Indigenous Top Ten

March 9, 2016

Mohawk receives $1.25 M for Indigenous education initiatives

The Ontario government has committed $1.25 M to Mohawk College for a number of Indigenous education initiatives. The college will use the funds to develop a regional Indigenous education plan with local school boards and communities based on Mohawk's Bundled Arrows initiative. Bundled Arrows is guided by Indigenous knowledge and aims to create multiple pathways between high school and postsecondary education. Mohawk will also share best practices among Aboriginal Education Councils in the province and will continue to deliver on its commitment to Indigenous students attending the college. Funding for the initiatives has come through ON’s Targeted Initiatives Fund, which “supports innovative and thoughtful approaches to helping Aboriginal learners achieve successful outcomes.” Mohawk

UCN partners with First Nation to open community library

University College of the North (UCN) has partnered with the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in northern Manitoba to establish the UCN/Pukatawagan Public Library, housed in the Sakastew School. This is the third public library partnership UCN has formed; existing libraries are in Norway House Cree Nation and Chemawawin Cree Nation. Dean of Library Services Stan Gardner noted, “public libraries can become the living, breathing heart of a community … It is more than just books, but a thriving community centre …” A recent feature by Maclean’s magazine looked at how UCN ensures Aboriginal learners are supported both at school and in their personal lives by providing family housing, daycare spots, and cultural and academic services. UCN operates two main campuses in The Pas and Thompson as well as 12 regional centres across northern MB. UCN | Maclean’s

UoGuelph to hire Aboriginal professors, increase scholarships

In response to the final report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the University of Guelph plans to hire five Aboriginal professors in tenure-track positions and boost graduate scholarships for Aboriginal students. The hiring and scholarships won’t be limited to any faculty or discipline, said UoGuelph Provost Charlotte Yates, who believes that there is a moral responsibility for universities to respond to the TRC report. In addition to the faculty positions and the creation of five new graduate scholarships, the school will create two undergraduate research awards, one postdoctoral fellowship, and a year-long artist-in-residence position. “This project will increase knowledge creation by Aboriginal scholars and encourage training of the next generation of scholars,” Yates said, adding that attracting and supporting Aboriginal students and researchers will benefit individual students and the entire campus. UoGuelph | Guelph Mercury CBC

Indigenous women out-earn other women with postsecondary degrees

While First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women are less likely to have postsecondary degrees than other Canadian women, those who do are likely to earn, on average, slightly more than their non-Indigenous counterparts with the same level of education, says a new Statistics Canada study. The study, based on data from the 2011 National Household Survey, also found that the employment gap between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal women was reduced as education level attainment increased. The rate of employment among Aboriginal women who had at least a bachelor’s degree was 81.8%, compared with 79.5% for other Canadian women with similar credentials. “When people get the opportunity for an excellent education, they do extraordinarily well,” said Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde agreed, pointing to the lengthy wait list for postsecondary funding as a barrier to many Indigenous learners. StatCan (1) | StatCan (2) | Globe and Mail | CBC | Nunatsiaq Online

Yukon College and uRegina offer new post-degree pathway

Yukon College and the University of Regina have expanded their Bachelor of Education/Yukon Native Teacher Education Program to offer a new after-degree pathway. Qualified applicants with bachelor’s degrees in other areas will now be able to apply for entrance into the third year of the BEd program. The expansion will help fill the spaces created in upper years by low enrolment and student status changes. In addition, students not enrolled in the BEd program will be able to take certain education courses in order to explore teaching as a career. “This has been something potential applicants to the program have wanted for some time and we are pleased that our request to the University of Regina Senate to create a more flexible and diverse program has been approved,” said Yukon Dean of Applied Arts Andrew Richardson. Yukon

Contact North | Contact Nord highlights success of Aboriginal students

Contact North | Contact Nord has released a series of Aboriginal student success stories to highlight the institution’s focus on supporting Aboriginal learners in northern Ontario. The 21 featured students accessed educational programs online through Contact North | Contact Nord online learning centres located across the region. The learners discuss the challenges they faced during their education as well as their successes while pursuing degrees, diplomas, certificates, and skills upgrading. “The collaboration between community, students and local Contact North | Contact Nord online learning centres is apparent in these stories and stands as a model for building capacity within Indigenous communities around the world,” reads a news release. Contact North | Document

First Nation school infrastructure projects get support from feds

The federal government has announced support for a number of First Nation school infrastructure projects. The first agreement is a Partnership Understanding with four Manitoba First Nations that will see the communities work together with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada towards addressing school infrastructure needs. Partners will collaboratively conduct feasibility studies into the infrastructure needs and will develop possible solutions based on centralized project management and bundled procurement of supplies and labour. Additionally, the government announced funding for nine First Nation-led school facility projects, which will use innovative approaches to school construction including bundling projects and contracts, employing modular and pre-fabricated construction, and using alternative financing measures. Canada (partnership) | Canada (funding)

New youth-led report says justice system failing Aboriginal youth

According to a new report released by Ontario’s Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the Canadian justice system is failing Aboriginal youth and communities and is viewed by many Aboriginal youth as “intimidating, foreign, unjust, and discriminating.” The report, Feathers of Hope: Justice and Juries — A First Nations Youth Action Plan for Justice, is the result of a youth forum held in Thunder Bay in 2014 and follows an earlier youth-led action plan. The report explores a lack of knowledge and awareness about the Canadian justice system among Aboriginal youth, acknowledging the differences between traditional Indigenous systems of healing and restoration and the justice system’s focus on punishment and blame. The report also discusses the youth’s perception of the racism and stereotyping that often accompany encounters with the justice system. The report makes almost 40 recommendations to improve the relationship between Aboriginal communities and the justice system, including increased education about Indigenous culture and history for police and justice officials, and better education for youth and communities about the legal and justice systems. Provincial Advocate | Full Report

Exchange agreement between VIU and STU creates opportunities for Aboriginal students

Through an exchange agreement, Vancouver Island University and St Thomas University in New Brunswick are creating opportunities for Aboriginal students to learn about Aboriginal cultures and traditions from across Canada. “It’s something that we want to encourage because we know these study opportunities broaden perspectives and that immersing yourself in another community can teach so much,” said Steve Lane, VIU’s AVP of Academic Planning and Aboriginal Initiatives. STU student Keyaira Gruben added, “before I came [to VIU from STU,] I wasn’t aware of just how many services there were for Aboriginal students and how integrated First Nations culture would be on VIU’s campus.” The agreement will begin with two students going each way every year, creating opportunities for them to gain life experience in a new part of Canada while pursuing their education. The two institutions are also discussing future opportunities for faculty exchanges. VIU

AB students partner on unique art project about reconciliation

Students from the Blood Reserve recently partnered with students from a Calgary middle school on a reconciliation-themed art project. Students in grades 5–9 from Sir John Franklin School in Calgary and grades 6–8 from Tatsikiisaapo’p Middle School (TMS) first researched current and historic Aboriginal issues before starting a variety of artworks; the art was “half-created” before students exchanged the pieces and finished the work started by the partner school. The artworks will be on display and for sale at Calgary’s Studio C gallery until March 30th under the name Aa’sitapiwa – All the Young People. “It’s been healing for my students, and a great place of understanding for [the Calgary-based] students. That for me is accomplishing the goal through truth and reconciliation,” said Andrea Fox, art program instructor at TMS. “This has been a real true way to really teach what truth and reconciliation is actually about by the students experiencing it themselves.” Lethbridge Herald