Indigenous Top Ten

November 30, 2016

AB significantly increases funding for program to help Indigenous students pursue PSE

Alberta has expanded funding for its Future Ready education initiative from $4.3M to $7M to help more than 1,500 Indigenous students pursue PSE. “Every Albertan should have the same opportunity to pursue higher education, regardless of financial circumstances,” said Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education. “These awards are helping reduce barriers for Indigenous students, creating opportunities to build the skills they need for rewarding, successful careers.” “It’s been such a blessing, not having to worry about finances while I study,” added student Denise Simmons. “It’s still really stressful, trying to raise children while you’re going to school. But [funding from the program] has helped tremendously.” Calgary Herald | AB

Canada, NU invest in infrastructure at Nunavut Arctic College

Nunavut Arctic College will be able to build a new training facility for students and community members thanks to a combined $29.5M investment from the Canadian and Nunavut governments. The new training facility will benefit students and community members who are learning about language and culture through the Inuktitut interpreter and translator and Inuit Studies programs, among other professional diploma and degree programs. The project also aims to incorporate renewable energy and sustainable building options into its design. “Education is a priority for the Government of Nunavut,” commented Nunavut Minister of Education and minister responsible for NAC Paul Quassa. “Investing in infrastructure for post-secondary education through the proposed expansion of the Nunatta Campus in Iqaluit is a tremendous addition to our capacity for delivering programs as we continue building a representative workforce.” Canada

Fanshawe, Chippewa of the Thames First Nation partner on on-reserve learning

Alberta has expanded funding for its Future Ready education initiative from $4.3M to $7M to help more than 1,500 Indigenous students pursue PSE. “Every Albertan should have the same opportunity to pursue higher education, regardless of financial circumstances,” said Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education. “These awards are helping reduce barriers for Indigenous students, creating opportunities to build the skills they need for rewarding, successful careers.” “It’s been such a blessing, not having to worry about finances while I study,” added student Denise Simmons. “It’s still really stressful, trying to raise children while you’re going to school. But [funding from the program] has helped tremendously.” Calgary Herald | AB

ON Ojibway teacher files human rights complaint

An Ojibway teacher has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after he was bumped from his full-time job teaching high school Ojibway and replaced by someone who reportedly is not Indigenous, does not speak Ojibway, and has “no professional qualifications in any language.” CBC reports that the move was part of job cuts taken by Ontario's public school system. Yet David Thompson, who was raised by his grandparents at Rocky Bay First Nation in northwestern Ontario, insists that “It's a total insult to our youth to put someone in front of the classroom to teach Ojibway, who is not Ojibway, who is not affiliated with the culture or brought up with it.” Thompson's complaint is based on what he calls systemic barriers that prevent Ojibway people from teaching their own language, culture, and history within the public school system. “The whole experience was dehumanizing,” Thompson said. “It felt not worthy of what I brought to the school board, of what I had to offer.” CBC

SK Following Their Voices initiative sees increasing Indigenous class attendance rates

The new Saskatchewan-based initiative called Following Their Voices has led to increased classroom attendance and graduation rates among First Nations and Métis students. The initiative helps engage and support First Nations and  Métis students by improving student-teacher relationships and creating positive learning environments for students. “I’m delighted to see that observing and listening to students has had such a positive impact on our schools,” said Director of Education for Treaty Six Education Council Pat Bugler.  “By ensuring that each student’s voice is being heard we will continue to improve their learning environments, build relationships and encourage better interactions between the students and teachers.” In 2015-2016, the initiative saw a 10% increase in First Nations and Métis students attending class at least 80% of the time, a 4% increase in average attendance of First Nations and Métis students, a 2% average increase in average attendance for all students, and a 1% increase in credit attainment. Global News | SK

Teachers in northern First Nation walk off jobs, demand first wage hike in 20 years

Pimicikamak teachers have begun picketing for what would reportedly be their first wage hike in 20 years. The teachers state that they make tens of thousands of dollars less than their provincially funded counterparts, and that they had no choice but to go on strike after failed meetings with the Pimicikamak chief and council. “We went to the same universities. We got the same degrees. We got the same experiences, the same job, the same services being delivered, with less resources," says spokesperson Allan Ross. Ross states that he has been a teacher for 26 years and receives just over $57K a year, while “in Thompson, they make $96,000 at the same five-year level, with 10 years experience max.” Councillor Mervin Garrick states that the band supports the teachers and their demands, but is unable to afford the 40%  salary increase requested. CBC reports that the teachers plan to picket until their salary demands are met. CBC

The Atlantic looks to Indigenization in Canadian PSE as model for US higher ed

Canadian approaches to supporting Indigenous learners could provide the US with a model to better serve underrepresented groups in higher ed, writes Jon Marcus for The Atlantic. The author highlights the efforts of the University of Saskatchewan as potential inspiration for American schools to boost enrolment and graduation rates for these groups. uSask President Peter Stoicheff says that “a lot of these things are transferable,” referring to strategies that can also help US institutions with their own diversity initiatives. Universities Canada President Paul Davidson adds that “there is a combination of a moral imperative and an economic imperative” to better supporting Indigenous students, as doing so can help an economy by cutting the cost of social programming and improving the earning potential of Indigenous graduates. The article concludes by highlighting how states in the US could significantly benefit by fulfilling these same goals and creating more opportunities for underrepresented groups in PSE. The Atlantic

Algonquin, Cambrian partner on researching PSE barriers for Indigenous students

Algonquin College and Cambrian College have partnered to work with Indigenous communities to research the barriers facing Indigenous students at both institutions. The Indigenous Student Performance Success Program will strive to identify the factors that are more likely to help or hinder Indigenous students looking to pursue PSE at either school. “Our joint focus will be especially useful in terms of understanding student success, which is critical in terms of making plans for the future for all of our campuses,” said Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen. Cambrian President Bill Best added that the colleges “have been collaborating and sharing best practices in attracting and supporting Indigenous students from diverse regions and communities for some time now. We are pleased to sign an agreement that will formalize our collaboration in support of our shared goals.” Algonquin | Cambrian

Mandatory Indigenous programming should start earlier than PSE

“Indigenous history should be a separate part of the curriculum for students from kindergarten to Grade 12,” writes Charles Lefebvre for Medicine Hat News. The author reflects on the gains made in recent efforts to introduce mandatory Indigenous course requirements at some Canadian PSE institutions, and adds that these efforts should begin earlier in a student’s life. Doing so, he argues, will allow students to understand Canada’s history from a First Nations perspective and allow teachers to devote a proper amount of time to the subject instead of merely “glossing over it or omitting it entirely in some cases.” Lefebvre adds that teaching Indigenous history will not only help students learn about past and ongoing wrongs, but also point toward historical figures who deserve to be admired. “Indigenous history is Canada’s history,” the author concludes. “We can’t move forward and heal from the past unless we know what happened there and what brought us to today.” On a related note the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation have launched a new resource that aims to educate students across the country about Residential Schools and set them on the path to Reconciliation. Medicine Hat News | NCTR-CTF Resource

UVic proposes “globally unique” degree in Canadian, Indigenous law

The University of Victoria has proposed a joint degree in Canadian common law and Indigenous law that it says will be the first of its kind in Canada and globally unique, reports the Globe and Mail. The proposal for the program has reportedly been in the works for a decade and has been inspired in part by McGill University’s joint degree in civil and common law. UVic’s proposed program will expose students to the same subjects as a conventional law degree would, but instead of looking only at the Canadian legal system, students will study principles in the laws of First Nations based in both Canada and the US. The program aims to create graduates who will be able to use Indigenous law—along with federal and provincial laws—to develop policies related to issues such as child welfare and resource development. Globe and Mail