Indigenous Top Ten

October 21, 2015

Yukon College develops core competency in First Nations history

Yukon College has introduced First Nations core competency requirements for all graduates. Students will now leave the college with knowledge of Yukon First Nations history and culture including residential schools, land claims, and languages. Many programs will require no change as they already meet the new requirements; students who do not receive the instruction in class have the option of taking a one-day workshop, an online course, or an online exam which has been approved by the Council of Yukon First Nations and all 14 Yukon First Nations. The college developed the workshop in 2013 and has since delivered it to 95% of its staff and faculty and a number of local organizations. Colleges and Institutes Canada recently awarded the first Indigenous Education Excellence Gold Award to Yukon College. Yukon | YouTube

New Indigenous research hub at uSask to explore mental health issues

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have launched a new initiative designed to explore mental health issues among Canada’s Indigenous population. The First Peoples-First Person Indigenous Hub will connect researchers, community organizations, and Indigenous peoples from across Canada working to improve wellness, healing, mental health, and addictions supports and services. “The goal of the Indigenous Hub is to build a comprehensive national research and intervention network based on Indigenous intelligence, which is the wise and conscientious embodiment of exemplary knowledge and the use of culture-based knowledge,” said hub co-leader Caroline Tait, a psychiatry professor in uSask’s College of Medicine. The hub is part of the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network. uSask | Hub website

WesternU developing Indigenous strategy

Western University recently highlighted several initiatives that will help it fulfill the commitment to Indigenous education made in its 2014 strategic plan. The Indigenous Strategic Initiatives Committee (ISIC) is working on WesternU’s first, multi-year Indigenous Strategic Plan and is currently seeking community feedback. A draft plan is expected in March 2016. In other news at WesternU, the university's Master of Professional Education (MPEd) degree in Aboriginal Education is successfully connecting postsecondary education with local First Nations communities. Through partnerships with local councils, the program hosts courses directly within communities. “This has been a great opportunity for us to show our community and our students that school doesn’t have to end, and to highlight the idea of lifelong learning,” said Michael Butler, Principal of Antler River Elementary School on the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. “The partnership reinforces the idea that university can be for anyone and everybody, no matter where they’re from.” WesternU (Plan) | WesternU (MPEd)

Nunavik launches region-wide breakfast awareness campaign

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) has launched a new campaign aimed at promoting the importance of breakfast for school children. The “Breakfast for Better Learning” campaign kit includes educational activities, a poster, a factsheet, ideas for classroom discussions about breakfast, and a booklet about healthy food. The kits will be distributed across the region and are meant to compliment existing breakfast programs in schools and communities. “Breakfast is an important meal because it provides the energy to start the day. Studies show that schoolchildren who eat breakfast perform much better at school and have more energy in sports and other physical activities,” said Serge Déry, NRBHSS Director of Public Health. NRBHSS

Alberta school opens new outdoor classroom

Terrace Ridge School in Lacombe, Alberta has created a new outdoor classroom that honours Indigenous ways of knowing. Shaped like a medicine wheel, the outdoor space will also serve as a medicine garden where students can learn about traditional plants and the importance of water security. The school received funding for the initiative from the Jane Goodall Institute as part of its Roots and Shoots program. The garden’s grand opening was blessed by Cree Elder Joseph Deschamps and included a talk by Brian Lightning, a Cree language co-ordinator from Maskwacis, who spoke of the meaning of the circle in Indigenous cultures. Lacombe Globe

Six Nations Polytechnic planning for increased enrolment

Six Nations Polytechnic is planning an expansion to an off-reserve location in 2016 in order to accommodate increasing enrolment. The current campus has room for approximately 200 full-time students; the new space will allow for up to 1,000 more students as well as expanded online learning options. The new site will be in Brantford, where SNP will lease part of Mohawk College’s former Elgin Street campus. SNP offers accredited programs in partnership with other PSE institutions as well as professional development and language certificate programs. Many programs are geared towards Indigenous students, although non-Indigenous learners also access programs at SNP in order to gain a better understanding of working within Aboriginal communities. SNP has been chosen to host the 2017 World Indigenous People's Conference on EducationHamilton Spectator

uRegina and Scotiabank create entrance award for Aboriginal students

Scotiabank has donated $150 K to the University of Regina to create an award that will benefit Aboriginal students. The Scotiabank Aboriginal Entrance Award will be available to first-year undergraduate Aboriginal students in good academic standing who exhibit community involvement. “Scotiabank is proud to partner with the University of Regina to invest in these talented young students,” said Karen Birss, Scotiabank District VP, Saskatchewan South District. “We believe in investing in young people to ensure they have the tools and skills needed to succeed in both their academic lives and beyond.” New enrolment numbers at uRegina suggest that 12% of the student population identifies as Aboriginal. uRegina | Global News | Scotiabank

Kingston school board highlights Aboriginal initiatives

Kingston Ontario’s Limestone District School Board (LDSB) is working to achieve the provincial mandate of improving outcomes for Aboriginal students and introducing all school children to Indigenous histories and cultures. In addition to provincial curriculum at the elementary and secondary levels that incorporates Aboriginal knowledge, the school board is home to the Katarokwi Aboriginal School, operated in partnership with the Métis Nation of Ontario. The school offers secondary-level programming that is complemented with traditional hands-on activities. LDSB schools also benefit from initiatives such as Elder visits, conferences, and workshops. Kingston Whig-Standard

Aurora College profs, marketers team up to boost enrolment

Trades programs at Aurora College have ramped up their recruitment efforts to address low enrolment rates. Instructors and marketers from the college have teamed up to roll out a series of initiatives that includes promotional videos, campus and workshop walkthroughs, and an open house event. Duane MacDonald, Acting Chair of Trades, Apprenticeship and Industrial Training, said, “the numbers are definitely lower than I would like to see, I would welcome more students to come here. … Our school is modern and we’re up-to-date. We have all the latest technology in our shops. Our instructors are trained and they are current coming out of industry.” Northern Journal

2015 Burt literature award winners announced

The Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE) has announced the winners of the 2015 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. The order of the prizes will be announced at an upcoming ceremony. The three winners are Grey Eyes by Frank Christopher Busch, Lightfinder by Aaron Paquette, and Skraeling by Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley. Copies of the winning books will be sent to schools, libraries, and Friendship Centres across Canada to ensure that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth can access them. “Through engaging writing that reflects lived realities and contemporary issues of Indigenous youth, we hope to provide the spark to allow more and more youth the chance to discover a love of reading,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. CODE