Indigenous Top Ten

September 7, 2016

uOttawa launches Indigenous law stream

The University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law has introduced an Indigenous law stream option to its common law program, starting this fall. Students will take an intensive course in their first year, called Maanaajitoon/Torts, which focuses on Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Dene, and Métis law in addition to common law. Instructors in other first-year courses—such as contracts, criminal, property, and constitutional law—will include Indigenous legal principles in the curriculum. Students will have the choice in their second year of continuing in the Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Legal Traditions option to further their specialization in Indigenous law. To facilitate the new program and assist with further implementation of the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, uOttawa has created the position of Indigenous Affairs Coordinator.


Educators offer advice on implementing Indigenous content and awareness

Two prominent educators have recently offered some advice for schools, educators, and governments as they work to implement Indigenous content and awareness. Charlene Bearhead, Education Lead at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, offers three simple tips for educators to foster reconciliation in schools: verbally acknowledge traditional territory; fly the flag of local Indigenous groups or Treaties; and visually acknowledge truth, people, and territory by posting a copy of the national apology for residential schools along with Indigenous artistic works or cultural images. John Stewart, Director of Instructional and School Services for the Northwest Territories education department, offers his advice to those working on the development of new curricula that includes Indigenous content. Stewart suggests involving residential school survivors in the creation of new lessons for the benefit of both students and their parents or guardians, who may themselves be affected by the legacy of residential schools. Stewart also recommends making trauma counsellors available to staff, students, and the wider community for support when discussing difficult topics.

uAlberta | Edmonton Journal 

Arctic College to create NU-based law degree program in partnership with uSask

Nunavut Arctic College, through the Government of Nunavut, has elected to partner with the University of Saskatchewan for the design and delivery of a new Nunavut-based law degree program. The goal of the project is to increase the number of lawyers practicing in NU while aligning with the territory’s strategic education goal to deliver relevant, needs-based education. The new program will also bring the total number of degree programs offered by NAC to three, which aligns with the territory’s mission to help more degree-seeking students study in NU. A curriculum for the new program will be developed over the next year, with the first cohort beginning in September 2017.


Queen’s releases preliminary report for TRC task force

A Queen's University task force has released a preliminary report in response to the calls to action outlined by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The report offers details on the information-gathering and consultation processes that the school will use for the initiative moving forward, and provides a non-exhaustive list of existing initiatives designed with the intention of supporting Aboriginal students, creating an inclusive community, and promoting awareness of Indigenous histories, perspectives, and knowledge. The task force will now work to evaluate strengths and weaknesses with the existing initiatives as well to as to identify gaps in resources or programming. “We want the process and final recommendations to be as comprehensive as possible, and this preliminary report is a step toward achieving that goal,” said Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf.

Queen’s | Report

Northern SK teaching program to lose funding

The Saskatchewan government plans to discontinue funding for a teacher education program in the province’s north, in order to “eliminate an overlap in postsecondary programming.” Based in La Ronge, the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) and its counterpart, the Northern Professional Access College, are affiliated with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan, providing a four-year education degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous studies to northern and Aboriginal students. NORTEP states it was informed that funding would end July 31, 2017; VP Administration Jennifer Malmsten assured students that programming is likely to continue and that changes would occur on an administrative level. SK Advanced Education Deputy Minister Louise Greenberg adds that students will continue to receive university-level training in La Ronge in a revised form. NORTEP and SK signed a funding agreement last year.

CBC | StarPhoenix | Global News

Partnership works to modernize, digitize Indigenous languages

In partnership with Seven Generations Education Institute, technology company SayITFirst is helping to modernize and digitize Indigenous languages to aid with preservation. SayITFirst works with fluent speakers, community members, language educators, and advocates to first modernize an Indigenous language by establishing words for new items and concepts, and then to digitize the language and produce books, audio recordings, and phone apps. Organizers involve cultural traditions in the development of the resources for a holistic approach. Educators are able to use the resources to teach language in the classroom and can encourage students to take the teachings home to their families.

The Agenda | SayITFirst

SLC, MCA, SUNY sign unique cross-border agreement benefiting Indigenous students

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has engaged in a cross-border partnership with St Lawrence College and the State University of New York at Potsdam that will help train Mohawk students to meet the need for archeological specialists in the St Lawrence area. MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict noted that there is a distinct need for archeological specialists in the region, “as the St Lawrence Seaway holds centuries of shared history.” Through the partnership, Mohawk students will first complete a General Arts and Sciences diploma from SLC, delivered by the Iohahi:io Education and Training Centre in Akwesasne. Students can then transfer into the junior year of a Bachelor of Arts in Archeological Studies at SUNY Potsdam.


NB releases new 10-year education plans

The New Brunswick government has released new 10-year education plans for both the English and French sectors. Priorities include establishing a culture of belonging, improving literacy and numeracy skills, ensuring proficiency in fundamental language skills, and fostering leadership, citizenship, and entrepreneurial spirit, said Education Minister Brian Kenny. Other goals include teaching First Nations history to all students and training all educators on First Nations history, traditions, and cultures. Currently only 15% of students are receiving instruction in Indigenous history and only 8% of educators are being trained. The government also wants to see 60% of students enrolled in Mi'kmaq and Wolastoq language courses by 2025, compared to the current 18%. The high-level plans do not yet provide information on funding or resources.

CBC | Sackville Tribune-Post

Cap on growth for federal Aboriginal PSE fund doesn’t keep up with rising tuition: report

Canada’s largest federal program for helping Aboriginal students pay for PSE faces a number of significant issues, according to a federal review from summer 2015. The Canadian Press reports that the 2015 review suggests that the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) requires more money than the currently mandated 2% annual growth cap provides, as this growth reportedly does not keep up with rising tuition prices. “It’s literally affecting the potential future in communities by limiting the access to education,” said NDP Indigenous Affairs Critic Charlie Angus. The federal government increased funding in its 2016 budget for Indigenous K–12 education, but did not increase funding to the PSSSP program.


Mandatory Indigenous programming signals new direction for Canada, writes The Guardian

“The adoption of mandatory Indigenous courses at two Canadian universities comes as Indigenous issues are increasingly in the spotlight in the country,” reads a recent article in UK-based The Guardian. The article outlines how decisions by the University of Winnipeg and Lakehead University to mandate Indigenous course requirements come at a time when the Canadian government has signalled that Indigenous issues will be one of its top priorities. While the implementation of such course mandates has involved challenges, Lakehead University Professor Peggy Smith says that “students are grateful to graduate with a sense of knowledge about Indigenous people and their role and relationships with lands and resources.” Smith’s classroom experience teaching a mandatory course, Aboriginal Peoples and Natural Resources, for third-year natural resource management students led her to join the push for the university to adopt an Indigenous content requirement. Kevin Settee, president of the uWinnipeg Students’ Association, noted that the Indigenous content is equally important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

The Guardian