Indigenous Top Ten

January 13, 2016

MB educators sign Indigenous education blueprint

The Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA) and nine of Manitoba’s universities and colleges have signed a new Indigenous education blueprint in an effort to comprehensively implement recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Signatories of the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint For Universities, Colleges and Public School Boards: Making Excellence in Indigenous Education a Priority commit to ten areas of Indigenous education including increasing access, participation, and academic success of Indigenous people; making Indigenous language, culture, and history part of curricula and classrooms; and engaging in respectful and reciprocal relationships with Indigenous peoples to further reconciliation efforts. Next steps include establishing a steering committee of all signatories, creating a website and social media platform, and hosting an education conference. Winnipeg Free Press | uWinnipeg | uManitoba | CMU | RRC | ACC

M’Chigeeng launches early literacy program

M’Chigeeng First Nation’s Lakeview School is the first to officially launch the Confident Learners program, a literacy initiative designed for Indigenous youth in kindergarten to grade three. The program combines Indigenous ways of knowing with the science of literacy skill development to provide a variety of learning opportunities that are grounded in Indigenous culture. The initiative also provides educators with access to professional development opportunities and a family/community literacy component to support school-based efforts. Confident Learners was developed by Douglas Willms, Canada Research Chair in Literacy and Human Development at the University of New Brunswick, in partnership with Lakeview School. The program began to be implemented two years ago at Lakeview; so far, 32 schools have plans to implement Confident Learners with four launching this year. Anishnabek News | Manitoulin Expositor | Confident Learners Website

New course aims to prepare and support principals at First Nations schools

A pilot project started by the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Education in partnership with the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative is helping principals in First Nation schools. The First Nations Principals Course provides over 200 hours of mostly online training to principals who often do not have access to resources or support networks. The course includes instruction on topics such as setting up student records, evaluating and improving teaching skills, and parental and community involvement. Participants can access instructional videos as well as online discussion forums where they can share knowledge and best practices with peers and colleagues. “If our goal is ultimately to try to improve student achievement, the single best way to do that is to support educational leaders,” said uToronto professor and course co-leader Jean-Paul Restoule. Toronto Star

MB commits funding to support Indigenous students

Manitoba has announced funding increases for Indigenous students in the province at all levels of education. To support Indigenous students at the elementary and secondary levels, the province is committing $500 K for transition supports for students leaving First Nation schools and entering provincial schools, $500 K for the Aboriginal Academic Achievement grant, and $375 K to support the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative and a pilot model school for First Nations students that incorporates traditional languages and targeted literacy supports. MB has also launched a new website that provides student achievement data in order to track outcomes. To support Indigenous students at the postsecondary level, the province has committed $1 M to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, $350 K to support Indigenous culture on college and university campuses, and more than $750 K for new programs at uManitoba and BrandonU. MB (PSE) | CBC | Data Website | MB (K–12) | BrandonU | uManitoba

SFU prof translating learning app into Indigenous languages

A mathematics education professor at Simon Fraser University has been working to translate her early-numbers learning app into the Ojibwe and Nuu-chah-nulth languages. Nathalie Sinclair is a Canada Research Chair in Tangible Mathematics Learning who designed the TouchCounts app to help children use touch to learn numbers. “Early-number learning and language revitalization is pretty much a dynamite combination,” said Sinclair, who is working with educators and youth in northern Ontario and northwest BC to develop versions of the app in different Indigenous languages. Sinclair added that she is interested in translating the app into more Indigenous languages and that another goal of the project is to explore how the different languages structure numbers and to “preserve different ways of thinking about numbers.” SFU

CBU launches free, open course on Mi’kmaq history, culture

Cape Breton University has created a new course titled “Learning from Knowledge Keepers of Mi’kma’ki” that will be open to students, the local community, and anyone with Internet access. The course will cover topics such as the Mi’kmaq creation story, oral history and traditions, Indigenous governance, and identifying challenges and resilience within Mi’kmaq communities. The course will use a dialogical approach to learning, utilizing talking circles within the class and social media engagement with online learners. It is available as a for-credit course to registered CBU students, but the wider community is welcome to attend the lectures in person or via live stream. Each class will also be recorded and available online for anyone unable to attend; the course is free of charge and will run Monday evenings for 12 weeks. More than 2,200 people had already registered for the course’s first class this past MondayCBU (1) | CBU (2) | ChronicleHerald

Aboriginal languages included in Canada’s new official font

In preparation for Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017, organizers have updated the official font or “unified typeface” to one that represents Aboriginal languages as well as English and French. Canadian type designer Raymond Larabie created the inclusive font after studying handwritten and typed samples of languages such as Cree, Inuktitut, and Ojibwe. Larabie also looked at differences between the Latin alphabet and Aboriginal writing systems, including syllabics, in order to make the font reflect typographical nuances evident in Aboriginal languages. “It’s a chance to contribute to the 150-year development of Canada’s very own visual identity,” Larabie said of his involvement in the project. Quartz | CBC

MNO signs new collaborative agreement with province

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has signed an MOU with Ontario’s Ministry of Education that emphasizes the shared commitment towards improving outcomes for Métis students and increasing the recognition of a distinct Métis culture and history within provincial schools. The MOU renews the collaborative spirit of an earlier agreement while building on the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement signed in 2014. MNO President Gary Lipinski said that there has been more recognition of Métis tradition and identity within the K–12 system since an earlier MOU was signed in 2009, adding that “the relationship between the MNO and the province will be strengthened by this commitment as gaps in student achievement across the province are reduced.” MNO

NU employment skills program deemed a success, set to expand

A new skills training pilot program in Nunavut has graduated its first cohort and plans to expand to additional communities. Getting Ready for Employment and Training (GREAT), offered by NU’s Department of Family Services in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College, is a 12-week employment readiness program designed to help individuals transition from income assistance. The program allows participants to develop personal essential skills and employment readiness and includes a two-week work experience placement. GREAT was initially offered in Kugluktuk, Iqaluit, and Rankin Inlet and will now expand to be offered in seven NU communities. "Not only does this program exemplify successful collaboration between divisions, but it also shows how much people can accomplish when we believe in one another, support one another, and receive the tools, training, and mentorship to go beyond our own expectations," said Minister of Family Services George Kuksuk. NU | Nunatsiaq Online

Niagara and Confederation sign MOUs to increase access for Aboriginal students

Niagara College and the Anishinabek Educational Institute have renewed a partnership designed to improve Anishinabek students’ access to programs and boost student retention efforts. The five-year agreement will see Niagara and AEI collaborate on the promotion and curriculum development of chosen programs. In addition, the institutions will explore opportunities for shared curriculum and faculty/staff development. Similarly, Confederation College and the Couchiching First Nation have signed an MOU to collaborate on the creation of a trades school. Under the terms of the agreement, Couchiching would provide the facility and Confederation would deliver programming in skilled trades, engineering technology, and related areas. Niagara | Anishinabek News | Confederation | APTN