Indigenous Top Ten

February 10, 2016

Aboriginal university students encourage peers to pursue higher education

Thirteen Aboriginal Canadians who have gone to university are urging others to do the same through the “Let’s Take Our Future Further” campaign sponsored by the Council of Ontario Universities. The campaign consists of a new website with profiles and video testimonials that aim to inspire Aboriginal youth to see the benefits of higher education. The initiative “will also help the public see Aboriginal [peoples] as contributing to the larger community,” said Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo, Director of Aboriginal Student Services at the University of Toronto, who added that a lack of role models, especially in STEM fields, is a key barrier to Aboriginal people pursuing higher education. “If you don’t see yourself reflected in the field, or in the curriculum, or among the teaching faculty, the likelihood of going into these fields decreases.” The new website also provides information on Ontario’s universities and a number of resources available to support Aboriginal learners. COU | Toronto Star | Nunatsiaq Online | Campaign Website

FNIGC and Algonquin develop first-ever OCAP training course

The First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) has partnered with Algonquin College to develop a new online training course called “The Fundamentals of OCAP.” The course is reportedly the first to deal solely with the First Nations principles of ownership, control, access, and possession (OCAP), considered the gold standard of how to collect, protect, use, and share First Nations data. The online course consists of seven modules and a short test; learners who complete the test successfully will receive a statement of achievement from Algonquin. The course is designed for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, researchers, educators, government employees, and anyone interested in Indigenous information governance issues. FNIGC

New report recommends incremental improvements for on-reserve schools

A new report released by the CD Howe Institute suggests reforms are needed to address the low performance rates of on-reserve schools. The report, titled “Students in Jeopardy: An Agenda for Improving Results in Band-Operated Schools,” makes seven recommendations to help improve the graduation rates of students attending school on reserve, such as developing a feasible funding strategy with increased per-student funding, emphasizing outcomes and student success, promoting incremental improvement instead of “encompassing reforms,” and creating access to secondary supports including student counselling and staff development. The authors further suggest that reserve schools focus on “observable improvements in the results of language and culture programs as much as in core academic subjects,” with support from the federal government. CD Howe | Vancouver Sun | Full Report


Concordia leads multidisciplinary Initiative for Indigenous Futures project

A new initiative led by Concordia University will use workshops, symposia, residencies, and a digital archive to provide Indigenous youth with the opportunity to build their own futures. Concordia will work in partnership with postsecondary institutions, community and educational organizations, and independent artists from across Canada on the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF), which challenges youth to imagine their communities seven generations into the future. IIF will consist of four main components: the Skins Workshops on Aboriginal storytelling and digital media design, artist and professional residencies at Concordia, interdisciplinary symposia on the future imaginary, and the publicly accessible Aboriginal New Media Archive. The project received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Concordia | IIF


uAlberta launches UAlberta North to focus on northern research, education

The University of Alberta has launched UAlberta North, a new initiative that serves to replace the Canadian Circumpolar Institute with a fresh mandate. Though it will not formally be a research institute, the unit will “facilitate research and build profile for that work,” according to Director Roger Epp. The office will both facilitate large-scale collaborations and serve as an information hub to assist students studying in the North. “We want to be tightly aligned with university leadership to realize opportunities. But we also want to speak for the university when we are in northern communities, doing some of the diplomatic relationship-building,” added Epp. The initiative aims to foster relationships with governments and organizations in the North to increase dialogue and educational opportunities that honour Indigenous knowledge. uAlberta

uSask opens new Aboriginal student centre

The University of Saskatchewan has officially opened the new Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. The 1,884-square-metre building was designed by Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal as a home for the 2,200 Aboriginal students on campus and as a gathering place for the wider uSask community. “[This] is a centre for Aboriginal students but also a centre for non-Aboriginal students to meet and be part of Aboriginal ceremonies. That bringing together of traditions is of fundamental importance to the building,” said uSask President Peter Stoicheff. The new building was designed in consultation with Elders from the surrounding communities and reflects Indigenous building traditions. The centre faces south, according to local Cree principles, and the ceiling is painted in the four colours of the medicine wheel. Support services for Aboriginal students will be housed in the new centre, which also provides space for events and ceremonies.  uSask | StarPhoenix | Globe & Mail CBC


Six Nations Polytechnic to offer first standalone degree program

The Ontario government has granted Six Nations Polytechnic the ability to offer its first stand-alone degree program. The new Bachelor of Arts degree in Ogwehoweh (Cayuga and Mohawk) languages builds on the existing diploma partnership with McMaster University; students in the new degree program will now be able to complete their studies at Six Nations Polytechnic instead of transferring to a separate institution. This is reportedly the first time an Aboriginal-run institute in ON has been able to offer a stand-alone degree. The program also helps to preserve and promote Ogwehoweh languages as well as expanding the opportunities available to Indigenous learners in the area. “Six Nations Polytechnic is committed to creating an Indigenous environment that is grounded in culture and community, language, research, and academic quality, and this new degree program will help improve Indigenous learners’ access to, participation in, and completion of postsecondary education and training programs in ON,” said Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi. ON | CBC


Yukon College to offer Yukon First Nations 101 to local businesses, government

Yukon College and the Council of Yukon First Nations have partnered on the creation of the new Yukon First Nations 101 online course. The four-hour course is designed for service providers, businesses, and government employees who wish to better understand and work with Yukon First Nations. The course program will cover six key aspects: history, heritage and culture, governance, residential schools, contemporary topics, and worldviews. The course will be delivered by the college’s Northern Institute for Social Justice and is modelled on one developed for the college’s core competencyrequirement for students and faculty. Northwestel is the first corporate partner to sign up for the new course. Yukon College | CBC

Universities working to make Indigenous law part of legal education

The University of Victoria’s Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU), with funding from the .CA Community Investment Program, has developed a series of videos that explore Indigenous law and legal traditions. The goal of the series is to encourage respectful discussion and education around law and Indigenous-settler relations, covering topics such as introduction to Indigenous law; Indigenous law, gender, and sexuality; and tough questions in Indigenous law. Videos include reflections from scholars, community leaders, students, and activists working in the area of Indigenous law. The videos are available for free online. At the University of Manitoba, the Faculty of Law has recently re-committed to ensuring students receive instruction on Indigenous law. uManitoba already includes mandatory units on Aboriginal-Crown relations, Treaties, and Aboriginal rights and is now considering making knowledge of Indigenous legal traditions a required core competency. UVic | ILRU Videos | uManitoba

UBC law scholar wins bid for rights hearing after being denied tenure

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed the no-evidence motion put forward by UBC in the case of former UBC professor Lorna June McCue. According to the National Post, McCue was denied tenure and did not have her contract renewed by UBC in 2012, partially due to a failure to submit any peer-reviewed research during her term of employment. According to the Vancouver Sun, McCue claims that peer-reviewed research is contrary to Indigenous oral traditions, and that UBC’s research standard has thus discriminated against her “race, colour, ancestry, … and sex.” UBC lawyers have argued that “nothing about indigeneity ... prevents an Indigenous person from having the capability of meeting the university’s requirements.” With the dismissal of the no-evidence motion, the BC Human Rights Tribunal will now move to a full hearing of McCue's case. National Post | Ubyssey | Inside Higher Ed