanagan’s School of Nursing are both introducing Indigenous content into curriculum. Sauder has recently hired Adjunct Professor Amie Wolf, who will work towards developing First Nations programming as part of a larger effort in the business school to focus on values, ethics, and social responsibility. Wolf and other Sauder officials consider Indigenous awareness to be crucial to the modern business students’ development. Likewise at UBCO, new curriculum is being revealed this week that teaches nursing students how to deliver culturally respectful treatment to First Nations patients. Both of these initiatives are in alignment with recommendations from the recent report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). CBC (BC) | Daily Brew | UVic News Release | Perpetual Salish Website | Vancouver Sun | CBC (UBCO)