Indigenous Top Ten

December 16, 2015

MB introduces legislation requiring students, teachers to learn Indigenous history

Manitoba has introduced legislation that would mandate the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework, ensuring that all students and teachers in the province learn about Indigenous history, culture, and the legacy of residential schools. The framework integrates Indigenous perspectives into curricula and provides guidelines for teacher training on related topics. The document also outlines the vision for Indigenous education in the province and highlights activities and programs designed to foster academic success for Indigenous students such as the Treaty Education Initiative. “By educating our future generations, we can learn from our past actions and work together to build a more inclusive and just Canada,” said Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum. The framework is currently in draft form and will be updated regularly. MB | Framework Draft | CTV News

Non-profit develops classroom guide on residential schools

A new classroom resource guide about residential schools is being developed to help support teachers in grades 7–12 that want to incorporate the topic into curriculum. Non-profit organization Facing History and Ourselves (FHO) is working on the guide; the group previously created resource guides for the classroom on topics such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. Residential school “victor” Theodore Fontaine is contributing to the resource guide, which will also contain Indigenous history for context. The guide can help teachers that may not be comfortable teaching the topic due to lack of confidence in their own knowledge as well as those uncomfortable starting difficult discussions in the classroom. FHO plans to hold a workshop for teachers in the GTA who wish to incorporate the guide. Toronto Star

Dal launches new Elders in Residence program

Dalhousie University has launched an Elders in Residence program as part of its commitment to answer the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The inaugural Elders come from a range of cultural and professional backgrounds and will be available to students for counselling and support as needed. The Elders will also contribute their knowledge to ceremonies and traditions such as smudging. Dal is actively working on indigenization throughout the campus, with the new Elders program just one of the initiatives planned. Kara Paul, Program Manager for Dal's Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative, added, “not just physical space … but in curriculum, in our signage, our concepts, our research. It’s about creating space for indigenization, not just having it be an ‘add on.’ It needs to be integrated, embedded within the fabric of the university.” Dal (Elders) | Dal (indigenization)


NIC uses $2.1 M in funding to introduce 24 programs to North Island communities

North Island College will be using $2.1 M in funding to bring 24 programs to a number of communities across the North Island in the next two years. The programs were developed as a result of NIC’s ongoing communication with local residents and organizations, and they include programs such as health assistant and plumbing foundation programs in Comox Valley, a new electrical foundation program in Port Alberni, and a new Aboriginal education assistant program in Mount Waddington. “We’re very proud that we will be offering six programs in Aboriginal communities in partnership with local First Nations,” said NIC's VP Learning and Students Lisa Domae. NIC has also announced that it will begin to offer a Kwak’wala Language Course starting January 2016. This is reportedly the first Indigenous language class to be offered by NIC in Port Hardy. NIC (funding) | My Comox Valley Now | NIC (language)


Study looks at factors affecting dropout rates in Nunavut

Low attendance and high dropout rates are often cited as major issues in Nunavut’s education system and a reason for lower graduation rates among Canada’s northern populations. A new study by researchers at the University of Winnipeg suggests that while a variety of factors influence whether youth drop out of school, the most important factors are a youth’s relationship to parents/family and to friends. The study found that a student whose parents encourage them to attend school regularly is 27% less likely to miss a day and 26% less likely to consider dropping out of school. By comparison, a student who has friends who have dropped out is 28% more likely to miss a day and 18% more likely to drop out. In addition, the researchers found that youth who spend time on the land while in high school are 13% less likely to drop out, indicating the benefits of being close to one’s culture for identity formation and academic success. Food and housing security also played an important role in whether youth complete high school. uWinnipeg

BC releases strategic plan, announces funds for Aboriginal skills training

BC’s Industry Training Authority (ITA) has developed a new strategic plan to help engage Aboriginal people in the skilled trades and to provide support programs that will enable accessibility and foster success. The Aboriginal Initiatives Skills Training Plan 2015-18 focuses on specific activities under two key categories: Relationships­ and Services. The plan was developed in consultation with a variety of stakeholders and is aligned with the province’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint. In addition, the BC government recently committed more than $750 K for two new Aboriginal skills training programs for members of the Tsil Kaz Koh (Burns Lake Band), the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Skin Tyee First Nation, and Nee-Tahi-Buhn Indian Band. The programs will involve essential skills and trades training; one program will be delivered by the College of New Caledonia. ITA | BC

New pilot course mixes art and Indigenous education for high school students

A new pilot course has been rolled out at 45 Toronto high schools as part of the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) efforts to include understanding of Indigenous cultures and issues in all children’s education. The unique art course, called “Expressions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Cultures,” combines art techniques with Indigenous studies. Students participate in art-based activities with an Indigenous theme as well as visiting various historical sites. Approximately 2,000 Grade 9 students are currently taking the course and TDSB Superintendent John Chasty would like to see the program offered at all TDSB high schools in future years. TDSB has provided multiple workshops on Indigenous history for it’s faculty and staff and is currently developing new lesson plans to reflect updates to the province’s First Nations curriculum.  Toronto Star

uManitoba signs MOU with Treaty Relations Commission

The University of Manitoba has signed an MOU with the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba (TRCM), committing to collaborate on a number of issues related to Treaty education. The initiatives include seminars on Treaty issues for students, faculty, and staff; workshops on integrating Treaty awareness into curriculum; and a Treaty Ambassador program for students. “[uManitoba] appreciates the opportunity to work closely with the TRCM as we further enrich our community with Indigenous perspectives,” said President David Barnard. Treaty Relations Commissioner James Wilson added, “we feel confident that this MOU will inspire individuals and empower the kind of change that will help us build healthier relationships and stronger communities.” uManitoba | Winnipeg Sun

Labrador Institute publishes children’s book about Innu legend

Memorial University’s Labrador Institute has published a children’s book based on an Innu legend. The bilingual book is based on a recording from the 1960s of an Elder recounting the legend in the Innu-aimun language. “We wanted to produce books for children in the Aboriginal languages of Labrador and to use stories from their own communities,” said Martha MacDonald, acting director of the institute and one of the book’s editors. “I think it’s important to present two ways of knowing the world and treating science and traditional knowledge as equally important points of view.” The book was funded by a donation from the Hibernia Management and Development Company. MUN

Indigenous content should be mandatory across all Canadian universities

“Every university in Canada should mandate Indigenous content,” writes University of Winnipeg President Annette Trimbee and uWinnipeg Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs Wab Kinew. The article notes that uWinnipeg and Lakehead University have already instituted mandatory Indigenous content, but calls upon all of Canada’s other universities to do the same. The article’s authors insist that any institute proposing to deliver higher learning must fulfill the ethical demands of living and working within Canada. They argue that “whether or not you have Indigenous blood, if you live in this country, at least a part of your identity is Indigenous. It is time that every Canadian recognizes that—first, because it is the truth; and second, because denying Canada’s Indigenous character is partly responsible for the continued inequities faced by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people.” Globe and Mail