Indigenous Top Ten

October 5, 2016

“It’s full circle”: TDSB schools pay daily tribute to Indigenous lands

All 588 schools across the Toronto District School Board have amended their daily announcements to include an acknowledgement of the Indigenous lands on which they are built, reports CBC. “If people don't really recognize them, and know what's going on, they're going to feel they're not a part of the country, and a part of the school, and they're different,” says student Almira Elnour. “I think more people should be aware of what's happening with the Aboriginal people.” TDSB first began acknowledging traditional lands at its meetings in 2015, and this past May, the board’s Aboriginal Community Advisory Committee suggested doing so at each school. “From a time when I was in school, when I was growing up and denied any access to my own culture, language, traditions and so on,” said Community elder and committee member Duke Redbird, “70 years later, to see it being introduced and little ones so proud of their heritage ... it's full circle.” CBC | Globe and Mail

uManitoba incorporates Indigenous design, planning into 30-year campus plan

The University of Manitoba has released a set of Indigenous design and planning principles alongside its master plan to provide a 30-year framework for the school’s Fort Garry campus. The plan and principles were reportedly developed over a two-year period that included stakeholder consultation with the help of an Indigenous Advisory Committee and the University’s Indigenous Advisory Circle. “The [principles] themselves are pretty exciting in terms of doing something new and unprecedented,” said Planner Jonathon Hildebrand, noting that the plans focus on making the university campus “a space where Indigenous cultures are rolled into the experience of the campus and how people experience and view the campus.” Metro

Lakehead creates Canada’s first chair in Truth and Reconciliation

Lakehead University will seek to advance the cause of reconciliation through the creation of what it says is the first chair for truth and reconciliation in Canada. The university has named its former vice-provost of Aboriginal initiatives, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, to the position. At a recent ceremony, Wesley-Esquimaux accepted the position by stating that “it’s time to lay down our anger and distrust and create the kind of relationship we can all be proud of.” In addition to advocating for healing in the Lakehead community and beyond, the role will see Wesley-Esquimaux serve as an ambassador for truth and reconciliation issues at the local, provincial, and national level. CBC | Lakehead

Punjabi community launches Aboriginal student fund at UBC

Indo-Canadian business owners from the Surrey and Vancouver area have launched an Aboriginal student fund in order to support First Nations student enrolment at the University of British Columbia. Working in partnership with UBC’s development office, they have spearheaded a $400K fund that will be called the UBC Centennial Scholars Major Entrance Award for Aboriginal Students. The fund will be provided to five students a year for four years, for a total of 20 recipients. “While immigrants like my family, as like many Punjabis, have come to this land and have been able to access higher education, many of the First Nations people have not been able to do that for a whole variety of reasons,” said owner of Sandhurst Group Barj Dhahan. “So those of us who have immigrated here have benefited from the material wealth of the land, and then the wealth of the education system that is created here.” BIV

ACAD, MTA, McMaster open new Indigenous spaces

The Alberta College of Art + Design officially celebrated the opening of the ACAD Lodgepole Center in an event that included speeches, a sacred pipe ceremony, and a tour led by Tina Kinnee-Brown, ACAD’s Indigenous Liaison. The space, which was named by the ACAD Elder Council, will host programming on traditional teachings for students and staff, and will facilitate activities such as Elder advising and support, traditional ceremonies and workshops, and sharing circles. In New Brunswick, Mount Allison University has officially opened Mawita’mkw, a designated Indigenous space on its campus. Translating as “a place we can gather,” Mawita’mkw will serve as a learning and gathering space for Indigenous students and community members. In Ontario, the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University has unveiled a new outdoor classroom. Constructed in the style of an amphitheatre, the classroom is surrounded by traditional plants and featuring four tiers of flagstone rocks to offer seating for 150 students. ACAD (1) | ACAD (2) | Sackville Tribune Post | MTA | McMaster | The Spectator | Two Row Times

Laurentian approves creation of Indigenous Research Institute

Laurentian University’s senate has approved the creation of the Maamwizing Indigenous Research Institute. CBC reports that while the institute already exists as a body within the university, the senate’s decision will pave the way for the creation of devoted space at the Faculty of Arts building on Laurentian's Sudbury campus. “It's a focal point for students wanting to learn more about research or those who are completing a thesis at the masters or the PhD levels,” said Taima Moeke-Pickering, associate professor at Laurentian’s School of Indigenous Relations. “So it's a place, very much what the name says, ‘Maamwizing,’ to come together.” Moeke-Pickering adds that the senate’s next step will be to hire a director for the approved centre. CBC

Questions emerge over training, experience of instructors teaching mandatory Indigenous courses

While mandatory Indigenous course requirements are a positive step forward, challenges remain in how institutions will deliver these courses effectively and ethically, say students from Lakehead University. Along with the University of Winnipeg, Lakehead is one of the only institutions in Canada to have made the completion of a course on Indigenous issues mandatory for all students. Yet as fourth-year Lakehead undergraduate student Kayla Tanner notes, “I'm being taught by a non-Indigenous instructor and this professor, I feel, is perpetuating those stereotypes that we're talking about.” Lakehead Interim Vice-provost of Aboriginal initiatives Peggy Smith says that the school is conscious of these concerns and that it welcomes ongoing collaboration, adding that the school has committed to hiring an Indigenous curriculum specialist who will support faculty in meeting the learning outcomes for its Indigenous content requirement. CBC

Lheidli T’enneh and UNBC strengthen ties, sign MOU

The Lheidli T’enneh Nation has signed an MOU with the University of Northern British Columbia committing the Nation and university to build relationships through collaboration. The agreement was marked last Friday by a ceremony involving Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Frederick, a group of Elders, and UNBC President Daniel Weeks. The ceremony saw the unveiling of a new sign at one of UNBC’s campus entrances that reads “House of Learning” in the Dakehl (Carrier) language, as well as an on-campus flagpole that will permanently fly the Lheidli T’enneh flag. “We are happy to continue to collaborate and strengthen our ties with UNBC,” said Chief Frederick. “Today is another example of recognizing the Lheidli T’enneh traditional territory that the University’s Prince George campus is situated within.” UNBC reports that the Elders of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation have “worked tirelessly for the last year sharing their knowledge and expertise” on the project with Rheanna Robinson, UNBC’s Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Relations. UNBC | CBC

Canada, YK to fund creation of Carcross/Tagish First Nation learning centre

The Canadian and Yukon governments have announced $5.3M in funding to support the second phase of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation learning centre. This phase of work will see the creation of new spaces for the Carcross/Tagish community, including designated spaces for Yukon College, youth and Elders, heritage and archives, document management systems, and learning. The centre will be designed to serve as a gathering place for the community and provide community services while creating jobs, promoting skill development, and supporting economic growth. “This joint funding effort is monumental and will provide citizens of our First Nation, as well as the extended community, an opportunity to learn about, share and uphold our language, culture, and traditions,” said Carcross/Tagish First Nation Khà Shâde Héni (Chief) Andy Carvill. The Government of Canada will provide nearly $4M to this project through the Small Communities Fund and the Government of Yukon will contribute up to $1.3M. NationTalk

MUN endorses new PhD pathway to encourage Aboriginal student participation in graduate program

Memorial University of Newfoundland has recently endorsed a new doctoral pathway that aims to encourage Aboriginal students to participate in the university's graduate programs. The MUN Gazette reports that the program will "follow a cohort model of learning" by creating peer learning communities among students and creating a clear path to postgraduate studies, complete with milestones to guide the process. “We believe this is a first-of-its-kind pathway in Canada and a positive step towards addressing the needs of current and prospective Aboriginal students,” said Catharyn Andersen, special advisor to the president on Aboriginal Affairs. “Our hope is that it will help to encourage Aboriginal students to explore post-graduate options and careers that they may have never considered before.” The pathway will be piloted through MUN's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. MUN Gazette