Indigenous Top Ten

November 18, 2015

TRC National Centre opens doors at uManitoba

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) held opening ceremonies for its archives and offices earlier this month at the University of Manitoba. The NCTR houses millions of records collected by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, some of which have been sealed for decades. Centre Director Ry Moran noted that while the centre offers crucial testimony on Canada’s history of residential schools, it will prioritize protecting the survivors whose names and experiences are contained in the archives. The NCTR’s opening ceremonies also featured the release of a new series of guides designed to help Aboriginal youth make good decisions about the material they share online. Titled “Think Before You Share,” the guides were jointly released by Facebook, MediaSmarts, and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). Globe and Mail | CBC | Bay Today | CTV News | NationTalk (Youth Media Guide) | APTN (Guide)

FNESC calls for swift implementation of BC Auditor General’s recommendations

The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) has called for BC to immediately implement the recommendations laid out in “Performance Audit—Education of Aboriginal Students in British Columbia,” a report produced by the BC Office of the Auditor General. Among its findings, the report highlights the persistent achievement gaps that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in BC public schools. It further calls on BC’s Ministry of Education to exercise its power to close this gap. The key recommendations include the creation of a system-wide strategy, the implementation of a more culturally sensitive curriculum, intervention by school boards in districts consistently failing to serve Aboriginal students, and decreasing reliance on "completion certificates" for Aboriginal students. NationTalk | BC | CBC | Full Report

Canadian minister reaffirms promise to implement UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Canada’s Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett has announced that the new Liberal government will follow through with its promise to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Current Canadian law says the Crown has a “duty to consult” with Aboriginal peoples on issues that might affect their interests. Yet the implementation of the UN declaration will go much further in calling on the government to obtain “free, prior, and informed consent” on all such issues, including on matters of natural resources development. According to Bennett, advancing the cause of reconciliation means “starting out right, such that everything has been considered before a decision is taken so that you can find that win-win of ‘you can develop there but not there.’” APTN | Toronto Star | Indian Country Today | National Observer | Ottawa Citizen

Aboriginal artists raise money for NBCC bursary fund for Aboriginal students

Aboriginal artists from across New Brunswick contributed their work to an Aboriginal gala event held on Nov 12 by New Brunswick Community College. The gala was held to raise money for a new bursary fund for Aboriginal students, showcasing fashion, food, and artistic talents. Nine artists contributed their work to the gala, including artist Natalie Sappier. “I’ve studied and it’s not easy, so bursaries, scholarships help students and whatever we can do to help them is great,” said Sappier, a mixed-media artist who draws her inspiration from her people, the Tobique First Nation. NBCC Vice President of Employee and Student Development Suzanne Desrosiers said that the purpose of the gala was “not just to raise funds for the Aboriginal bursary fund but to raise awareness of the Aboriginal culture that we have in the province.” NBCC | CBC

Review of Nunavut Education Act reveals need for dramatic changes

The first review of the made-in-Nunavut Education Act of 2008 has found that Nunavut education outcomes have fallen short of those outlined by the “overly ambitious” act, and has recommended some dramatic changes to Nunavut education. The review committee, chaired by Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes, recommended focusing efforts to meet the goal of consistent, standardized programming for all students. To reach that goal, recommendations include moving from three potential models for Inuit language instruction to a single standardized model, changing supports for students who are not attending class to ensure the most effective use of resources, standardizing the duties and role of district education authorities, and ensuring that all Nunavut communities have the resources and training necessary for running early childhood education. CBC

AB students explore First Nations history through theatre project

Teenagers from four Calgary schools—two schools from First Nations communities and two from non-First Nations communities—recently gathered on the Tsuut’ina reserve to explore First Nations history through theatre. Local troupe Trickster Theatre has been working with the students to help them create their own plays about First Nations treaties, which will be performed on stage at the Finding the Balance Between Two Worlds: Youth Conference. A number of students found that the theatre project encouraged them to explore their culture; one such student, Austin Hieb, said, “it makes me want to learn more about my culture and where I come from, it makes me more excited about it."  Trickster Theatre | CBC

uAlberta to build Maskwa House of Learning

The University of Alberta has formally submitted its proposal for a $30 M centre for Aboriginal students as part of the institution’s commitment to reconciliation, said uAlberta President David Turpin during his installation speech on Monday. uAlberta reportedly has the country’s only Faculty of Native Studies, which Turpin referenced as a “strong foundation from which to move forward.” The Maskwa House of Learning will be built “in the spirit of working in partnership to answer the legacy of residential schools,” and it has the support of the Grand Chiefs of Treaties Six and Eight. Once completed, it will provide a home space for Indigenous students where they will be able to access necessary supports. Edmonton Journal | Speech

Grenfell builds database to honour NL’s Mi'kmaq soldiers

The campus website for Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Newfoundland is now home to a database listing Mi’kmaq from the province who enlisted in World War I. The project was initiated by Grenfell faculty member Maura Hanrahan, who said that the information contained in the database is the product of an exhaustive search of soldiers’ service files and public materials such as community histories, service records, other military documents, and headstones. Hanrahan reported that one of the biggest challenges in creating the database was determining whether soldiers were Mi’kmaq, as many official military records did not contain this information. When asked whether she was surprised by the results of her research, Hanrahan answered, “I knew that First Nations people elsewhere in Canada enlisted in large numbers and I expected that to be the case here. But I was surprised at how high the numbers are: there were more than 150 Newfoundland Mi’kmaq soldiers.” Gander Beacon

Selkirk launches elders-in-residence program

Selkirk College has launched an elders-in-residence program that will be based out of the Aboriginal Gathering Place at the Castlegar campus. Acknowledging the vital role that elders play in community life and the wellbeing of younger generations, the program aims to help students and staff connect with Elders from a number of different communities in the area. “Throughout the year, we hope to accommodate a regular presence on campus so that students can continue to receive support and guidance from the Elders and build relationships with them,” said Selkirk Aboriginal Services Liaison Jessica Morin. Selkirk also recently received an $18.9 M investment from the province of BC. The funding will be committed to the renewal and demolition of existing buildings at the Silver King Campus, as well as the construction of a new building that will house the Aboriginal Gathering Place, cafeteria, and multi-purpose study area. Selkirk (1) | Selkirk (2) | NationTalk

Yukon College to be renamed Yukon University

The Yukon has announced that Yukon College will be renamed Yukon University when the college completes its transition into a university. According to Yukon College President Karen Barnes, “having a name for the future institution will help Yukon College staff with planning for and developing the next iteration of postsecondary education in the territory.” The college’s Board Chair Paul Flaherty further explained, “this is more of a signal step to make it clear to the public that the transition is underway.” As part of its application process to Universities Canada, the college is currently preparing for a site visit from the organization to take place in the 2016–17 academic year. Yukon College