Indigenous Top Ten

April 20, 2016

Supreme Court decision recognizes Métis and Non-Status Indigenous people under Constitution

Last week’s unanimous Supreme Court decision to recognize Métis and other non-status Indigenous people as "Indians" under the 1867 Constitution will open opportunities for dialogue around Métis rights to housing, healthcare, and education, according to a number of stakeholders. Decades of political “hot potato” between the federal and provincial governments left Métis and non-status peoples in a legal limbo, said Métis writer and educator Chelsea Vowel. The Daniels decision means that Métis and non-status groups can now negotiate with the federal government regarding things like funding through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program or Métis Nation land claims. The decision “allows First Nations to welcome back the citizens previously lost under colonial laws and policies. The decision should help remove barriers to progress and break down the old colonial thinking. A new nation-to-nation relationship based on rights and respect is an essential part of reconciliation, and good for all of Canada,” said National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde.

AFN | | Globe and Mail | CBC | CFS

uSask launches Aboriginal Career Start program, president commits to indigenization in annual address

The University of Saskatchewan has launched the new Aboriginal Career Start program in an effort to provide practical experience and training to Aboriginal students. Sixteen graduates from the Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic will receive paid, on-the-job training in a variety of university departments, such as financial services and human resources. uSask President Peter Stoicheff said that the initiative is designed to increase the number of Aboriginal staff members that work on campus and also to help ensure communities have well-trained Aboriginal people working in them. Stoicheff recently gave a university address, stating he will do everything in his power to encourage cultural inclusion for Indigenous people on his school's campus. His plans reportedly include creating an Indigenous engagement vice-provost position and an Elders advisory council.

uSask (Program) | uSask (Address) | StarPhoenix | Eagle Feather News | CBC

ONECA launches Virtual Tours initiative to expand support for Aboriginal learners

The Ontario Native Education Counselling Association (ONECA) is expanding its Transitions initiative with virtual tours of Aboriginal support services at postsecondary institutions in Ontario. ONECA’s Transitions project provides resources to support students during educational transitions. A team from ONECA will travel to PSE institutions and Aboriginal institutes to collect information on the programs and services offered at each location. Video footage of Aboriginal student centres or gathering spaces will accompany the information, allowing learners to “tour” the Aboriginal supports available at an institution. The new resources will also help parents and counsellors support students during the transition to PSE by making information easily accessible. ONECA’s mission is to make the videos “dynamic, interactive, and inviting so that [Aboriginal] students become more excited about postsecondary education and have more information about the supports available to them before they make the ‘big leap,’” said Transitions Coordinator Daniella Robinson.

Anishnabek News | Transitions website

New Blackfoot language app created by Siksika teacher

A teacher from the Siksika Nation in Alberta has created an app to teach people the Blackfoot language. Vivian Ayoungman, who teaches at Old Sun Community College, wanted a way to attract young people to the language that makes it convenient for them to learn. The “Blackfoot” app includes 500 phrases in 29 categories, written in Blackfoot and translated to English. The program emphasizes sentences over individual words in order to increase fluency and convey the descriptive nature of the language. The app also has games, quizzes, and a section on Siksika culture and history. The app is currently available for Apple devices.

CBC | Metro News

Canada invests in Aboriginal law enforcement training program

A new Aboriginal Community Safety Officer training program is under development that will provide future police officers with an introduction to the issues around law enforcement in Indigenous communities. The program, reportedly the first of its kind in Canada, is a partnership between the Canadian Centre of Public Safety Excellence, Holland College, Fort Nelson First Nation, and the Kiamauga Corporation and will be delivered through Holland’s Atlantic Police Academy. An advisory panel of Elders and others from Fort Nelson will ensure that the curriculum is responsive to cultural sensitivities; the program will cover a wide range of subject areas including cultural issues, control tactics, use of force, law, sociology, psychology, communications, security issues, community leadership, and occupational health. Graduates will be able to continue on and pursue training in law enforcement or work with police departments and First Nations to improve police services in Indigenous communities. The federal government is providing $206,205 for the new program through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program.

Canada | CBC

How Canadian universities are moving to indigenize the academy

Many Canadian universities are undertaking processes of indigenization in an effort to bring Indigenous peoples and their cultures into PSE strategy, governance, academics, research, and recruitment, writes Moira MacDonald forUniversity Affairs. Indigenizing the academy is “really about transforming the university at its very core,” said Shauneen Pete, associate professor of education and executive lead for indigenization at the University of Regina. “It’s about recentring Indigenous world views as a starting point for that transformation and it’s a process of institutional decolonization.” MacDonald notes that this process does not and must not look identical at every institution, as differences in programs, demographics, and histories exist that must inform indigenization strategies. The article includes summaries of the many indigenization initiatives and projects underway at Canadian colleges and universities.

University Affairs

SK holds first provincial spelling bee for Indigenous youth

Indigenous youth from across Saskatchewan recently had the opportunity to participate in the First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee, reportedly the first of its kind in the province. The competition was hosted by Chief Poundmaker School and held in North Battleford, where 130 Indigenous youth ages 6–14 took part in the spelling bee. The event was “not just [about] spelling but includes other benefits such as promoting literacy, expanding vocabulary, and enhancing study skills,” said organizer Pauline Favel. As part of the Spelling Bee of Canada, winners from each of three age categories will travel to the national competition in Toronto.

CBC (1) | CBC (2) | SK

ON announces recipients of Youth Opportunities Fund

Ontario has announced the recipients of funding through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Fund, which targets youth-led grassroots groups and community-based organizations that focus on youth that are at-risk, low income, Aboriginal, racialized, recent immigrants, LGBTTQ, and/or youth with special needs. A total of more than $7.75 M will go towards the 31 projects that received funding, all intended to engage and support youth aged 12–25. A number of funded community projects will provide space and resources for Indigenous students to gather and attend workshops or extracurricular programs. Six Nations Polytechnic will receive $900 K over four years to develop a youth ambassador model program that will foster cultural resilience, identity, and self-confidence. The initiative will focus on youth aged 13–24, with funds used for staffing, curriculum development, and the mobilization and training of youth ambassadors.

Brantford Expositor | OTF | Full List of Recipients

YK budget commits to improving northern and Aboriginal education

The Yukon government recently tabled its 2016–17 territorial budget, which invests in several programs and initiatives that will benefit northern and Indigenous learners. Among other initiatives, the budget sets aside $100 per student for school supplies, funding for more education assistants at YK schools, and $1.5 M over three years to support Yukon College’s transition to a university. Proposed amendments to the Student Financial Assistance Act and additional funds will improve the Yukon Grant to increase access for financial support for YK First Nations learners. Yukon College will also receive funding to continue the Practical Nurse diploma program for four years and for needed infrastructure improvements and renovations. Further, the budget highlights $4.2 M for reconciliation with First Nations, although some representatives of local Aboriginal communities suggest they were not consulted about this funding, which they say does not follow the calls to action of the TRC.

YK Budget Highlights | YK (Amendments) | YK (Nursing) | YK College | APTN | YK (Renovations)

ON universities partner with Aboriginal institutions to create pathways for learners

Two new partnerships will provide additional pathways for Aboriginal learners to access postsecondary training in Ontario. Nipissing University has signed articulation agreements with AFOA Canada that will provide graduates of AFOA’s Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM) diploma program with credits towards Nipissing’s BBA or BComm degree programs. AFOA recently formed a similar partnership with Cape Breton University. Brock University and the Weengushk Film Institute also signed an agreement, one that will open avenues for students from both institutions. The new arrangement will see Brock offer an 8-month certificate in film production that is taught at Weengushk, located on the M’Chigeeng First Nation. Students who complete the program will receive credits towards a degree at Brock if they wish to continue their education. Through the new partnership, Brock will also offer an intensive 3-week film production course this spring at Weengushk, the first time the course has been offered off campus. The spring course is open to Brock’s film students and for the first time, students in other programs and from other institutions.

AFOA | Brock | Weengushk | Erie Media | Manitoulin Expositor