Indigenous Top Ten

February 22, 2017

Reconciliation at risk of becoming a buzzword, says NCTR director

“What role can and should universities play in reconciliation efforts between Canadian institutions and Indigenous communities? What’s working well and what needs to change?” asks Natalie Samson as she reflects on conversations that were central to Converge 2017, a two-day symposium hosted by Universities Canada earlier this month. Samson recounts how Ry Moran, director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, expressed concern at the conference that the term “reconciliation” has become a buzzword with no real action behind it. Robina Thomas, director of Indigenous academic and community engagement at the University of Victoria, reportedly used her time at the conference to identify several “actionable deeds” for universities to perform, such as developing required courses that provide students with the “knowledge of the imperial impact on Indigenous communities” and the “deep systemic violence” waged against them. The article goes on to highlight a number of other perspectives expressed at the symposium. University Affairs

Protesters in Ottawa push for equal education for Indigenous children

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Parliament Hill earlier this month to press the government to ensure equity in services for Indigenous children. The Ottawa Sun reports that the crowd of more than 700 chanted, “All talk, no action” as part of “Have a Heart Day,” an annual rally to support the need for Indigenous children to be safe, healthy, and have a good education. Signs held by protesters reportedly bore phrases including, “Everyone has a right to an education” and “Have a heart, Mr. Trudeau.” The demonstrations came on the same day that a Superior Court of Ontario judge ruled in favour of the survivors of the “Sixties Scoop,” an Ontario-led program that took thousands of children from on-reserve homes and placed them with non-Indigenous families. In the court ruling, the judge noted that the government policy resulted in psychological harm that has persisted into adulthood for many of those who were affected. The ruling stated that the federal government had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent those children from losing their Indigenous heritage. Ottawa Sun

New programs, facilities support trades training for Aboriginal learners in AB, ON

Red Deer College in Alberta has launched the Virtual Reality and Co-operative Trades – The Next Generation program, which offers Aboriginal learners the opportunity to develop the practical skills, knowledge, and experience needed for fulfilling careers in welding. “The programming infuses cultural teachings and learnings from the students’ elders with technical and hands-on training, offered through virtual reality welding simulators,” explained RDC President Joel Ward. Meanwhile, Ontario is celebrating the opening of the newly renovated First Nations Trade School at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay. “It'll be really useful because we don't really have a mechanic back in our reserve, so if I learn a lot of stuff, I can help them out over there,” said Soda Kakegamic of the Keewaywin First Nation. The building includes a new manufacturing technology shop; improved ventilation, lighting, and electrical systems for the transportation technology shop; and a new kitchen for the hospitality and tourism classroom. RDC | CBC (ON) | NationTalk (ON)

Ottawa looks to attract Indigenous youth to federal service with summer jobs program

The Canadian government says that it will offer 60 Indigenous PSE students up to 14 weeks of paid work in federal departments and agencies this summer, reports the Globe and Mail. The program is reportedly looking to build on the success of a pilot that the government launched last year, with this year’s program providing twice the number of openings in an effort to attract more young Indigenous people to work in the federal public service. The Treasury Board says the project will offer students on-the-job learning, professional development and networking, and access to cultural events and mentorship opportunities. The summer jobs will be based in the Ottawa area, but the Globe notes that students from across the country are eligible, with additional financial support being available for those living outside the capital region. “We are committed to ensuring that Indigenous Canadians help shape the public service of the future because everyone benefits when the government is enriched by fresh perspectives and innovative ideas,” said Treasury Board President Scott Brison in a news release. Globe and Mail

WLU celebrates Hall of Nations opening, featuring five First Nations

Wilfrid Laurier University has celebrated the grand opening of its Hall of Nations on its Brantford campus, which contains 50 flags representing the countries and Aboriginal communities of origin for the current students on campus. CBC reports that WLU collaborated with its Aboriginal office in order to make sure it had the correct representation for students who identified as First Nation, Inuit, or Métis. Among the fifty flags, five First Nations territories are represented: Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Anishinabek Nation, Metis Nation of Ontario, and Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation. “[The students] were so passionate about it and it was really something students wanted to see on the campus,” said WLU Dean of Students Adam Lawrence. “I think it brings such an important message to the community that this is who is represented on our campus.” NationTalk | CBC

Lack of Indigenous inclusion highlighted as primary concern in NL education reform consultation

Mental health support and Indigenous issues are among the topics of concern that were raised during a public consultation on education reform this month in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland & Labrador. Some attendees were particularly concerned with what they deemed to be a lack of Indigenous perspective in the NL educational curriculum. “We tried to teach based on [students’] previous knowledge,” said Cathy Mitsuk, who is currently studying for her bachelor's degree in education. “If they know that a Ski-Doo travels at five kilometres an hour and gets to the cabin at this certain amount of time they can understand that concept. When they go into a … test and they have a question about a child skateboarding on a sidewalk that's made of concrete and hits a curb what time does he get to his grandmother's house, that child's not going to know what concrete or a curb is.” A second public consultation was held in Stephenville, NL on February 13th. CBC

BC partners with FNESC, IAHLA, and higher ed institutions on First Nations Language Degree

BC has announced that it is funding the development of a new Indigenous Language Fluency Degree. “First Nations languages are the original languages of this province, and are a critical component of our identity as First Nations peoples,” says First Nations Education Steering Committee President Tyrone McNeil. “The First Nations language fluency degree initiative is an opportunity to directly support First Nations language revitalization and the implementation of the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework.” Community consultations were undertaken by the FNESC and the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, which have partnered on this project with postsecondary institutions such as Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a, En’owkin Centre, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Northern British Columbia. The proposed degree program would include two years of language instruction in communities and the final two years at a public postsecondary institution. BC Colleges

NU, NTI provide $3M for Inuit training fund

12 different training initiatives targeted to help Inuit people find jobs in the private and public sectors have received $3M in funding from the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. The training will be delivered by the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation. “By funding these important projects, Makigiaqta started a process to help Nunavut Inuit obtain the skills needed to seek and maintain employment in all areas of Nunavut’s economy,” NTI President Aluki Kotierk said in the release. “This path will lead us to healthy families, healthy communities, and healthy Inuit. This is what we envisioned when we negotiated Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement.” According to Nunatsiaq Online, the specific projects to be funded were selected based on how closely their work matched Makigiaqta’s priority areas: “holistic adult learning programs, advanced adult learning programs, wrap-around supports for Inuit students in K-12 and post-secondary, early childhood development and Inuktut and Inuit culture in the workplace.” Nunatsiaq Online | APTN News

Indspire, UWinnipeg partner to support 80 FNMI students in coming year

Indspire and the University of Winnipeg have partnered to support 80 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students through the creation of a new award. The University of Winnipeg/Indspire Indigenous Awards Program will provide students with demonstrated financial need with an award of $4.4K. Administered by Indspire, the awards program has been made possible through fundraising efforts and cost-sharing by UWinnipeg, as well as matching funds from the Government of Canada. “I am delighted The University of Winnipeg has shown its leadership and willingness to meet a critical need,” said Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire. “Research shows that a lack of funding is a key impediment for Indigenous students who are striving to complete their post-secondary education.” NationTalk | UWinnipeg

BC links Aboriginal students to jobs through community-based partnerships

British Columbia’s Ministry of Advanced Education has announced that it is funding partnerships to connect Aboriginal students with education and training programs in their communities. Funded initiatives include partnerships between the University of Northern British Columbia and the Tsilhqot’in National Government, College of New Caledonia and the Saik’uz First Nation, and Justice Institute of British Columbia and the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre and Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council. These programs provide Aboriginal learners with workplace skills such as basic computer literacy, along with job-specific skills for sectors such as construction, tourism, and education. Overall, the program is providing $9.6M to support a total of 28 partnerships between 29 Aboriginal communities and 14 public postsecondary institutions in 2016-17. BC