Indigenous Top Ten

August 12, 2015

MRU launches strategic indigenization plan

Mount Royal University has drafted an Aboriginal Strategic Plan as part of its effort to indigenize the university. The plan includes several key goals: creating culturally respectful research, building bridges with Indigenous education stakeholders, assessing the available supports at MRU, and developing respectful curriculum and pedagogy. MRU has experienced a steady increase in the number of self-identified Indigenous students enrolling in programs and has a goal of increasing the percentage of Indigenous students from its current 4.4% to 7% by 2024–25. The university consulted with students and faculty to create the Aboriginal plan, which builds on indigenization work already underway at MRU. Metro News

uRegina reveals new Indigenous names for buildings

The University of Regina has announced new names for new and existing residence buildings that contribute to the institution’s efforts to indigenize the campus. The new 606-bed residence and daycare facility will be called Kisik Tower—meaning sky in the Saulteaux language—because it’s the tallest building on campus. The existing North Residence building will be known as Paskwaw Tower, the Cree word for prairie, and the South Residence building will now be called Wakpa Tower—the Dakota word for river. The names were chosen after a consultation process that invited students, staff, and faculty to offer suggestions. uRegina officials hope that the new names will help introduce non-Indigenous and international students to Aboriginal languages and concepts. Leader-Post

Study finds benefits of having Indigenous youth participate in research projects

A new study suggests that involving Indigenous youth as co-researchers can have benefits for researchers, communities, and the youth themselves, particularly when it comes to issues such as health promotion. For the study, University of Alberta researchers recruited Indigenous teens as co-researchers and had them contribute to research design, data gathering, and analysis. Throughout the project, the youth created culturally appropriate strategies, built rapport with interviewees, and acted as mentors to younger Indigenous youth. According to the authors, “this investigation supports the powerful potential of student co-researchers to meaningfully contribute to research processes and to build knowledge that is relevant and credible both within and outside of their communities.” News Release | Full Study

Dechinta introduces new Indigenous guardian program

A new program at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning will help train young First Nations leaders in the protection and management of lands and resources. The Indigenous Boreal Guardian Program will enhance the ability of First Nations communities to advocate for land-management approaches that value Indigenous knowledge. The program, modelled on similar successful programs in Canada and Australia, combines on-the-land activities with in-class and online learning. “The program will teach students what they need to know to work with outside governments and industry on equal terms, but they will learn how to do this in a way that allows their communities to reconnect new generations with the land and inspire them to assert themselves as the rightful keepers of ancestral lands,” said Dechinta Dean Erin Freeland-Ballantyne. Dechinta | CTV | Northern Journal

Maskwacis college giving out 30,000 free books to encourage literacy

As part of a continued effort to increase literacy levels in the community, Maskwacis Cultural College conducted a book giveaway over the summer. Thanks to donations from local companies and individuals, Maskwacis gathered more than 30,000 books; the books are available for free to people from the surrounding areas. The idea is for people to read the books and then pass them along to others, encouraging literacy among children and adults. Maskwacis does not have a public library in the community, so children do not have the same access to books in the summer that they do during the school year. Last year, Maskwacis gave out more than 17,000 books to people from 13 communities. Any that are left over this year will be distributed to local schools. Edmonton Journal

Trent and uSudbury partner on new urban Aboriginal courses

Trent University and the University of Sudbury have partnered to develop two new online courses that focus on Aboriginal peoples and urban issues. The courses are reportedly the first of their kind in Canada and will also be accessible online both to students from other PSE institutions and to those who may not have traditional access to PSE. The course content is drawn from two major studies on the urban Aboriginal experience: the Toronto Aboriginal Research Project (TARP), the largest study ever done on Aboriginal people in the city of Toronto; and the Urban Aboriginal Task Force (UATF), which examined Aboriginal issues in five Ontario cities. The courses will be split into modules to allow flexible delivery. Trent and uSudbury will alternate delivery of the courses, with Trent offering the first year. Trent | | Northern Life

Queen’s introducing mandatory Aboriginal education course for education students

Starting in 2016, all Bachelor of Education students at Queen’s University will take a mandatory course on Aboriginal education, history, and culture. Educators say the course will help future teachers teach Aboriginal topics and create a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for their Indigenous students. “If we have teachers in elementary and secondary schools who don’t have enough awareness of Indigenous issues, Indigenous intellectual tradition, and culture, then they’re not going to be able to appropriately enact [Aboriginal education] strategies,” said Lindsay Morcom, Coordinator of the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) at Queen’s. Lakehead University and the University of Winnipeg are also working on plans to make courses on Indigenous issues mandatory for all students. Queen’s Journal

Summer programs connect Indigenous youth to traditional languages

Several summer programs for Indigenous youth are focusing on language revitalization. In Alberta, youth are learning the Blackfoot language through rap music. Elder Sandra Manyfeathers and University of Calgary linguistics professor Darin Flynn designed the camp in partnership with The Rap Camp as a way to connect youth to language through a medium that they like and can relate to. The camp has also connected the youth participants to other local Elders who have contributed to the project. In New Brunswick, a month-long course teaches local Mi'kmaq youth their traditional language. Fort Folly First Nation has held the language course every summer for 15 years, allowing students to build their vocabularies over time. Youth also learn about their cultures and traditions during the program through use of the language. CBC (Blackfoot) | CBC (Mi’kmaq)

FNUniv renovating and repurposing campus spaces

The First Nations University of Canada will be under renovation in the near future as it expands into unused space within the building and repurposes existing spaces. The institution plans to move its Plain Red Art Gallery into the library on an interim basis, and is designing a large common room to be used for teaching and for university and community events. Other offices will move up to the fourth floor, creating more classroom space on the lower floors for in-demand programs such as those offered by the Indian Fine Arts department. FNUniv gathered input from the students, staff, and faculty over the last six months in order to determine priorities. The first stages of the work are expected to be complete by the time students return in September. Leader-Post | FNUniv

KPU to waive tuition for former youth-in-care

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has created a tuition-waiver program for former youth-in-care, joining numerous other PSE institutions in British Columbia and across Canada that offer similar programs. KPU will run the program this year as a pilot, offering funding for up to five students who are in good academic standing, exhibit financial need, and are nearing the end of their program. Students will also be paired with a dedicated academic advisor, and may be eligible for additional funding for textbooks and/or emergency situations. KPU has modelled its program on others that have been successfully established in the province, such as the one at Vancouver Island University. PSE institutions in Manitoba have introduced similar programs, and in Ontario, the province has partnered with individual institutions to provide tuition funding for former Crown wards. Vancouver Sun