Indigenous Top Ten

September 21, 2016

18% decline in First Nations students receiving federal support for PSE

The number of First Nations students in Canada receiving federal support for PSE has dropped 18% since 1997, according to documents obtained by the federal NDP through Access to Information. CBC reports that the First Nations population in Canada grew by 29% over this same period. The report comes in the wake of criticism directed at the federal government for not including a $50M increase to the Post-secondary Student Support Program in the federal budget that was pledged during the 2015 election campaign. “I'm shocked and saddened to see those numbers. I didn't realize it was that high,” Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde said in an interview with CBC. “This is not acceptable. It's just another missed opportunity to help close the socioeconomic gap that exists.” CBC

UBC to build Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

The University of British Columbia has announced that it will construct what it calls Canada’s first residential school history centre. A UBC release states that the centre will be located in the heart of UBC’s Point Grey campus, and will strive to recognize the experiences of residential school survivors and to honour the thousands of Indigenous children who died while attending the schools. CBC reports that the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre will act as a West Coast branch for the national archive based at the University of Manitoba. “We are pleased to see the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation expand to the West Coast in this meaningful way,” uManitoba President David Barnard stated in a release. “We wish our colleagues at UBC the best in helping preserve the stories of Residential School Survivors.” UBC (1) | UBC (2) | uManitoba | CBC |NationTalk

Algonquin, Nipissing sign agreement to support Indigenous students

Algonquin College and Nipissing University have signed a letter of intent supporting new opportunities for Indigenous students at both schools. The agreement reportedly commits both schools to creating new diploma-degree pathways with a focus on students from business, health, public safety and community studies, applied research and innovation, and entrepreneurship. “Algonquin College is committed to offering our many Indigenous students a cutting-edge student experience that will provide them with innovative pathways and opportunities for success,” said Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen. “We are very excited to be working with our partners at Algonquin College to build a better, stronger Ontario and Canada by offering exceptional educational opportunities tailored to the specific needs of Indigenous students,” added Nipissing President Mike DeGagné. Algonquin

Urban, Inuit-focused postsecondary program in Nunavik secures funding

The Kativik School Board has secured the funds to open Nunavik's first urban, Inuit-focused postsecondary program, reports Nunatsiaq Online. The program, which is modeled after the Ottawa-based Nunavut Sivuniksavut, will be accredited through John Abbott College. “We’ve been working on this project for a very long time,” said Kativik School Board chair Alicie Nalukturuk. “It’s important for young people to gain that positive self-identity in order to pursue different things in their lives.” School board officials have reportedly discussed hosting the program primarily in Montréal with Nunavik’s Avataq Cultural Institute while offering a Nunavik-based component, which would give students access to a wealth of Inuit cultural resources hosted at the Cultural Institute. The program received a $660K grant through the federal government as well as funding from various regional programs, and is slated to begin delivering classes in 2017. Nunatsiaq Online

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BC announces additional $3.6M to support Aboriginal Service Plan

The BC government has announced nearly $3.6M of funding for 11 BC colleges, institutes, and universities in the form of the new Aboriginal Service Plan funding. A BC release states that the funding comes in addition to the one-time amounts provided to the other 14 public postsecondary institutions in the province. “Our government wants Aboriginal students to have the opportunity to access and complete the post-secondary education and training they need to take advantage of these opportunities,” stated Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. The funding will reportedly be used for programs and services such as Elders-in-residence programs, outreach workshops, and language revitalization programs. BC (1) | BC (2)

uManitoba creates new endowment funds

The University of Manitoba has created two new endowment funds to support First Nations, Métis, and Inuit initiatives and scholars. The Indigenous Initiatives Fund will reportedly award $20K to $50K to projects that foster community engagement, develop or revise curriculum, and support innovations in teaching and learning to enhance the success of Indigenous students and communities. The Indigenous Scholars Fund will be used to recruit up to six Canadian Indigenous scholars to fill positions at the tenure-track/tenured assistant, instructor, librarian, or associate professor level. uManitoba Provost Janice Ristock said in an email that the funds “are two examples of the university focusing resources and attention on efforts to incorporate Indigenous voices and ways of knowing into our learning, discovery and engagement programs.” The faculty of education’s director of Indigenous initiatives, Frank Deer, added that “it is hoped that the students who are studying in an area relevant to Indigenous studies would benefit greatly from these new opportunities.” The Manitoban

Traditional knowledge, culture essential to improving mental health of Indigenous youth

Teaching Indigenous children and youth about traditional knowledge and culture is essential to improving mental health for this group, according to anthropologist Dawn Martin-Hill. Speaking at the 2016 Indigenous Children's Health Symposium, Martin-Hill highlighted the success of programs like those found in Akwesasne territory, which she says have found success by using traditional methods of intervention and healing. “We're hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't done well,” she said. “This should be funded through mental health and social services. They don't have the funding to keep these programs going.” The Hamilton Spectator reports that children and youth make up over 48% of Canada's Indigenous population, and a disproportionate number suffer from social and health issues that have been linked to “intergenerational Canadian polices of dislocating children from their families and communities, resulting in imbalances in health and socioeconomics spanning decades.” Hamilton Spectator

ON school board, First Nations team up to create course material

Ontario’s Lambton Kent District School Board will soon receive more resources to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, reports CBC. The school board’s Aboriginal Liaison Chris Riley tells CBC that he has begun working with teachers to support new curricula, teaching tools, and strategies to help students learn more about Indigenous issues, noting that “[teachers] don't feel like they are trained to deliver this type of curriculum.” Riley says that one of his first projects will be to produce videos to help make the TRC’s report more accessible. Other leaders approached for guidance by the Lambton board have included Isadore Day, the regional Chief for Ontario. Day commends the efforts of the board, but adds that moving forward with the proposed subject matter will not always be easy. CBC

Canadore releases five-year Indigenous Education strategy

Canadore College has released a five-year plan outlining its priorities for Indigenous Education. Canadore states that the plan emphasizes building relationships and being accountable to Indigenous communities, increasing the number of Indigenous employees with ongoing appointments at the college, creating and maintaining Indigenous-centred holistic services and learning for student success, and reflecting Indigenous knowledge and traditions in curriculum and learning approaches, among other priorities. “Education is multilateral and success is built on healthy relationships,” said Mary Wabano, Director of the First People’s Centre and Associate Dean of Canadore's School of Indigenous Studies. “Canadore believes in honouring our commitments to students, partners and community. In this fast-paced world filled with opportunity, we will maintain our focus on integrity, trustworthiness, understanding and acceptance in all that we do.” Canadore

CNC, NWCC, UNBC to launch new Aboriginal initiatives with BC funding

Aboriginal students at three public postsecondary institutions in Northern BC will benefit from new programs and services made available through the province’s Aboriginal Service Plan funding. The funding will be used for initiatives such as a cultural advisor who will provide guidance and traditional knowledge to students of the College of New Caledonia, an Introduction to Trades program at Northwest Community College, and an Aboriginal Alumni Speaker Series at the University of Northern British Columbia. “This investment in Aboriginal students in the North is an investment in the future of our region,” commented Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes. “Aboriginal students will help fill the need for skilled employees in a wide range of sectors that contribute not only to the students’ future success, but to a strong, diverse and growing economy.” NationTalk