Indigenous Top Ten

April 6, 2016

Concern over lack of Indigenous PSE funding in 2016 budget

Responses to the new federal budget have been mixed, with critics expressing disappointment over the budget’s failure to provide funding for Indigenous postsecondary students. While many have acknowledged the importance of the $8.4 B that the budget commits to Indigenous initiatives, critics — including First Nations leaders, Indigenous students, and student groups — point to the lack of new funds for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which provides financial assistance to First Nations and Inuit college and university students. However, some groups applauded the budget and its contributions to Indigenous education. The presidents of the three Canadian territorial colleges welcomed the $3.9 M funding extension for Northern Adult Basic Education in NT, NU, and YK. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the budget was a “significant step in closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations peoples and Canadians and beginning the process of reconciliation.”

AFN | APTN | CBC | Territorial Colleges | Indspire | CFS | CASA 


UAlberta’s Augustana Campus creates new Indigenous gathering place

The University of Alberta has opened a new Indigenous gathering place at its Augustana Campus. The new Wahkohtowin Lodge — referring to the Nehiyaw (Plains Cree) concept meaning “kinship” — provides space for students to study, socialize, and access cultural and academic supports. Wahkohtowin Lodge was created in consultation with Aboriginal students and local Elders and incorporates design features that reflect the natural surroundings. Non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to visit the gathering space to learn more about Indigenous cultures and histories; honouring relationships and working in a spirit of reconciliation are key themes embraced by the organizers. “Students succeed best when they feel a deep and abiding bond with their peers, their professors, and ultimately, their campus … the university must be a place that fosters a sense of belonging,” said UAlberta President David Turpin.

UAlberta | Alberta Native News

NunatuKavut schools to include cultural component

The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) has announced funding for the re-introduction of the Traditional Life Skills Program in schools within the NunatuKavut territory. The program uses hands-on learning to teach students southern Inuit culture and traditional skills such as snowshoe making and living on the land. NCC has also announced that it was creating a new Department of Education, Research and Culture within the organization that will work closely with the education system, schools, and communities to implement the life skills program. The new department will work to ensure that southern Inuit culture and history is accurately reflected in curriculum and will also coordinate and conduct research initiatives that affect the territory and its people.


ON First Nations sign agreements with local colleges

St Lawrence College and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne have signed an updated agreement that ensures their continued collaboration on community-based program delivery. SLC programs are available through the Iohahi:io Akwesasne Adult Education and Training Centre, which provides a range of postsecondary and adult education programs based on economic assessments and community need. The agreement also includes a new archaeology pathway opportunity for Akwesasne students through an articulation agreement SLC has with the State University of New York at Potsdam. A similar agreement was recently signed between Lambton College and the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation that will launch a new satellite entrepreneurship office in the community. The office will be an extension of Lambton’s on-campus incubator, The Cube, and will provide resources and one-on-one support services for community members.

SLC | Lambton | London Free Press

UNBC joins UBC’s Indigitization initiative to preserve recordings

The University of Northern British Columbia has joined UBC’s “Indigitization” project, an initiative that aims to preserve historic analogue recordings in digital format. The focus is on archiving and preserving existing audio recordings of speeches by Elders and community members as well as recordings of First Nations languages. The Indigitization program provides a toolkit and professional support to help First Nations convert audiotapes to digital media. Communities receive training in analogue audio conversion and assessing, documenting, and managing community recording collections — the emphasis is on helping communities manage their own heritage and language resources. UNBC is in the process of reaching out to local First Nations to encourage participation. | Indigitization Website

Indigenous youth take part in community-based research

An innovative project is allowing two youths from the Kluane First Nation in Yukon to travel to Ontario and conduct research that will have a direct impact on their home community. The project is a partnership between the Kluane First Nation, the Arctic Institute of Community Based Research (AICBR), and researchers from Western University and the University of Waterloo. Because traditional food sources such as large game have become scarce in their region, community members have increasingly begun to rely on fish for sustenance. The students harvested trout and whitefish from Kluane Lake and will work with the researchers to examine the fish and test for mercury and other contaminants. “Youth are a focus in all of our projects, and this project is an excellent example of youth being trained in both traditional knowledge and scientific approaches,” said Norma Kassi, Director of Indigenous Collaboration at AICBR. Indigenous filmmaker Tookie Mercredi is filming the research process for a documentary called “Nourishing Our Future,” to be produced by Kassi.

WesternU | uWaterloo | The Record

Heiltsuk culture camp contributing to academic success, engagement

Members of the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella, BC are praising a long-standing culture camp for youth that they credit with connecting children to culture and contributing to academic success. The Qqs Projects Society, a local non-profit that aims to instil youth with strength and resilience, runs the Koeye culture camp and a variety of spin off programs. Qqs — pronounced “kucks” — is the Heiltsuk word for “eyes,” because the program’s objective is to “open the eyes of young people to their responsibility as stewards of the Heiltsuk environment and culture.” Everything Qqs does is grounded in culture, with a combination of Western and traditional knowledge. The Heiltsuk control their own school and have a graduation rate of 80%; students who have been through Qqs programs are more likely to complete a postsecondary program. “There is a commitment from our young people to learn,” said Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett.

Globe and Mail

School division changes the way it tracks Indigenous students

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) in Hamilton, ON has updated the way it tracks Indigenous students in order to generate data that is both fair and accurate. The board’s annual report will now track students by their secondary cohort, or the year they entered grade 9. Additionally, Indigenous students will no longer be compared to the broader student population, as the board can’t assume that the students who self-identify are representative of all Indigenous students in the district. “It isn’t a fair comparison to look at this small subset and compare it to the broader [student] population and try to extrapolate trends,” said Superintendent Sharon Stephanian. Previous reports tracked Indigenous students in ten categories and compared them to board- and province-wide results. In the updated format, Indigenous students will be tracked by four indicators: those who met the literacy requirement; those who fulfilled 40 hours of community service; those on track to complete high school credits; and those who missed 20 or more days of school.

The Spectator

Aboriginal learners look to tech sector for employment opportunities

A second cohort of students in New Brunswick have completed an intensive IT training program where they learned to develop apps for both Apple and Android mobile devices. The Mobile Application Development (MAD) program is a partnership between NB’s francophone community college network and the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) — an Aboriginal, not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering Aboriginal economic development in the area. Graduates of the accelerated program are pleased with the many employment opportunities that they are encountering. Aboriginal learners in BC will also soon have access to a tech-focused program, as the province recently announced $515 K for a pilot program designed to grow Aboriginal participation in the growing technology sector. The Bridging to Technology program is part of a larger strategy by the First Nations Technology Council, which will support First Nations in BC to access economic development opportunities and tech-based careers. The pilot program will be delivered in partnership with Seabird College, Coastal Training Centre, Microsoft, Lighthouse Labs, and the All Nations Trust Company.

CBC | BC | Vancouver Sun | FNTC

NorQuest celebrates first year of Aboriginal career centre

NorQuest College is celebrating the first year of its Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centre (AACCC). The centre was established last year through a partnership between NorQuest, Bow Valley College, government, industry, and Aboriginal groups. Jonathan Robb, NorQuest Director of Strategic Integration and Stakeholder Relations, reports that AACCC significantly surpassed its initial goal of training 150 people for careers in the construction industry, with 551 individuals accessing training. In addition, 320 of the people who sought assistance at the centre were successfully placed in jobs. The centre focuses on training Aboriginal learners, but is available to people of all backgrounds. Of the people who completed training in the first year, 24% were female and 81% were of Aboriginal descent. Robb praised the centre’s job-coaching model and collaborations with industry and employment agencies as reasons for student success.