Indigenous Top Ten

July 29, 2015

New McMaster program encourages Indigenous students to pursue grad studies

McMaster University has launched a new summer program designed to encourage Indigenous students to consider graduate studies. The Indigenous Undergraduate Summer Research Scholars (IUSRS) program is a collaboration between McMaster’s Indigenous Studies Program and School of Graduate Studies. The program runs for six weeks, with students participating in workshops and research activities that allow them to see what life as a grad student is like. Students have been paired with faculty supervisors and peer mentors, and have access to Elders-in-residence during the program. Students will also participate in activities within the local communities—both Hamilton and Six Nations of the Grand River. Acting VP Research Allison Sekuler said she proposed the program not only to provide a “transformational experience” for Indigenous students, but also to “broaden the understanding of Indigenous research within the Academy.” McMaster | Globe and Mail | Program Info | Radio Canada (1) | CBC (2) | Hamilton Spectator 


NT teachers participate in land-based learning

A new pilot program launched this month in the Northwest Territories is working towards creating a more supportive learning environment in K–12 classrooms by providing educators with a political, cultural, and historical overview of the North. The program was co-organized by NT’s Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) and the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. Participants spend a week on the land with Elders and instructors and complete assignments and online modules in order to receive a Master’s-level credential for the course. The program is largely designed for southern and non-Indigenous teachers, but organizers hope that all teachers in NT will eventually take the course and/or others like it. “Having a stronger relationship between teachers and the school and communities—and the resources that are in our communities already—can only make education stronger,” said Dechinta Dean of Programs Erin Freeland-Ballantyne. Northern Journal

uWinnipeg looks to transform underserviced neighbourhood with education hub

The University of Winnipeg has undertaken a $12.8 M project to transform Winnipeg’s Selkirk Avenue into a hub for creativity and education. The location is currently an underserviced portion of the city that university community members hope to turn into a “beacon of hope.” The project will be funded primarily by the Manitoba government. It will be designed to provide classroom learning by day and will host the Winnipeg branch of Pathways to Education, a tutoring and mentorship program for secondary students. It will also offer daycare, literacy classes, a community café, and 30 units of affordable housing. Globe and Mail

NT, NU, and YK partner on literacy and skills initiative

The Nunavut Literacy Council has partnered with the Northwest Territories Literacy Council and the Yukon Literacy Coalition to create the Northern Alliance for Literacy and Essential Skills (NALES). NALES will work to integrate literacy and essential skills training into new and existing workplace training programs. It will work directly with stakeholders in the natural resources, tourism, and service industries in order to ensure that Aboriginal youth and adults gain access to training opportunities. The federal government has provided $3.1 M for the initiative. Canada

New MOU between uSask and Onion Lake to benefit students

The colleges of nursing and education at the University of Saskatchewan have signed an MOU with the Onion Lake Cree Nation that will allow learners to take their first year of university in Onion Lake. The MOU extends the existing Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) by allowing students to take the first year of an education or nursing degree, or a year of prerequisites for other health science programs, while remaining in their home community. Nursing Dean Lorna Butler noted that Onion Lake nursing and education students will benefit from learning alongside one another during their first year. uSask

VIU launches health promotion program with focus on Aboriginal communities

Vancouver Island University has created the Community Health Promotion for Aboriginal Communities certificate program, in collaboration with the Inter Tribal Health Authority (ITHA). The new program, being launched at VIU’s Parksville/Qualicum Centre, is reportedly the first of its kind in BC. Students will gain introductory skills in community health education, health promotion, injury prevention, and community development within Aboriginal communities; students will also complete a practice-based experience through ITHA or the First Nations Health Authority. The provincial government provided almost $100,000 for the development and first delivery of the program, which will be offered in a blended format with both online and weekend courses. VIU

Creative arts provide forum for Indigenous youth, educators

Indigenous students and educators are using visual and creative arts in a variety of ways to tell their stories. At Brandon University, a photovoice project has allowed young Aboriginal role models to explore current community issues through photography; organizers plan to use the project to start discussions and help develop policy. Similarly, the Nanivara project in Nunavut is helping Aboriginal youth connect with local Elders and record their stories. Nanivara is run by UBC and teaches the youth research, interview, and digital recording techniques. St Thomas First Nation artist Kevin Lamure recently participated alongside other Indigenous artists in the Planet IndigenUS arts festival in Toronto, held during the Pan Am Games. Lamure, who is also Manager of the First Nations Centre at Fanshawe College, created a sculpture that critiques environmental exploitation. A group of Aboriginal students in Sudbury recently took part in an art-based research project organized by a Queen’s University Master’s of Education student. The students explored their reasons for leaving high school before graduation through paintings, which are now displayed at Queen’s. And in Ottawa, Inuit youth are taking part in weekly carving sessions at the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre’s youth facility. The youth are able to meet peers and learn valuable skills that connect them with their heritage. Thompson Citizen | Nunatsiaq Online (Nanivara) | St Thomas Times Journal | Queen’s | Nunatsiaq Online (carving)


Questioning the need for a university in the North

In response to the recently renewed push for a university in Canada’s Arctic, Heather Exner-Pirot, Strategist for Outreach and Indigenous Engagement at the University of Saskatchewan, questions whether a stand-alone university would be the best way to increase education levels in the North. In a recent post for Eye on the Arctic, Exner-Pirot suggests that a northern university would likely be funded at the expense of other social programs, and that due to the geographic realities of the territories it would not necessarily be more accessible or affordable for northerners. She concludes that a better return on investment in the short- to mid-term would be to improve accessibility to existing programs outside of the North while expanding the degree programs available through northern colleges. Exner-Pirot also notes that improving high school graduation rates among First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth is an important precondition to university-level educational attainment. Alaska Dispatch News

Membertou First Nation creates training program to fill need for skilled labour

A new partnership between the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office and the Membertou First Nation is providing community members with the opportunity to gain skills in the construction industry. The First Nation had identified a number of upcoming infrastructure projects and wanted to fill the need for skilled labour from within the community. The two organizations also noted that there was a lack of specialized training available in the area. Participants in the 26-week on-the-job training program will learn the basics of concrete finishing. Upon completing the program, half of the trainees will do sidewalk and curb work, reporting to the Membertou Public Works Department; the other half will do building foundation work, reporting to the Membertou Housing Department. Cape Breton Post

Feds announce recipients of Post-Secondary Partnerships funding

The federal government has announced the recipients of 2015­­–16 funding through the Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP). 73 projects at various institutions have been selected to receive funding; PSPP provides funds for institutions to design and deliver courses and programs tailored for First Nations and Inuit students. The government has committed $14.76 M for the chosen projects, which include a wide range of topics from big data analysis to education to nursing. Some institutions will receive funding for multiple projects, such as Six Nations Polytechnic, which is receiving $1.4 M in total. Other recipients include First Nations Technical Institute, which will receive $74,250 for a community diabetes support program; Nunavut Arctic College, which will receive $750,000 for an early childhood education program; and Lethbridge College, which will receive $380,000 for its new community health promotion program. Canada (Six Nations) | Canada (FNTI) | Arctic College | Full list of projects