Indigenous Top Ten

January 25, 2017

UQAT receives $5M in infrastructure for First Peoples Pavilion

Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue has received $5M in combined funding from the Quebec and Canadian governments to expand the First Peoples Pavilion at its Val-d'Or campus. The First Peoples Pavilion was established in 2009 and serves to provide training for Aboriginal students and conduct research on Aboriginal issues and concerns. “The Government of Canada is working to ensure that Inuit and First Nations youth have access to a high-quality education that will allow them to gain the skills they need to join the labour market,” said Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. “The expansion of the First Peoples Pavilion will not only provide a learning space that is culturally adapted to the needs of Indigenous students but also offer students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, a unique space to meet and learn from each other.” Canada | UQAT

SK students learn about science through combined Indigenous teachings, Western science

Students at 11 schools in southern Saskatchewan are learning about science through a program called Learning the Land, which combines Indigenous culture and teaching with scientific knowledge about conservation. “It's a better way to engage students,” said Program Co-ordinator Scott Fulton. “They've got natural inclinations, I think, for environmental outdoor education, learning that takes them outside the classroom.” CBC explains that the program recently teamed up with the University of Saskatchewan’s Saskatchewan Farmland Moose Project. Students learned how to identify animals by their hides and antlers, learned about how moose were tracked for study, and had the opportunity to try out the tracking equipment. “Nobody ever does anything like that around here,” said Grade 11 student Josh Lerat, who later added, “I saw it interested my friends and they were wanting to find out more. They liked it too.” CBC

MB First Nation school sees literacy rates soar

Six years after partnering with the Park West School Division, student literacy rates have dramatically increased at the Manitoba-based Waywayseecappo School. The partnership saw the introduction of smaller class sizes, increased educational funding, and access to both increased professional development and support staff for the teachers. On top of reduced teacher stress and improved teacher retention rates, CBC reports that the percentage of grade 1 to 4 students who were at or above grade-level literacy rates rose from 3% in 2010 to 47% in 2016. “There's a lot of time spent with our students today, to teach them the proper way so we have more graduates, so we can become competitive in the education field,” Chief Murray Clearsky said. “One day I guess you'll see greater results by our people, by our children, which will make me very proud.” Park West School Division and Waywayseecappo have agreed to extend the partnership for another three years. CBC

UBC Indigenous professor quits committee after university re-invites cancelled speaker

An Indigenous professor working on a sexual violence policy committee at the University of British Columbia has left the group after the school re-extended a speaking invitation to Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong. The Canadian Press reports that UBC Professor Daniel Heath Justice said in a letter to university president Santa Ono that the decision to re-invite Furlong “silenced and erased” allegations that Furlong abused First Nations students while teaching at a BC Catholic school in 1969 and 1970. “I believe that a viable and legitimate survivor-centred approach to sexual assault cannot stand with integrity alongside this deeply troubling decision,” said Justice’s letter. Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice-president of equity and inclusion and co-chair of the UBC committee, praised Justice’s contributions and added that: “We are saddened by his resigning from the committee but we do respect his decision. Times Colonist (CP) | Maclean’s

QC universities launch free online course on northern politics, development

The Institut Nordique du Québec—made up of Université Laval, McGill University, and Quebec’s national institute for scientific research (INRS)—are releasing a seven-session program on the social and political issues facing Nunavik and other regions in northern Quebec. In order to ensure that the course reflected the experiences and perspectives of people from Northern QC, the course designers consulted with northerners, including representatives from Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, Makivik Corporation, and the Inukjuak and Kangiqsualujjuaq communities. Students who enroll in the online “Northern Quebec: issues, spaces and cultures” program will work independently through the modules and interact with others through an online forum. Over 1,800 students have already registered for the French-language version of the course, some of whom hail from France and North Africa. “I think everyone is interested in the North right now,” said ULaval professor Thierry Rodon. “It’s more than just students. It’s also for people who plan to go work in the North.” Nunatsiaq Online

Canadian postsecondary institutions host Aboriginal art exhibits

Several Canadian postsecondary institutions have announced new exhibits of historical and contemporary Aboriginal art. Northwest Community College has received a Wolf Panel carving in the traditional Haida style and a Portrait Mask, both crafted by Northwest Coast artist Freda Diesing. McMaster University’s Museum of Art is showcasing 11 foundational works of art by Indigenous artists—such as Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Robert Houle, and Carl Beam—who played “a critical role in paving the way for Indigenous artists and curators today.” The University of Sudbury has put a new soapstone exhibit of the Seven Grandfather Teachings by Gene Solomon, a member of the Henvey Inlet First Nation, on display at the USudbury Library. The Walking With Our Sisters commemoration—which features over 1,800 pairs of moccasin tops made by contributing artists in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit people, and their families—has been installed at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. NWCC | McMaster | USudbury | MSVU

Trent, Sault partner on education program with a teachable in Ojibwe

Trent University and Sault College have signed an articulation agreement that will see Sault Anishinaabemowin certificate program graduates enter into Trent’s Indigenous Bachelor of Education program with advanced standing and the opportunity to earn both a certificate and a degree in five years. Sault explains that the agreement will see graduates gain a teachable in Ojibwe. “Language is central to education and speaks directly to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. The Sault College Anishinaabemowin Certificate is an extremely important language-based program, that offers a fast pathway into the Indigenous Bachelor of Education program at Trent for self-identified First Nations, Métis and Inuit students,” explained Trent School of Education Dean Cathy Bruce. “The beauty of this partnership is that the graduates are equipped with the qualifications and understandings to teach Anishinaabemowin – Ojibwe language.” SaultOnline | Sault | Trent

NV proposes independent territory-wide education council

Nunavut education officials have proposed a new territory-wide District Education Authority Council, which would reportedly act independently of the Government of Nunavut and provide advocacy and support for education authority bodies in each community. Nunatsiaq Online suggests that this proposed council could replace the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs. The article touches on a number of proposed amendments to NV’s Education Act—including clarification on the role of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit within the legislation and increased standardization across the territory—before highlighting community concerns around some of these amendments. Members of Nunavummiut voiced criticism about the proposed DEA council, stating that a more centralized administration of education could remove regional accountability. Nunatsiaq Online

SK ensemble program helps Indigenous students gain a sense of pride, self

An after-school program offered in Saskatoon that combines Indigenous culture with theatre and performance is helping Indigenous high school students gain a sense of pride. While the program is a non-credit course, it is open to all students across the division and is intended to help develop a strong sense of self. CBC reports that the program may become accredited. “I used to struggle in school, in Grade 8, a lot because I didn't get along with my teacher at all,” said high school student Bluejay Linklater. “Every day, I try to get through the day as quick as I can so I can get to the ensemble program.” The program acknowledges many different nations, including the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, and Métis people. Members of the ensemble have the opportunity to take part in workshops on topics such as powwow dancing, regalia making, and script development. CBC

New Amo Ososwan School opened in Winneway, QC

This month, the Winneway First Nation celebrated the grand opening of the Amo Ososwan School in Winneway, Quebec. The community reportedly received an investment of over $9M from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, more than $6M of which went towards the construction of the Amo Ososwan School. The new school will house approximately 130 students from pre-kindergarten to Secondary V and will contain 14 classrooms, science and computer labs, a library, a cafeteria, a home economics room, and a gym. “Today is a proud day for my community’s children, parents, and our community,” said Long Point First Nation Chief Derek Mathias. “During my first term as Chief, it was the wishes of our members to continue with the ongoing school project, to finally get it started and also completed. This was always our priority, our children. I am more than satisfied with the outcome of our new school and thank our contributors at the department of INAC and all the professionals and construction collaboration and relationships that resulted from this project.” Canada