Indigenous Top Ten

December 2, 2015

uWinnipeg senate approves first-in-Canada Indigenous course requirement

The University of Winnipeg senate has approved a requirement, proposed earlier this year, that all undergraduate students take at least one Indigenous studies course in order to graduate. The requirement will take effect for all new students beginning in 2016–17 and will not affect graduation requirements for current students. “This is a proud, joyous, and historic day for the uWinnipeg community,” said President Annette Trimbee. The institution is reportedly the first to require a full course in Indigenous studies for all students. In related news, the Students' Union at the University of Saskatchewan is asking that the school make Indigenous content a mandatory part of every one of its programs. The union has also asked that the university convene a committee of faculty, students, and Indigenous leaders to determine how the mandatory programming could best be implemented. CBC (uWinnipeg) | Global News (uWinnipeg) | CBC (uSask) | Global News (uSask)


FNIGC releases preliminary data from First Nations-led survey

The First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) has released preliminary data from the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey (FNREEES). Early analysis focused on education, employment, and culture, revealing that 86% of parents believe that it is important for their children to learn traditional teachings. In addition, 90% of parents reported that their child’s school is supportive of First Nations culture. The FNREEES further indicates that among First Nations adults, 43% have less than a high school diploma, 32% have a high school diploma, and 24% have completed some postsecondary education. When it comes to First Nations adults in the workforce, 93% of those happy at work said that their workplace is supportive of First Nations culture. The survey gathered information from more than 21,000 children, youth, and adults from 250 First Nation communities across Canada. Final results from the FNREEES are expected in March 2016. FNIGC | CBC |

PSE leaders in SK commit to closing Aboriginal education gap

The leaders of all 24 postsecondary institutions in Saskatchewan have announced their commitment to work together to close the education gap for Aboriginal people. The province-wide commitment is reportedly the first of its kind in Canada and will see universities, colleges, and polytechnics working together and consulting with Aboriginal communities on how the province can best bring Aboriginal educational attainment up to the same level as non-Aboriginal attainment. The agreement was announced at the “Building Reconciliation” forum, a national meeting of university presidents, student leaders, and Indigenous scholars and leaders held Nov 18 and 19 at uSask that examined how universities can respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action for PSE. uSask | CBC | Turtle Island News Globe and Mail

Anishinabek Nation signs education agreement with ON

The Ontario government and the Anishinabek First Nations have signed a Master Education Framework Agreement that will ensure collaboration and open doors to new education opportunities. The goals of the agreement include establishing strategies to promote Anishinaabe student success and wellbeing; improving transitions between on-reserve and provincial schools; and supporting the Anishinabek Education System in its delivery of high-quality programs and services in First Nations schools. “This is significant in terms of the collaboration that's planned. With this agreement, we'll have reciprocal agreements, we'll take the best of the Anishinabek culture, history, languages, incorporate them with the best practices of provincial schools, and create an overall enhanced education system,” said Patrick Madahbee, Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief. Anishinabek Nation | Sault Star | Anishinabek News

Dechinta, UBC partner to offer university course credits

The Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning has partnered with the University of British Columbia to offer northern students access to university course credits from UBC. The partnership will enable Dechinta students to transfer earned credits to UBC for continued studies and will also help attract southern students to Dechinta programs. Under the agreement, UBC’s Glen Coulthard will spend half his time teaching at Dechinta. “[It’s] really important for me to make sure that students are supported,” said Coulthard, “to cut back on the alienation and these other sorts of barriers that students tend to experience when they go south for university.” CBC | MyYellowknifeNow

JIBC breaks ground on welcoming facility for Aboriginal students

The Justice Institute of British Columbia has broken ground on a new welcoming facility for Aboriginal students at its New Westminster campus. The facility, funded by BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education, is designed to enhance support services for Aboriginal students at JIBC and to provide a space for non-Aboriginal students and staff to deepen their understanding of Aboriginal history and culture. President Michel Tarko described it as a “venue where First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students, staff, and faculty can gather and support one another and share our traditions and customs with non-Aboriginal students.” JIBC

New digital tools for language preservation, revitalization

Nunavik’s Kativik School Board has developed an Inuktitut keyboard app, iNaqittaq, which allows users to type in Inuktitut syllabics. The keyboard is available at no charge for people with Apple products and is designed to assist language learners and to encourage young people to use their traditional language when communicating digitally. Similarly, a company in Nunavut has developed a Google extension that converts Inuit language syllabics to Roman orthography. Ryan Oliver, director of NT-based tech company Pinnguaq, said they decided to develop the extension when it began to look like “government support at all levels is going to move in this direction in terms of standardization of the written language and moving away from Inuit syllabics specifically.” A recent review of Nunavut’s Education Act recommended the territory move towards a single, standardized model of Inuktitut instruction in order to facilitate improved learning. And in BC, the Ktunaxa Nation has released new Ktunaxa language apps designed to build usage and proficiency among children and adults. The apps include Ktunaxa keyboards for Android and Apple products, a digital storybook that helps with pronunciation and comprehension, puzzles, and a digital colouring book. Kativik School Board | Nunatsiaq Online | Radio Canada | Ktunaxa Nation

Donors contribute $300K for uAlberta’s ATEP program

Two anonymous donors have contributed $300 K to the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education to support the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) and uAlberta will match the gift. The funds will allow for increased enrolment in the ATEP program and more Aboriginal teachers in northern AB. ATEP allows Aboriginal students to study in or near home communities, receiving a BEd that consists of the same core curriculum as students learning on campus, but that is enhanced with Aboriginal ways of knowing and learning. “This donation will assist the faculty as we pursue our goal of doubling the number of students [in ATEP] by 2018,” said Randy Wimmer, interim Dean of the Faculty of Education. “Having met with the donors, I know that they share our vision and commitment to help improve the education of Aboriginal students throughout Alberta.” Illuminate

Frontier College releases report on 2015 summer literacy camps

Frontier College has released its 2015 report on Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps; last summer, 6,648 children and youth attended camps in 99 Aboriginal communities across Canada. This is an increase from 2014 in both the number of attendees and the number of communities offering the camps. In addition, more than 300 camp staff benefited from training and employment opportunities, 44% of whom were counsellors hired from local communities. More than 37,000 free books were distributed to participants and communities during the camps. Parents reported that their children read more at home after participating in the camp (89%) and that the camp boosted their child’s confidence and readiness to learn (97%). TD Bank Group donated more than $2.5 M towards the summer camp program in 2015. Frontier College | YouTube

SMU, Mi’kmaw Nation sign MOU to collaborate on digital atlas project

Saint Mary’s University has signed an MOU with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq and the Union of Nova Scotia Indians, the two Tribal Councils representing all Nova Scotia First Nations. Under the terms of the agreement, SMU will transfer ownership of the recently launched Ta’n Weji-sqalia’tiek: Mi’kmaw Place Names Digital Atlas and Website to the Mi’kmaw Nation, but will continue to collaborate on the development of the site and related research. SMU | Ta’n Weji-sqalia’tiek Website