Indigenous Top Ten

September 23, 2015

Canadian education system ranks well, but fails Aboriginal students

Canada has one of the best education systems in the world, says a new report, but the benefits of this system are not being fully experienced by Aboriginal students. The report, by Academica Forum contributor Andrew Parkin, found that Canada was one of only three countries in the world to place in the top ten for performance, equity, and efficiency in education. However, the report also found a widening gap between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. Though educational achievement is increasing for both groups, Aboriginal students have progressed at a much slower pace. In 1996, 12 percentage points separated Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians aged 25 to 54 with a university degree. By 2011, the gap had increased to 17 percentage points. Globe and Mail | Full Report

MB partners on development of Aboriginal language strategy

Manitoba has announced a new partnership with educational leaders in the province to promote and protect Aboriginal languages. The Manitoba Aboriginal Languages Strategy is designed to respond to recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is part of MB’s plan to improve Indigenous education. The new strategy was developed with guidance from Elder representatives from all seven recognized Indigenous language groups in MB. The goals of the strategy include developing a system for sharing resources and expertise, creating a partnership agreement to keep Aboriginal languages alive, establishing an Indigenous research group focusing on Aboriginal languages, developing a communication strategy to promote Aboriginal languages, and promoting and developing land-based teacher training with the purpose of producing more fluent speakers/teachers. MB

uSask’s northern governance centre announces new program, funding

The University of Saskatchewan’s International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD) and The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) have co-launched a joint international master’s degree in Governance and Entrepreneurship in Northern and Indigenous areas (GENI). The program, reportedly the first of its kind, is funded in part by a donation of $775 K from Cameco Corporation. Part of those funds will be allocated for scholarships and travel for students in the new GENI program as well as students in the existing Master of Northern Governance and Development (MNGD) program. Both programs include an international component, with students travelling to Norway to gain insight into challenges and opportunities in other northern regions. uSask

New course and resources on Gwich'in history in NT

Efforts to preserve Gwich'in knowledge and history are underway in the Northwest Territories. High school students in the Beaufort-Delta region are learning about Gwich'in culture and history, thanks to a new course developed by local educators. The elective course uses classroom learning combined with on-the-land activities to teach students about land claims, geographical settlement patterns, traditional family structures, and stories of respected elders. It is taught in English, but is designed to complement Gwich'in language classes taught throughout the region. The Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute has developed two new resources that may benefit educators and students: a series of topographical maps of NT and Yukon featuring traditional Gwich'in place names and an interactive online atlas. The project, which included researchers from Carleton University, first launched in 1992. More than 70 Elders, hunters, and traditional land users contributed to the project. CBC (Course) | CBC (Maps) | Atlas Website

VIU named as home to new Fulbright research chair in Aboriginal studies

Fulbright Canada has named Vancouver Island University as the home to a new Visiting Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies, which will focus on research related to reconciliation and Aboriginal education. The Chair will also work to engage VIU students in the research process and to build relationships with the local community. “For many years, VIU has recognized the importance of working with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit [peoples] in our region to support Aboriginal education. We respect different ways of knowing and have established strong and respectful relationships across many communities. We thank Fulbright Canada for recognizing VIU’s strengths and providing the university with support that will allow us to enhance our work in this important area that is so essential to our nation’s future,” said VIU President Ralph Nilson. VIU

Universities Canada and CICan release election priorities, call for improvements to Indigenous education

Universities Canada has released a series of policy briefs outlining its position on issues relevant to the upcoming federal election, including Indigenous education. The organization advocates for “substantial, sustained growth” of student supports and financial aid for Indigenous students, and for new investments in programming that serves Indigenous students and communities. Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) has also released a statement outlining the organization’s priorities for the upcoming election. According to CICan, the priorities—including support for reconciliation efforts by improving Aboriginal access to PSE—are connected to “simple and straightforward recommendations for Canada’s leaders that would contribute to the country’s long-term prosperity.” Both organizations recently launched sets of principles outlining their respective commitments to improving Indigenous education. Universities Canada | CICan

BC announces $5.7 M for Aboriginal PSE

British Columbia recently announced an investment of $3.7 M for Aboriginal Service Plans at 11 public postsecondary institutions and also announced $2 M for awards to encourage more Aboriginal students to enrol in master’s and doctoral degrees. Aboriginal Service Plans are partnerships between PSE institutions and Aboriginal communities, institutes, and organizations; programs funded through these plans include Elders-in-residence, cultural learning, and program delivery in Aboriginal communities. Additionally, the province has allocated $2 M for awards for Aboriginal graduate students. The awards of up to $5 K each will be granted through the Irving K Barber BC Scholarship Society. “These awards provide an incentive to Aboriginal students to take their education to next level, which will ultimately help to build stronger communities and new opportunities for Aboriginal people,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. BC (Service Plans) | Plan Guidelines | BC (Awards) | Prince George Citizen

Canadore launches new employment program for Aboriginal youth

Canadore College has launched an employment readiness program for Aboriginal youth aged 17–29. The program was developed in partnership with the Nipissing Innovation Fund and is free to participants. The program will run from September to December and will include workshops taught by industry professionals on workplace expectations, customer service, portfolio development, health and safety protocols, financial literacy, and more. The program combines cultural concepts with workforce principles to help program participants boost their confidence and find employment. Canadore

NCTR coordinator helps educators promote reconciliation

Charlene Bearhead, Education Coordinator for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), recently spoke with CBC about her role in helping to bring educators from “apology to action.” Part of Bearhead’s role is to make sure that educators are able to access the information they need from the NCTR’s archives; additionally, she works to build networks and connect people developing educational resources. Bearhead added that many efforts are being made to include the history of residential schools in curriculum at the provincial, regional, and local levels. An example is the interactive eBook developed by the BC Teachers’ Federation that helps educators promote reconciliation. “The TRC painted a very clear picture,” she said. “We have a responsibility as educators, as social workers, as child welfare workers, as corrections workers, as judges, as lawyers, as media people. How are people going to talk about us and this part of our history?" CBC | BCTF eBook

Education minister visits SK schools

Saskatchewan’s Education Minister Don Morgan recently stopped in at a couple of schools to observe programs geared towards Indigenous students. At Connaught School in North Battleford, Morgan visited a kindergarten class where the “Help Me Tell My Story” program is in use. Educators use a puppet, Aski the Turtle, to engage students and work on literacy and school-readiness. The program—now in 300 classrooms in 117 schools, including 17 First Nations schools—also has a cultural component, and is designed to involve parents and caregivers in their child’s education. Morgan also visited Wesmor Public High School in Prince Albert to see the “Following their Voices” program, which is geared towards Aboriginal students with the goal of “developing positive student-teacher relationships while improving overall attendance and participation.” The program was piloted last year at 6 schools and is being rolled out to 17 schools this year, 12 of which are on-reserve schools. Educators say the program is benefitting both students and teachers. Battlefords News-Optimist | Prince Albert Daily Herald