Indigenous Top Ten

June 29, 2016

AB educators to receive training on Indigenous cultures and perspectives

Alberta has signed an agreement and committed funding to ensure that all teachers and administrators in the province get the opportunity to learn about teaching Indigenous issues. Representatives from participating organizations signed the Joint Commitment to Action, which will see almost $5.4M spent in the next three years on professional development for teachers, administrators, and other school staff. The training will not be mandatory but will be encouraged for all educators in the public school system as well as certified teachers who work in private, charter, and First Nations schools. AB also recently announced a six-year project to rework curriculum that includes incorporating First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories and perspectives. The signatories of the Joint Commitment to Action include Alberta Education, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta Association of Deans of Education, the Alberta School Boards Association, the Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortia, the College of Alberta School Superintendents, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

AB (Commitment) | AB (Curriculum) | Edmonton Journal | CBC

UQAT creates School of Indigenous Studies

Université du Quèbec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) has officially established its School of Indigenous Studies. The new department is dedicated solely to Aboriginal research and teaching and comes as a result of more than 20 years of partnership with local Aboriginal peoples, which UQAT regards as central to the institution’s development. The introduction of this department aligns with UQAT’s strategic mission to better support the success of its Aboriginal students. According to Hugo Asselin, inaugural Director of the school, “the creation of the School of Indigenous Studies confirms UQAT's leadership and gives us latitude to further develop teaching at all cycles and research for, by, and with our Aboriginal partners.”

UQuébec (FR) | UQAT (EN)

New survey shows Canadian teachers need more resources to teach Indigenous content

A new survey of Canadian teachers conducted by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) has found a need for quality resources relating to the inclusion of Indigenous history and perspectives in the classroom. The pan-Canadian survey asked teachers about their awareness of Indigenous initiatives and resources in their schools and their confidence in their ability to teach Indigenous issues. Of the nearly 1,900 respondents, only 17% indicated they were “very confident” they would have the knowledge base necessary to implement curriculum on Aboriginal content, while 45% and 35% said they were “somewhat confident” or “not confident at all,” respectively. 38% of respondents said professional development and training related to integrating Aboriginal perspectives into the curriculum were insufficient at their school.

CTF | Full Report

Institutions mark National Aboriginal Day with dedicated spaces, art

To celebrate National Aboriginal Day last week, several PSE institutions revealed new Indigenous spaces and artworks. Mohawk College officially opened its new Indigenous Gathering Space—called Hoop Dance—an outdoor structure designed to provide space for classes, events, and ceremonies. Hoop Dance is surrounded by a garden of traditional plants and medicines. Simon Fraser University also celebrated a new space for Indigenous students and community members. The Aboriginal Gathering Space in the Faculty of Education at SFU is the first of several initiatives planned, which include a memorial garden and outdoor space. In addition, York University unveiled a “monumental sculpture” of an Inuit soccer player designed and created by Inuit artists. The sculpture was carved out of a 26-tonne boulder and was funded by the SSHRC-supported Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage project, which aims to recover, preserve, document, facilitate, and disseminate Inuit traditional knowledge and creativity.

YorkU | SFU | Mohawk | Hamilton Spectator

New audio systems in Qikiqtani classrooms helping students

An organization that won $300K in last year’s Arctic Inspiration contest is using its winnings to improve education for children in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region. Better Hearing in Education for Northern Youth (BHENY) developed an audio amplification system called Phonak Digimaster that uses a clip-on microphone and speakers to better amplify educators’ voices. Many children in the North experience some form of hearing loss and the wait to see an audiologist can take years. BHENY’s system allows all students to better hear their teacher and each other, leading to improved literacy and social skills. The organization is currently working with schools in the region to install equipment; all of Qikiqtani’s elementary classrooms should be outfitted by 2017.

Nunatsiaq Online

Canadore to lead Indigenous research projects with ONCAT support

The Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer has announced that it will fund and launch two new projects focusing on Indigenous education to be led by Canadore College. With the support of $200K from ONCAT, the college will work closely with the First Nations Technical Institute and Seven Generations Education Institute to study Indigenous-focused programming and mobility across ON. The first project aims to compile information on Indigenous program offerings and transfer options across the province, while the second will seek to develop two multi-entry and laddered pathways into health and business postsecondary programs. “These projects will not only explore ways to build additional pathways but, more importantly, [will] expand educational opportunities for Indigenous students,” said Lia Quickert, acting Executive Director of ONCAT.


BC renews Aboriginal Enhancement Agreements

BC has signed a series of new Aboriginal Education Agreements with school divisions across the province. The five-year agreements are designed to foster Aboriginal student success and a sense of belonging. The four districts to sign recently—Peace River North school district (SD 60), Peace River South school district (SD 59), North Vancouver school district (SD 44), and Arrow Lakes school district (SD 10)—have all reported increases in graduation rates during the period of previous agreements. BC’s education ministry reports that the six-year graduation rate for Aboriginal students in the province has increased from 39% to 63% since 2000. The enhancement agreements are designed in collaboration with school divisions, parents, councils, communities, and Aboriginal organizations.

BC (1) | BC (2) | BC (3) | BC (4)

Indigenous education gap costs SK more than $1B per year, says report

The education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Saskatchewan costs the province more than $1B every year, according to a new report. The report also indicates that the gap in educational achievement remains the most significant barrier to raising Indigenous participation in the SK economy. “Making sure that we’re moving the needle in terms of the education, and closing that education gap, will ultimately affect employment (in Saskatchewan),” said Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority President Alex Fallon. University of Saskatchewan economist Eric Howe explained that closing the Indigenous education gap could bring up to $90B in economic benefits to SK over the lifespan of its current population.


BC provides funding for Aboriginal student programs

British Columbia is providing 14 public colleges and universities with over $1M in one-time funding to develop and expand programs benefiting Aboriginal students. Each postsecondary institution will receive $75K to develop new and expanded programs and services for the purposes of ensuring that public postsecondary institutions are welcoming learning environments for Aboriginal students. According to a BC release, these programs and services include Elders-in-residence, Aboriginal history and culture workshops for faculty and staff, and outreach to Aboriginal students and communities. “This funding is aligned with our government’s plan to ensure Aboriginal students are prepared to take advantage of job opportunities in our growing economy,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.


Canadian universities increasingly offering dedicated supports for Indigenous students

Universities Canada recently conducted a survey of the programs and services specifically designed for Indigenous students at universities across the country, finding that 86% of institutions now offer targeted support services such as academic counselling and peer mentoring. In addition, 69% of Canadian universities offer programs to help Indigenous students transition to higher education. “Education is an important pathway to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada,” said Paul Davidson, President of Universities Canada. “By working together with Indigenous leaders, communities and scholars, universities have made important changes to support access and success for Indigenous students in higher education. But more must be done.” The organization used survey results to update its online directory of programs and services available for Indigenous students. 

Universities Canada | Online Directory