Indigenous Top Ten

October 7, 2015

New report says ON education system failing Aboriginal students in the North

A new report by the Northern Policy Institute suggests that the Ontario education system is failing Aboriginal students in the North. According to the report, titled A Strategy for Change: Supporting Teachers and Improving First Nations, Métis, and Inuit School Success in Provincially Funded Northwestern Ontario Schools, ON’s education system is lacking two key strategies: access to traditional knowledge and access to teachers “educated to impart contemporary knowledge through culturally responsive teaching methods.” To address this, the authors recommend combining two existing programs—the Biwaase’aa Program, a community-based education program that uses traditional knowledge to engage students, and the Maamaawisiiwin Professional Teacher Development Program, which is based on a successful program in New Zealand. The resulting Biwaase’aa/Maamaawisiiwin Education Innovation program would build on previous successes and would align with the province’s commitment to improve Aboriginal education. Northern Policy Institute | Full Report

Arctic Bay students create anti-bullying video

Students from Inuujaq School in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, have made a video that they hope will help combat bullying. In the video, the grade 6 students act out several scenes in which students are bullied; the students also hold up handwritten signs describing how they feel when they are bullied. Behind the scenes, students discussed what they could do to help the bullied students in each scenario and then filmed the responses, said teacher Gregory Stevenson. The students hope the video will show victims of bullying that they are not alone and that there is help available. CBC (with video)

uMontréal launches new Aboriginal studies program and Aboriginal student lounge

The Université de Montréal recently launched a new Aboriginal Studies program, a new Aboriginal student lounge, and new support services designed for Aboriginal students. The new program includes specializations in both Canadian and global Indigenous studies and is available as either a 30-credit minor or as a 15-credit certificate. The new student lounge is called Uatik, the Innu word for ‘tree,’ and will give the university’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and staff a place to gather and learn from each other. Additionally, Aboriginal students at uMontréal will now have access to targeted financial and academic support services. uMontréal (in French) | APTN | Program Info (in French) | Support Services (in French)

CMU and Peguis FN offer university transition program

Winnipeg’s Canadian Mennonite University is working with Peguis First Nation and the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC) to help Indigenous students transition to university life. The Peguis First Nation Post-secondary Indigenous Transition Program, being piloted this year at CMU, is reportedly the first program of its kind to run in Winnipeg. Students live on the CMU campus and take part in a variety of academic and extracurricular programming designed to introduce them to university-level studies and living in an urban setting. “We need to make changes that will help our young people to succeed and overcome a lot of those negative aspects that may hold them back,” said MFNERC’s Wayne Mason. The program began in August and runs for ten months. Academic credits gained during the program can be transferred to CMU programs or other institutions. CMU | Global News

$8 M gift to support Aboriginal and African-Nova Scotian students at StFX

St Francis Xavier University has received an $8 M gift to benefit Aboriginal and African-Nova Scotian students, reportedly the largest private alumni donation of its kind. The Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment was funded by StFX almuna Jeannine Deveau, who went on to research and teach at the Université de Montréal for more than 30 years; the endowment is tied to a fund-matching initiative and has the potential to grow to $13 M. Scholarship amounts will be tailored to individual student needs. The endowment will also support StFX’s X-Project, which offers leadership and educational support in five Aboriginal and African-Nova Scotian communities. StFX | ChronicleHerald | CBC

Investments in SK for Aboriginal education

The Saskatchewan government has announced funding and support for Aboriginal education programs across the province. The Ministry of Advanced Education has signed an agreement to support the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) and the Northern Professional Access Program (NORPAC), which provide Aboriginal-specific teacher education and arts and science degree programs with northern and Indigenous content through the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina. Further, the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) with uSask has launched a new Aboriginal Mentorship Program to support Aboriginal postsecondary students in the STEM fields. Students will be paired with mentors in the same or similar disciplines and will receive coaching and support during the school year as well as summer employment opportunities. Lastly, SK has committed $566,996 to the Construction Careers Regina program delivered by the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT). The program provides Aboriginal learners with the skills, certifications, and experience needed to gain employment in the construction and industrial sectors. SK (NORTEP) | SK (Mentors) | SK (SIIT)

NS marks Treaty Day with education agreement, Mi’kmaw digital atlas

Nova Scotia celebrated its provincial Treaty Day event by signing an agreement with Mi’kmaq leaders to develop a long-term Treaty Education initiative. The parties will work together to create Treaty Education programs and services for the provincial education system, civil service employees, and the broader public. "Together the Mi'kmaq and the province have begun to plant the seeds of justice and responsibility, so that future generations will understand our shared history and shared responsibility in Nova Scotia," said Chief Leroy Denny, Chair of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey. The province also celebrated the launch of an interactive digital atlas of traditional Mi’kmaw place names. Project Director Trudy Sable from Saint Mary’s University led the project, an initiative of the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum. The project began in 2010 and includes etymology, pronunciation, and videos of interviews with Elders, who played an important role in the initiative. SMU interns and student researchers conducted much of the research. NS | SMU | Kukukwes | Atlas Website

UBC receives $1 M to support Aboriginal women studying business

The University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business has received a $1 M gift from the family of Warren and Maureen Spitz to create a new awards program to benefit Aboriginal women pursuing business degrees. One to two Spitz Family Awards of up to $10 K will be available each year for Aboriginal women looking to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce at UBC. Recipients of these awards will be invited to participate in the Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education initiative and promote business education among Aboriginal high school students, attend networking events and conferences with fellow Aboriginal business students across BC, and gain access to internships created through the program. In other news, UBC recently formalized a partnership with Langara College that allows Aboriginal students from Langara to transfer to UBC. The project began three years ago as a pilot and has now been extended and expanded to include more programs. UBC (Business) | Langara | UBC (Transfer)

FSIN asks federal leaders to commit more funding to First Nations PSE students

Members of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) have called upon federal leaders to commit to addressing current gaps in PSE funding for First Nations students. Since 1996, funding for on-reserve schools has been under a 2% cap for annual expenditure increases, which FSIN Vice-Chief Bobby Cameron says has hindered high school graduates’ ability to attend PSE. Cameron has also asked for clarification on how the federal government will approach student funding moving forward. Currently, funding for First Nations students is provided through their bands using the Post Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP). However, Canada stated in 2009 that planned changes to the program would require First Nations students to apply for funding through Canada Student Loans. StarPhoenix

Non-traditional students need more diversity in academic services, US study finds

A new study argues that institutions need to diversify their services to better suit their non-traditional students. Non-traditional students have traits such as having one or more dependents, not having a traditional high school diploma, and being employed full-time. About 75% of US undergraduates from 2011–12 were found to have at least one non-traditional characteristic, compared to 70% from 1995–96. The study brief states that “examining non-traditional characteristics is important … because students with these characteristics can be vulnerable to challenges that can affect their well-being, levels of stress and satisfaction, and likelihood of persisting and attaining a degree.” eCampusNews NCES Brief