Indigenous Top Ten

December 14, 2016

Anishinabek to establish standalone education system under historic agreement

The Anishinabek First Nation has voted in favour of a historic education agreement that will establish a parallel, standalone Anishinabek education system. This system will be the first of its kind in Canada, reports CBC. The Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement will recognize the First Nation's jurisdiction over primary, elementary, and secondary education and will provide federal funding to operate the standalone system. “We're going to try to put in place our own programming, history and culture and our languages. That will really strengthen the identity of our people and create more success,” said Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, adding that the First Nation expects the implementation of the agreement to begin in April 2018. When asked about the process for creating the system, Madahbee said, “We're going to pick the best of existing in present provincial school models. We've looked at models all around Canada and abroad.” Morning Star | CBC

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

WesternU finds that culturally relevant mentorship improves Indigenous students’ academic success, mental health

A study lead by Western University has found that Indigenous students with Indigenous mentors appear to do better at school and have better mental health outcomes than their non-mentored peers. The two-year study followed 105 Indigenous students in Grade 7 and 8 who met weekly with an Indigenous adult mentor. The researchers also reviewed students’ report cards and test scores, conducted surveys and interviews with the students, and held conversations with principals and teachers. “This program was able to help these Indigenous students develop a positive sense of identity tied to their culture,” said study lead Claire Crooks. “We can now show with real evidence that when they feel better about themselves, know who they are and understand where they came from, there are hugely positive impacts in almost all other areas of their lives.” While the findings are considered to be preliminary, a WesternU release notes that the study points to the potential impacts that culturally relevant mentorship can have on the well-being of Indigenous youth. WesternU | Times Colonist (CP)

VIU, US-based Pitzer College to provide new exchange opportunities for Indigenous high school students

Indigenous high school students will have new exchange opportunities through Vancouver Island University and Pitzer College in California, thanks to funding from the US State Department’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. The funding will be used to bring two established Indigenous mentorship initiatives together: VIU’s Su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins and Pitzer College’s Native Youth to College programs. “What we are trying to do goes beyond the standard approach to academics. We are drawing on Native North American post-secondary scholars and Elders to work together to contribute cultural knowledge and traditional ways of learning within an academic environment,” said VIU Aboriginal Projects and Elder Support Coordinator Sylvia Scow. “Current post-secondary students from both our institutions will mentor high school students with input and guidance from our Elders. The high school students will experience an Aboriginal culture other than their own and through it all they will be exploring key issues facing Indigenous communities like climate change, fisheries and community development.” VIU

USask receives historic Inuit art donation

The University of Saskatchewan has received more than 200 pieces of art from alumni Norman Zepp and Judith Varga, a donation that the school says is the largest of its kind in its history. The artworks include sculptures, prints, drawings, and five wall hangings that come mostly from Nunavut’s Keewatin region. The collection also includes photographs and interviews with original artists. “This would be a remarkable collection even if the art weren’t included,” university archivist Tim Hutchinson said in a statement. “The interviews and archival material provide unique insight into the lives of Canada’s northern artists—indeed it is likely the only in-depth documentation available about many of the artists. This is an invaluable addition to our research collections focusing on the North.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix | USask

Mistissini high school gets new Aboriginal entrepreneurship program

Cree students in Mistissini, Quebec will now have the opportunity to create business plans, learn from local mentors, and access start-up funding thanks to the recent launch of the Martin Family Initiative’s Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship program at Voyageur Memorial High School. The entrepreneurship program is the first of its kind in Quebec and allows students to earn two credits. “We all know the economy is changing at such a rate that unless you're innovative, unless you're thinking into the future, you're not going to make it,” said former Prime Minister Paul Martin at the program’s launch. “That's what this course is all about.” Abraham Jolly, Director General of the Cree School Board, noted that the program could be extended to other Cree communities in the future. CBC

McMaster commemorates new plaque in honour of missing, murdered Indigenous women

McMaster University has commemorated a new plaque and three white pine trees near LR Wilson Hall in recognition of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The plaque bears the text: “In honour of our missing and murdered Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, nieces, cousins, partners, and friends” surrounded by the sentence “your families, communities, and nations will tell your stories.” Red dresses have also blanketed the campus in order to raise awareness of these Indigenous women as part of the national REDress campaign. McMaster states that the campaign intends to raise awareness about the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Indigenous women. “Indigenous women are five and a half times more likely to be victims of homicide than other women, that’s really significant,” said Robyn Bourgeois with the Cree Nation. “I always struggle with how I’m going to explain that to my daughter, she’s four years old, how do I explain because she has a status card, she’s more likely to die in this country.” McMaster | iNews 880 AM

Laurentian celebrates trio of major Indigenous research announcements

Laurentian University celebrated three major Indigenous research announcements earlier this month, which covered the appointment of Laurentian’s first Canada Research Chair in Indigenous health, the creation of the Maamwizing Indigenous Research Institute, and the creation of the Advancing Indigenous Research Fund. Jennifer Walker was appointed to the position of CRC in Indigenous health, and will work with First Nations and Métis communities to address chronic illness and other conditions among the elderly. The Maamwizing Indigenous Research Institute will work to promote social and cultural Indigenous research through collaboration with community partners, and the AIR Fund will award $100K annually to support Indigenous research initiatives at the school. Laurentian Associate Vice-President of Academic and Indigenous programs Sheila Cote-Meek stated that the awarding of the AIR funds show that the university is “putting its money where its mouth is” when it comes to supporting Indigenous research. Sudbury Star | NationTalk | NationTalk

RRC to support First Nations, Métis students with new bursary

Red River College alumnus Cindy Petrowski and her partner have created a new endowment fund that will support First Nations or Métis students with their academic aspirations and help with financial burdens. RRC notes that The Cindy Petrowski and Phillip Marsh Helping Hands Bursary will honour the Métis members of the Petrowskis’ families while providing new opportunities for students. “As I moved through my career, I remembered the fantastic instructors I had and their patience with each and every one of their students,” said Petrowski. “I would encourage alumni to remember the experience and the rewards that RRC has provided them in career opportunities, friends made, and knowledge gained. Donate to help others achieve greatness through education.” RRC

Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board looks to increase opportunities for Indigenous learners

The Chair of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board in Quebec City says that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students can benefit from more cross-cultural exchanges of knowledge and experiences, reports the Suburban. Board Chair Jennifer Maccarone has warned, however, that Quebec’s tight control over school curriculum could make it difficult to change things quickly. “Obviously there’s a problem with the curriculum,” she said. “There are more than 3,200 native students currently enrolled in public education system in both English and French schools. It’s likely that there are significantly more, though, whom we’ve been unable to identify in the system.” SWLSB has reportedly expanded its vocational training program to impart job skills to foreign students, and Maccarone says that she now wants to learn what the board can do to help Indigenous communities from an adult education perspective. “If you want to start building bridges, you need to make them part of your government structure,” she recommended. “Canada has made Aboriginal education a priority. It’s time for Quebec to follow the lead.” Maccarone has also pointed toward more Indigenous-centred extracurricular programming and the training of more Indigenous teachers as significant areas for improvement at the school board. The Suburban