Indigenous Top Ten

November 2, 2016

Journalism schools add programs, change curricula to better inform journalists on Indigenous issues

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has announced that its journalism program will now require all students to take an introductory Indigenous course. Set to launch in Spring 2017, the course focuses on the histories, cultures, and contemporary situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the US, incorporating teachings and perspectives from band elders and local communities. At Ryerson University, Rogers Visiting Journalist Duncan McCue states that he will be assisting the Ryerson School of Journalism in curriculum revisions and will work with instructors on developing new approaches for reporting on stories that involve Indigenous communities. “I would suggest that the impact of repeating stereotypes and misrepresentations in the mainstream media about cultural groups—in my case, Indigenous groups—is every bit as harmful as some of those dire situations that police and health workers face,” explained McCue, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. “So, it’s important that we as journalists have a cultural baseline when it comes to the communities we serve.” J-Source (Ryerson) | Runner Mag (KPU)

Public officials ask for $2B for “immediate” repairs to First Nations schools

The federal Indigenous Affairs Department has said that it will need at least $2B to properly address 115 First Nations schools that require "immediate attention," according to documents tabled in the House of Commons. CBC reports that while last year’s budget committed half of this amount over five years, the funds will not necessarily be directed at the schools identified as being most in need of repair. 40% of the promised funds are also set to be delivered after the next election, and there is “no guarantee a new government would make the same spending commitments.” The IAD’s request for $2B stems from recently completed inspections of First Nations schools across the country, which found that over half of the 439 surveyed schools had at least one example of a “health or safety deficiency.” CBC reports that over the past decade, roughly $720M in First Nations infrastructure money has been reallocated this way. “While this is helping to cover some of the pressures of social and education programs, it is putting increased pressure on already inadequate infrastructure funding,” public servants wrote in a January 2013 briefing note. “The gap between current identified need and available resources is so vast that even with a significant increase in the escalator, the current gap remains.” CBC

NU officials speak out against school policies preventing student from speaking Inuktitut

"We are in 2016. All teachers should be told that the language of Inuktitut should be promoted — not stopped," replied MLA Paul Okalik in Inuktitut when he heard that a Nunavut teacher had ordered a Grade 8 student to not speak Inuktitut. MLA David Joanasie suggests that an alleged school policy against speaking the language appears to have arisen out of concern about bullying occurring in Inuktitut, which English-speaking teachers may not be able to understand. Nunavut Education Minister Paul Quassa called for an investigation into the matter, stating that “once we learn of the actual details, we will review the case with the teachers to ensure that language is not used for this type of disciplinary action since language should not be a reason.” Nunavut Tunngavik Inc has also released a statement calling for “an education system and strong legislation that are built upon fully effective bilingual Inuktitut and English instruction in our schools.” The Cape Dorset District Education Authority followed up to state that there is no policy at the school preventing students from speaking Inuktitut, and called the notion that such a policy could be put in place “absurd.” CBC | Nunatsiaq Online | Nunatsiaq Online (DEA Response) | NationTalk (NTI)

New mural at SaskPolytech celebrates Indigenous cultures

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is celebrating Indigenous cultures with a new mural at its Moose Jaw campus. “The Moose Jaw Aboriginal Student Achievement Plan committee set out with a theme of ‘gathering’ because we felt that Sask Polytech has really become a place where Indigenous individuals come together and are supported by the community they are a part of,” said Jason Seright, director of Aboriginal Strategy at the school. The mural was painted by Calgary-based artist Anna Crop, but designed and completed in collaboration with the Moose Jaw Aboriginal Student Achievement Plan committee. “We weren’t always welcome in the education environment,” Seright told the Moose Jaw Herald. “When you see things like [the mural]… it really hits home and it makes me feel like we belong and I can imagine and hope it does the same for our students.” NationTalk | Moose Jaw Times Herald

Queen’s gives Indigenous names to 12 campus study rooms

Queen's University has announced that it will give Indigenous names to 12 rooms in its Stauffer Library in an effort to increase the visibility of Indigenous culture on its campus and to make these rooms more welcoming for Indigenous students. Seven of the rooms are named after the Seven Grandfather Teachings in Anishinaabe, while five of the rooms have names from Mohawk, Cree, Michif (Métis), Mi'kmaq and Inuktitut languages. “University spaces have not been perceived by Indigenous peoples as a welcoming place where their identity and knowledge is respected,” said Marlene Brant Castellano, co-chair and elder of the school's Aboriginal Council. “The assigning of Indigenous names to 12 study rooms in the Stauffer Library, the symbolic and physical centre of study and learning, make an important statement that Indigenous presence is recognized at the heart of the university.” Kingston Whig-Standard | Queen’s

Sault creates designated smudging areas, including boardroom

Sault College has announced the creation of designated areas throughout its campus where Indigenous students can freely hold smudging ceremonies without needing to submit a request to the school’s administration. Among the designated areas is the college’s boardroom, where elders Ted Recollet and Barbara Nolan performed a smudging ceremony at the school’s most recent board of governors meeting. Sault Vice President, Corporate and Student Services Janice Beatty says that signs will be placed at every designated smudging area so that individuals with allergies and other unpleasant reactions to smoke may be aware that smudging might occur. The college’s Director of Native Education and Academic Upgrading, Carolyn Hepburn, adds, “I just want to thank the college for moving in this direction, smudging within postsecondary institutions has been quite a hot topic provincially, it does come with its challenges but I think this is a really great move in the right direction for us.” Soo Today 

MB funds summer literacy camps for Indigenous students through Frontier College

The Manitoba government will provide funding to the literacy organization Frontier College in order to offer students from Manitoba First Nations communities the chance to attend summer reading camps. MB reports that under the agreement, Frontier College will receive $160K over two years to operate summer literacy camps for students in 10 Indigenous communities throughout the province. “Indigenous students face a number of unique challenges that contribute to achievement gaps in literacy, such as geographic and socio-economic barriers and lack of access to summer learning opportunities,” said Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart. “Frontier College’s summer literacy camps help to level the playing field by bringing high-quality educational opportunities to Indigenous communities during the summer months that lead to better educational outcomes overall.” CBC | MB

Grade 8 student helps teach Nuu-chah-nulth language in high school course

Tim Masso, a Grade 8 student from Ucluelet Secondary School, reportedly stunned national Aboriginal leaders and the federal Indigenous Affairs minister by recounting how he came to assist in the teaching of the Nuu-chah-nulth language at his school, despite the fact that he is still learning the language himself. Masso explained that he signed up for an Indigenous language course at his high school and volunteered to help teach students the language after being sent out to pick berries several times. "It would be great if we had elders there," Masso added. “I don't know. I can't really do the language because I'm still learning and if we had the elders there we could do it.” School District 70 superintendent Greg Smith explained that the Nuu-chah-nulth studies course is a general studies class rather than a strict language course, and added that the school enlisted Masso to help with the language portions because he is far ahead of most students in his language skills. CTV News | CBC

NU creates committee to guide joint-venture university project

Nunavut Education Minister Paul Quassa says that the territory has convened a committee to oversee the development of a joint-venture university in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College and an established university. A feasibility study conducted earlier this year found that NU would not have the student population necessary to support a standalone university. Since then, a group of officials from the education department and Arctic College has visited five Canadian universities in three provinces to look at best practices. “A joint venture would allow us to increase the number and diversity of degree programs delivered here in Nunavut,” Quassa told the legislature last week. “It will provide an opportunity for Nunavut Arctic College and a partner university to share their respective expertise and establish a university in the Canadian Arctic.” Nunatsiaq Online

UBC, UNBC strive to graduate more Aboriginal MDs

A recent segment on CKPG TV highlights the efforts of the University of British Columbia and the University of Northern British Columbia to graduate more Aboriginal medical professionals. The report notes that in 2006, UBC set a goal of 50 additional Medical Program graduates by 2020. To date, it has already surpassed that goal, graduating 63 Aboriginal MDs. The university has also been working closely with UNBC to entice more Aboriginal high school students and undergraduate students with an annual workshop on medical education. Associate Vice President of the UNBC Northern Medical Program Paul Winwood says that in every year since the program started in 2006, the school has enrolled a number of Aboriginal students who have gone on to perform residency training. Winwood adds that he believes “many of [the students] will come back to practice in Northern BC, and specifically in areas where there are large numbers of Indigenous peoples.” UBC