Indigenous Top Ten

March 23, 2016

Liberals release first federal budget, invest in First Nations education

The federal government has released the first budget of its mandate, committing a total of $8.4 B over five years for Indigenous peoples. In addition to investments in child and family services, the inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women, and on-reserve infrastructure, the budget has earmarked $2.6 B over five years for K–12 First Nations education. In the first year, $96 M will go towards school infrastructure on reserves and $287.5 M will go towards core K–12 education at First Nation schools, including $115 M for special needs education, $55 M for language and cultural teaching, and $20 M for literacy and numeracy. Of the total investment, $824 M over five years is for “implementing transformation” of the on-reserve education system, with $46 M of that to be spent this year. The budget also removes the 2% overall spending cap that has previously affected funding for Indigenous peoples. 2016 BudgetCBC (Budget) | CBC (FNMI) | APTN | National Post


uManitoba launches Indigenous knowledge-based MSW

The University of Manitoba has announced the creation of a new Master of Social Work based in Indigenous Knowledges (MSW-IK). The program is reportedly the first of its kind in the province and one of three in the country, and is “aimed at deconstructing oppressive and colonialist structures and reconstructing in a contemporary sense what has been previously destroyed.” Students will be supported holistically during the program by Elders and advisors, and will receive instruction grounded in Indigenous knowledge from both faculty and Indigenous knowledge keepers. Students will be assessed on their ability to address the holistic needs of Indigenous peoples and communities as well as their capacity to “recognize and form meaningful connections between social work and Indigenous ways of knowing.” The first intake of 18 students will begin in fall 2016. uManitoba | The Manitoban

FSIN signs agreement to improve science education for Indigenous students

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has signed an agreement with the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan to work together to enhance science education for First Nations students. The two organizations will collaborate on events and visits to First Nations schools designed to introduce youth to the fields of math and science and to encourage postsecondary training and education in related fields. Through the agreement, educators at FSIN schools will be invited to attend workshops at CLS and experience the scientific research currently being conducted in areas including cancer, the environment, agriculture, archaeology, history, and nuclear science. The agreement acknowledges the importance of maintaining a focus on culture and Indigenous knowledge within science education. uSask

BC announces resource guide, funding for Aboriginal job seekers

The BC government has released a new resource to help connect Aboriginal job seekers, especially youth, with fulfilling careers. BC’s Career Guide for Aboriginal People offers information and advice on education programs, funding, searching for jobs, and building a support system. The guide also contains resume, cover letter, and budget samples and tips on school-to-work transitions. The guide will be available throughout the province at employment centres, Aboriginal Friendship Centres, band offices, postsecondary institutions, and online. BC also recently announced $2 M over three years to support skills training for off-reserve Aboriginal people in urban communities in northern BC. The project will be administered by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, which will establish employment hubs in seven Friendship Centres to provide pre-employment training. Job-placement coordinators at the centres will support learners and work to develop networks of training providers and employers. BC (Guide) | Career Guide | BC (Funding) | Prince George Citizen

Critics say QC’s new history curriculum fails to recognize Indigenous, immigrant histories

An early draft of Quebec’s revised high school history curriculum is being criticized for lacking diversity and failing to include elements of the province’s Indigenous and immigrant histories. The two-year course is being piloted at select schools this school year and will be implemented fully next year. The curriculum was originally developed under the previous Parti Québécois government and is being revised by the current Liberal government, which says that the course will undergo more changes before it is finalized. Educators and experts are concerned that the new history course focuses too much on English-French conflicts and neglects topics such as residential schools and the province’s Jewish community. Quebec Native Women (QNW) — which has previously petitioned the provincial government to include Indigenous history and that of residential schools — expressed its disappointment at the revised version’s “limited space allotted to the history of First Peoples in Quebec and Canada.” CBC (1) | CBC (2) | QNW | Winnipeg Free Press

Postscript: May 18, 2016

Quebec’s education minister has shelved plans to implement the new, controversial history curriculum after criticism that it did not include the perspectives of Aboriginal peoples and other minorities. The curriculum, developed under the previous QC government, was supposed to be implemented fully beginning in August 2016. Schools that had already been offering the revised program as a pilot project will continue to do so, but others will remain with the old curriculum. The province plans to launch consultations and revisit the curriculum with the goal “to make the course as representative and inclusive as possible.”

Montreal Gazette | CBC

Attendance on the rise due to culture class for First Nation students

A culture-based program for students in grades 7 and 8 is being credited for increased attendance and student engagement at Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. The Miyo Pimatsiwin program — meaning “good life” in Plains Cree — at Thunderchild’s Piyesiw Awasis School aims to bring the nation’s culture and history to the forefront of learning. Students participate in traditional activities such as ice fishing, bead working, and hide tanning, and then use that hands-on experience to learn topics including biology and anatomy. Thunderchild reports that attendance is up 20% in the four years the program has been running. The program connects students to their history and each other and encourages them to act as leaders; teachers are also challenged to approach their jobs in new ways. Miyo Pimatsiwin was developed in partnership with Thunderchild’s chief and council and is part of a larger plan to extend cultural programming through to grade 12. StarPhoenix

Northern ON colleges collaborate on local jobs for grads

Six colleges in northern Ontario are collaborating on StayNorth, a program that encourages new graduates to find employment in the local region instead of pursuing jobs in southern ON. The program is a part of the Study North Initiative by Confederation College, Sault College, Collège Boréal, Cambrian College, Northern College, and Canadore College. Students register online and complete a questionnaire about their education, experience, and location preferences. StayNorth works with employment agencies, employers, recruitment agencies, municipalities, chambers of commerce, and other organizations across various sectors to find employment opportunities for recent graduates. When a potential match is found, StayNorth facilitates an introduction between the employer and the job seeker. “Employers can have difficulty finding qualified employees and new grads aren’t always sure how to go about finding employment in their field,” says StayNorth Employment Liaison Officer Alex Rogerson. “StayNorth helps on both counts.” CBC | NetNewsLedger

UAlberta launches new page of Indigenous resources on website

The University of Alberta has developed a new web page that serves as a hub for Indigenous resources and information for and about Indigenous students, faculty, and initiatives. The new “Aboriginal/Indigenous Index of Web Links” is easily accessed from the university’s home page and provides links to news stories, programs, student services, research activities, community engagement, and policies and protocols. In addition to providing current and prospective students with easy access to information, it also serves to welcome Indigenous students by showing that they are an integral part of the UAlberta community, says Shana Dion, Director of the Aboriginal Student Services Centre. The new site also contains a link to the university’s collection of Indigenous resources for K–12 educators. UAlberta | Indigenous Index

Nunavut plans to revive law school in September 2017

Plans are on track to reinstate a law school in Nunavut, according to Education Minister Paul Quassa, who recently told the territorial legislature that the government is aiming for the program to begin in September 2017. The program will incorporate aspects of traditional Inuit law and knowledge from Elders and will emphasize the need for more legal experts fluent in an Inuit language. The law school is a partnership between Nunavut Arctic College and the territorial government, with support from the Nunavut Law Society and an accredited university in the South. The proposed program will be modelled on an earlier program designed to improve legal education in NU called the Akitsiraq Law School. Nunatsiaq Online | CBC

Queen’s and SLC receive funding for projects that will benefit Aboriginal learners

The Ontario government has announced funding for Queen’s University and St Lawrence College that will support the success of Aboriginal learners in the region. Queen’s will receive $42,719 in 2016–17 for its Self-Identification Project, which will develop Aboriginal student self-identification practices and improve the functionality of the student records system. Currently, Aboriginal students can self-identify during the application process; the project will expand that opportunity so Aboriginal students can choose to self-identify later during their education. At St Lawrence College, $107,608 over three years will go towards the Kickstart College program, which helps Aboriginal learners transition to postsecondary programs in the STEM fields. The funds are available through the Targeted Initiatives Fund, which follows through on the province’s 2015 commitment to provide stable funding to support Aboriginal learners. Queen’s | SLC