Indigenous Top Ten

November 4, 2015

First Mi’kmaw Immersion School opens in Eskasoni

After years of careful planning and hard work, the Eskasoni Mi’kmaw Nation has opened its first Mi’kmaw Immersion School. The initial program, developed in the early 2000s, started as a single class of Mi’kmaq immersion students that soon expanded to include students from K–grade 4. The increasing interest in the program led staff and language specialists to discuss developing a separate school, within which all communications—on the playground and in the classroom—would be held in Mi’kmaw. The school opened in September 2015 to accommodate over 120 students from K–grade 4. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of so many people,” said Principal Ida Denny. “We have [language resource workers] right here in the school and they provide us with so many resources. We have also had great support from our Education Office, community, and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK).” MK News

Laurentian breaks ground on new Indigenous centre

Laurentian University has begun construction on a new $3.4 M Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre (ISLC). Located near the main entrance of the Sudbury campus, the ISLC will provide informal study and learning spaces, rooms for cultural practices and teachings, and a large communal gathering space that can be used for lectures, ceremonies, and meetings. Indigenous students will have access to support programs, while non-Indigenous students and staff will be able to access the space to learn more about Indigenous history and culture. The 7,500-square-foot circular building will be reminiscent of local Indigenous architecture and will be complemented by additional outdoor spaces, including a Sacred Arbour. Laurentian received $1 M from Glencore and $400 K from RBC towards the centre, which is expected to open in 2017. The university has been actively recruiting Indigenous faculty as part of its commitment to enhancing the education experience for students. Northern Life | Salle des Nouvelles (in French) | KISS Sudbury

VIU assigns special faculty status to Elders

Vancouver Island University recently signed an agreement that accords a special faculty designation for Elders at the institution. VIU has had an Elders-in-residence program since the 1990s; the new agreement acknowledges the Elders as “gifted faculty who provide a unique and highly regarded knowledge contribution to VIU and the VIU community.” Former VIU Chancellor and current BC Shqwi qwal (Speaker) for Indigenous Dialogue Shawn A-in-chut Atleo spoke at the ceremony and highlighted the patience and perseverance of the Elders, who work to share the “brilliance and wisdom of Indigenous knowledge.” VIU

Residential school history introduced to Yukon curriculum

A new mandatory social studies unit in residential school history will be introduced this year for grade 10 students in the Yukon. Answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendation to increase education about Indian Residential Schools in Canada, students will learn the history of the schools and intergenerational effects of abuse and trauma. YK education minister Doug Graham referred to the curriculum as “important work (on) the journey towards reconciliation.” Graham also explained that instructors will be encouraged to co-teach with local First Nations persons and former residential school students, ensuring that the “curriculum takes a community-based approach.” The unit was piloted in several communities last year and is now being rolled out territory-wide. CBC

uSask launches Canada’s first Aboriginal theatre program

The University of Saskatchewan has launched a certificate program in Aboriginal Theatre, reportedly the first such program in Canada. The two-year wîchêhtowin Aboriginal Theatre Program will be offered through uSask’s Department of Drama and will prepare students for careers in theatre, television, film, and related industries. In Cree, wîchêhtowin means, “we live together in harmony; we help each other; we are inclusive.” uSask Assistant Professor Carol Greyeyes, an award-winning actor, writer, and director, will lead the program. The inaugural class of eight students began the 30-credit program this fall. uSask  | CBC

MUN, Nunatsiavut government announce $7.4 M partnership

Memorial University has announced that it will partner with the Nunatsiavut government on a $7.4 M, five-year project. The project’s goal is to combine academic research with traditional knowledge to preserve and promote the Labrador Inuit culture and language. Funding for the work will come from a $1.6 M contribution from the Nunatsiavut government, $1.4 M from MUN, a combined $2.1 M from 20 other organizations, and $2.3 M from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The project—titled Tradition and Transition Among the Labrador Inuit—will be led by Tom Gordon, Professor Emeritus at MUN’s School of Music. MUN | Telegram

High school students create music video thanks to mobile studio program

High school students from Lac Seul First Nation have created a song and music video as part of a program called N'we Jinan, a mobile music studio that aims to give Aboriginal students a creative voice. The song, "Echo My Soul," was written and performed by students from the First Nation with help from professional music producers. Students said the song is about their home community and expresses their determination to succeed and the resiliency of their people. The music video has been widely shared on social media and the students have been invited to perform live at an upcoming leadership event in Toronto. The song will also be featured on a compilation album produced by N'we Jinan. CBC | YouTube

Indigenization key focus of new uSask president

Newly installed University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff has recommitted to indigenizing the university and making it feel like home for Aboriginal students. “We must become the best place we possibly can be for Aboriginal students and their communities in this province and beyond it. That is a crucial role for the modern university, to respond to the most urgent issue of our time in this country, and in so doing to play a role in re-imagining Canada,” Stoicheff said at his installation ceremony. As part of its efforts to indigenize, uSask is hosting a national forum for university leadership about how universities can respond to recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. According to fall enrolment figures at uSask, nearly 11% of students self-identify as Aboriginal. uSask (Interview) | uSask (Installation) | uSask (Forum) |  Global News (Forum) | Global News (Interview) | uSask (Enrolment) | StarPhoenix

uAlberta med students benefit from new rotation in Aboriginal health

The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry has formed a partnership with a First Nation health commission to provide third-year med students and residents with an enhanced clinical rotation in an Indigenous community. The Bigstone Health Commission, uAlberta’s medical school, and a clinic in Wabasca will work together to provide experiential learning opportunities that will benefit the future doctors and the community. The students are encouraged to be change agents and to work to improve the experiences Aboriginal people have with health care. Students complete an online training module and develop their own learning objectives for the program before the placement begins. uAlberta

NVIT opens new $1.8 M trades training building

The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology has opened a new $1.8 M trades training building with support from the province. The new 670-square-metre facility is funded through BC’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, a data-driven initiative designed to align provincial funding and programs with in-demand occupations. The program will invest up to $185 M in the province and will fund new trades training facilities at Camosun College and Okanagan College as well. “The foundation of a strong, growing economy is a skilled workforce,” said Premier Christy Clark at the NVIT centre’s opening. “The new trades training building at NVIT will set up Aboriginal and other British Columbian students for success in good-paying, in-demand jobs they can depend on.” BC | Merritt Herald