Indigenous Top Ten

January 27, 2016

Trent to offer new Indigenous Bachelor of Education Program

A new Indigenous Bachelor of Education degree program will be offered at Trent University next fall. The program, designed partially in response to the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, aims to increase the number of Indigenous teachers in the province. Program developers are working closely with Trent’s Indigenous Studies program; course options will include a language course in Ojibwe and a math course related to Indigenous culture. Graduates of the program will be able to teach at all grade levels. “We need to increase the actual number of Indigenous teachers in Ontario schools so that students see those role models and students see that they too can become a teacher,” said Cathy Bruce, Interim Dean of Education at Trent. Globe and Mail

Langara receives new name in Musqueam language

Langara College has received a new name, conferred upon it by Elders of the Musqueam First Nation. The new name is snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ (pronounced sno-WAY-ith LAY-lum), meaning “house of teachings” in the Musqueam language. The school will keep its current name as well, using both names interchangeably. “What we’re looking for with this is making sure the duality we share is recognized,” said Langara President Lane Trotter. “We are on Musqueam’s unceded territory. We are Musqueam’s college. We are Vancouver’s college. And we need to reflect that.” Trotter also told CBC that over the next few months, the college will be making new investments in Aboriginal education and services. Langara | CBC

uSask increases support for Indigenous engineering students

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Engineering has announced the new Indigenous Peoples Industry Partnership Program to support Indigenous engineering students through summer work placements and tuition assistance. The engineering college will facilitate partnerships between students and organizations and will provide support and guidance. Students will gain paid, hands-on work experience and will also have access to employee mentors during their employment. The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PotashCorp) is the first partner to join the initiative, after a successful pilot program last summer. “It’s a priority for PotashCorp to build a skilled, diverse workforce and that means we want to connect with Aboriginal students and encourage them to consider careers with us,” said PotashCorp President Mark Fracchia. uSask | StarPhoenix | Global News

Auditor general’s report says education gap widening in MB

A new report by the auditor general of Manitoba suggests that government programs and spending meant to address the Indigenous education gap are not working. Auditor General Norm Ricard notes that the gap has actually widened, with 55% of Indigenous students graduating high school in 2015 compared to 57% in 2010. The graduation rate for non-Aboriginal students in the province is 96%. According to the audit, the government has failed to identify specific barriers to success experienced by Indigenous students and did not provide clear directions to school divisions about their role in improving Indigenous education. In addition, the report indicates that per-student funding is much lower than in other provinces. Ricard’s report makes 19 recommendations including establishing measureable short- and long-term targets and providing more support to schools and teachers. The audit was conducted between September 2014 and June 2015 and therefore did not account for recent funding and support announcements by the province. Winnipeg Free Press (1) | Winnipeg Free Press (2) | Full Report

Sports helping keep kids in school, engaged

Educators are using sports to encourage attendance and engagement at school in First Nations communities and are having positive results. A recently renewed partnership between Lakehead University and Wasaya Airways called “Reach Up!” brings coaches and student athletes to First Nations communities in northern Ontario to run sports clinics and act as role models to local youth. The program encourages youth to be active and stay in school and provides Lakehead’s student athletes with opportunities to gain leadership and coaching skills and to learn more about First Nations culture. Similarly, a program called Ski Fit North Alberta led by former Olympian Beckie Scott is bringing cross-country ski training to Aboriginal schools across Alberta. Developed by Cross Country Canada and Cross Country Alberta, the program focuses on physical literacy and mental wellness in a supportive environment. A program created by the Keewatin-Patricia School Board in northwestern Ontario is using hockey to boost student attendance. The board incorporated hockey into its phys-ed curriculum in 2012 with support from Hockey Canada and Jumpstart. Students do not have to pay to participate in the program, but they must attend school and do their schoolwork. Lakehead | CBC (Ski Fit) | CBC (Hockey)

Endangered languages highlighted by revitalization projects

Two endangered Indigenous languages are the subjects of recent revitalization projects, just as Edward John, Chief of the Tl'azt'en Nation in BC and a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, is calling for more urgent attention to Indigenous language loss around the world. Simon Fraser University and non-profit organization Kwi Awt Stelmexw will be launching a full-time Squamish language immersion program for adult learners starting in fall 2016. The program will run seven hours a day, five days a week; after completing 1,000 classroom hours, students will graduate with a certificate in First Nations language proficiency. The goal is to graduate 15 fluent speakers a year, growing the number of speakers from seven in 2017 to at least 157 by the year 2027. In Canada’s North, a Gwich'in woman is using social media to connect speakers and learners of the Gwich’in language. #SpeakGwichinToMe is modelled after similar campaigns launched by Indigenous language speakers, such as Europe’s Sami people. Social media and technology should become tools to teach young people their languages, said Chief John. SFU | CBC (Squamish) | Program Info | CBC (Gwichin) | Huffington Post

RBC contributes funds to uManitoba for Indigenous students and northern communities

The University of Manitoba is the recipient of a $1.025 M funding commitment from the RBC Foundation that will benefit Indigenous students, northern communities, and those living with mental health issues. RBC will provide $500 K for the Manitoba Online Overcoming Depression (MOOD) Program, which will use the funds for technology to improve students’ access to mental health supports. An additional $500 K will go to the Health Sciences Student Travel Initiative in support of medical and dental students that travel to northern communities for hands-on training and experience in northern health issues. RBC is also providing $25 K for Aboriginal Business Education Partners (ABEP) Scholarships, which support Indigenous youth studying business. The funds build on earlier commitments by the province for uManitoba’s Front and Centre campaign. uManitoba

SFU helps create, appoint $2.5 M research chair in First Nations heart health

Simon Fraser University, St Paul’s Hospital, and the First Nations Health Authority have appointed Jeff Reading as the inaugural First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health and Wellness. The $2.5 M Chair is reportedly the first of its kind in western Canada and is devoted to the pursuit of “research and education to develop a cardiac health program tailored to the needs of First Nations people.” Reading, a Mohawk from the Tyendinaga First Nation in Ontario, lost his father to a heart attack. Following his appointment Reading told reporters, “it’s tragic that my dad’s life had to end the way it did. There are things my father could have done better to manage his own heart disease, but it’s a question of providing people with the knowledge and the tools so that they can actually improve their health and wellbeing.” SFU | Metro News

WBF and NorQuest create pre-trades program for Aboriginal women

NorQuest College and trades-training organization Women Building Futures (WBF) have partnered to provide academic readiness training for women in Edmonton. The program is designed with a focus on supporting Aboriginal women during their studies, but is open to all women interested in writing their trades entrance exam. WBF will be responsible for delivering curriculum, instruction, and support, while NorQuest is providing facility space and referrals. “This program is designed specifically to address the needs of Aboriginal women who are struggling to meet the academic entrance requirements for many of WBF’s pre-trades training programs,” said Corey Wells, WBF Aboriginal Engagement Advisor. NorQuest

BC names recipients of recent funding for skills training programs

BC has announced recipients of more than $1.1 M in funding through the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund for skills and employment readiness training. In Fort Nelson, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology will receive $314 K to provide job/college readiness training to members of the Fort Nelson and Prophet River First Nations. NVIT will also deliver the existing “Pathways to Success” employment skills program to members of the Blueberry River First Nation, and members of the Halfway River First Nation will have access to a modified version of the same program that focuses on careers in health and wellness. More than $400 K has been directed to the Pathways program. The Tsay Keh Dene Nation will receive $323 K for its Workforce Development Initiative, which delivers a range of training and certification programs. Lastly, more than $50 K is committed for Class 1 and 4 driver’s training for members of the Doig River First Nation. BC | Energetic City