Indigenous Top Ten

March 22, 2017

UQAT announces creation of new research laboratory on Indigenous women’s issues

The University of Quebec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue has announced the creation of the new Laboratoire de Recherche sur les Enjeux Relatifs aux Femmes Autochtones—Akwatisiw. UQAT states that the laboratory was developed in response to the need for more research projects addressing Indigenous women’s issues, and that it will fulfill a number of objectives including the creation of a research directory related to Quebec studies concerning Indigenous women, identification of research projects relevant to Indigenous women in QC, analysis of existing government programs, and research on the role of Indigenous women in territorial governance and consultation processes. Several organizations have chosen to partner with the laboratory, which will be led by UQAT School of Aboriginal Studies Professor Suzy Basile. UQAT

FNU project brings Cree children's books to SK

The First Nations University of Canada has partnered with Prince's Charities Canada to help revitalize Indigenous languages in Saskatchewan by developing books for young readers. The project has seen five Indigenous language children’s books translated and edited by FNU faculty and alumni. The books have been written in the Cree dialects of Swampy, Woods, and Plain, and feature phonetic pronunciation of Cree words along with their English translations. “One of our missions at First Nations University is to help support Indigenous culture in every way that we can, and language revitalization is critical,” said FNU Vice-President Academic Lynn Wells, adding that FNU plans to continue to work with Prince’s Charities Canada on producing more books in more languages across SK and Canada. CBC

Lake St Martin First Nation signs construction plans for new $18M school

The Lake St Martin First Nation has officially signed construction plans for a new $18M school that will support students up to Grade 12 on the reserve, and which is estimated to be ready for Fall 2019. The school will feature 12 classrooms, a soccer field, a baseball diamond, and a skating rink. “The children are very excited,” said Chief Adrian Sinclair. The band was relocated to Winnipeg after the community was flooded with divested floodwaters in 2011, at which time students were moved to a school in Winnipeg. “We can't go out there and make a fire and teach kids how to make a fire or go out to make outdoor tea and stuff like that. We had the freedom to do that when we were home,” commented Lake St Martin School Vice-Principal Susan Ryle-Munroe, who expressed concern with how young Lake St Martin students would adapt when the community moves to its new reserve. CBC

Canadian universities unveil new features, hold powwows in honour of First Nations peoples

Multiple Canadian universities have announced new features or events on campus in honour of First Nations peoples and the territories that their campuses are built on. Simon Fraser University unveiled a red cedar Squamish Welcome Figure, hand-carved by Squamish artist Jody Broomfield, which seeks to honour and raise awareness of the traditional Coast Salish territories on which SFU is located. The University of Toronto held a powwow recently, its first in 20 years, which featured dancing, drumming, singing, food, and workshops. Thompson Rivers University held a weekend-long reconciliation powwow, while the University of British Columbia has announced that a Reconciliation Pole carved by Haida Hereditary Chief James Hart will be installed in the manner of a traditional Haida pole raising on April 1st. UBC | SFU | CBC (UToronto) | TRU

UVic to offer first-in-Canada certificate in Indigenous nationhood

A first-of-its-kind program in Indigenous nationhood at the University of Victoria will now offer a graduate certificate to those who complete the program. The new certificate program trains students at an advanced level to examine the challenges and opportunities facing Indigenous nations that strive to revitalize their political and legal traditions and governance structures. Students will encounter case studies, forms of knowledge, and theories related to the political, legal, economic, and social realities of Indigenous nations and peoples. “There are calls for leadership and knowledge coming out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” says Program Director Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark. “This multidisciplinary program trains students to be ready to do that work.” UVic

NU introduces proposed changes to Education Act of 2008

CBC reports that Nunavut has seen the introduction of a bill that would result in a number of changes to the territory’s 2008 Education Act, including a change in the role of district education authorities and the postponement of the government’s deadline for offering bilingual education. The deadline is slated to be postponed to 2029 for Grades 4 to 9 and indefinitely for Grades 10 to 12. “The lessons learned from 2008 up to today were really the catalyst for the whole review,” said NU Deputy Minister of Education Kathy Okpik, who acknowledged that the government must greatly increase Inuktut-language capacity and “standardize vocabulary for use in curriculum for programs of study.” York University Professor Ian Martin predicts that only 4% of Inuit will speak Inuktitut at home by 2051, and blames this language loss on a number of “roads not taken” by the country and the territory’s Department of Education in particular. Nunatsiaq Online reports that sections of NU’s Inuit Language Protection Act and the Official Languages Act that enforce the use of Inuktut in the private sector will come into force on July 9, 2017. CBC (Martin) | CBC (Bill 37) | Nunatsiaq Online | Nunatsiaq Online (language)

FNU, Katimavik partner to provide Indigenous youth with postsecondary education, job skills

First Nations University of Canada and Katimavik have announced a partnership that will see Indigenous youth provided with more opportunities for successful postsecondary learning and job skills training in order to pursue their life goals. In particular, the partnership will see Indigenous youth participate in Katimavik community service volunteer employment while studying at one of FNU’s three campuses. “This is a great opportunity for Indigenous youth to continue their higher education including their traditional culture and language,” says FNU President Mark Dockstator. “By working with Katimavik we will be able to share collective values that have been passed down countless generations in Indigenous communities with young women and men across Canada.” The two partners have also announced that they will collaborate on effective ways to engage Canadian youth from across the country in reconciliation initiatives. FNU

NS troubled by high suspension numbers for Indigenous students

First Nations leaders and education advocates in Nova Scotia say that they are concerned by the disproportionate number of Indigenous students being suspended at a northern provincial school board. CBC reports that a recent data analysis found that Indigenous youth make up nearly a quarter of suspensions at the Strait Regional School Board, although they represent only 5% of the student body. “I'm not very happy about that at all,” said Chief Paul Prosper of the Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation. School Board Director Paul Landry says that the board has implemented a number of measures to address the suspension problem among Indigenous students, which include adding more student services support, making greater use of a school psychologist, and hiring more Indigenous staff. CBC also reports that the board is weighing the possibility of giving students the opportunity to attend band-run schools. CBC

Kugaaruk to receive portables for temporary classrooms, expresses thanks for charity efforts

The Government of Nunavut has announced that it will purchase six portables to serve as temporary classrooms in Kugaaruk until a new school is built to replace the one destroyed by a fire in February. Nunatsiaq Online reported that the greatest challenge for the project will be getting the materials to Kugaaruk, as its location in an ice zone has prevented commercial shipping companies from delivering goods directly to the community in the past. “Right now, we have plans to ship those portable classrooms by ship and if that can’t be done we’re trying to look at other ways,” commented NU Minister of Education Paul Quassa. Nunatsiaq Online also reported that NU MLAs approved a last-minute change to a government bill in order to secure more funding for the replacement of school facilities in Kugaaruk. CBC reports that donations and offers to help teachers and students get back to class have been pouring into Kugaaruk since the fire occurred. “We had to slow down with charity and donations because transportation means are not prepared for this kind of disaster and this magnitude of charity," said Jerry Maciuk, principal of Kugaardjuq School. “I was astounded by the immediate reaction from Canada. This is our Canadian spirit.” Nunatsiaq Online | NV | CBC | Nunatsiaq Online

Cumberland to launch Elders-in-Residence program

Cumberland College has announced that it will introduce an Elders-in-Residence program at its campuses in Nipawin, Melfort, and Tisdale. The program will offer students an opportunity to meet with Métis and First Nation Elders from around the region to engage in traditional teaching on various topics. All three Cumberland College campuses will have elders available on Monday and Friday, rotating between First Nation and Métis. Cumberland President Tom Weegar says that the response from the elders has been positive, adding that “elders will be able to connect with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and guide them or help them face issues like financial trouble, problems with family or even stress around midterms.” paNOW