Indigenous Top Ten

April 5, 2017

Queen’s TRC Task Force delivers final report, recommendations

A Truth and Reconciliation Task Force at Queen’s University has delivered its final re­­­port on how the university can meet the calls to action in the national TRC report. The task force has issued 25 recommendations, which include a call for new bridging and pathway programs to increase postsecondary access for Indigenous youth, further efforts to ensure Indigenous candidates are represented in administrative roles, and the creation of spaces that honour Queen’s location on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. “Today, our communities come together to change course,” said Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf. “By taking steps to ensure that Indigenous histories are shared, by recognizing that we can all benefit from Indigenous knowledge, and by creating culturally validating learning environments, we can begin to reduce barriers to education and create a more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse university.” Woolf also announced that Queen’s will be creating an Office of Indigenous Initiatives in the coming months. Queen’s (1) | Queen’s (2)

Canada invests in skills, WIL, Indigenous learners with 2017 budget

The federal government has introduced a new budget that focuses on skills, innovation, and Indigenous learners. Among the budget’s PSE highlights is an investment of $90M over two years to support the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, a federal initiative that distributes non-repayable financial support to Indigenous students attending higher education; as well as a $5M per year investment in Indspire. “Any investment is a big improvement … from the previous government because we weren't receiving anything,” commented Chief Bobby Cameron, head of the Saskatchewan-based Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. “In fact, we were going backwards.” The budget further included funding for 25 “Canada 150” Research Chairs; support for Mitacs’ goal of providing 10,000 work-integrated learning placements every year for Canadian postsecondary students and graduates; the creation of a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada; and expanded eligibility of the Canada Student Loans Program to include part-time students and students with dependents. Universities Canada | CBC (1) | CBC (2) | APTN

UManitoba introduces Qualico Bridge to Success transition program for Indigenous students

The University of Manitoba has introduced the new Qualico Bridge to Success program, which aims to improve the transition of Indigenous students into postsecondary education at UManitoba. UManitoba notes that highlights of the program include one-day summer camps prior to the summer term, the Neechiwaken Indigenous Peer Mentor Program, and student advising. “The University of Manitoba is committed to creating a strong foundation for Indigenous students,” says Christine Cyr, director of the Indigenous Student Centre. “This program will allow us to promote Indigenous student success in meaningful and intentional ways.” The program was developed through a $1M donation from real estate company Qualico to UManitoba’s Front and Centre campaign. There is no cost to the students to participate. UManitoba (Announcement) | UManitoba (Program description)

USudbury to cut Indigenous courses from satellite sites after funding not renewed

The University of Sudbury has announced that it will be cutting Indigenous courses from its satellite sites after losing funding, which CBC says will leave up to 50 postsecondary students “in limbo” with their degrees. Nine courses in Indigenous studies are currently offered at sites in Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Attawapiskat, and Kashechewan; however the funding received from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada will reportedly not be renewed next year. While students would be able to finish their degrees if they moved, Professor Emily Faries states that “that means uprooting, not only themselves, but most of the students have families.” Faries further added that being able to access education along the James Bay coast had previously helped with personal advancement and self-sufficiency. CBC

“Politics, power, money” are the reasons Canada has no Arctic university: Saul

“Canada remains the only circumpolar country without fully-fledged universities in the Arctic,” said essayist and author John Ralston Saul at a recent speaking engagement in Iqaluit. Saul criticized the decision not to pursue a university in Canada’s Arctic, a decision that he says “marginalizes northern culture, and the full role of the Inuktitut language in the development of Northern expertise.” Saul argued that one of the reasons Canada does not create a university in the Arctic is because centres of Arctic expertise and funding are currently located in the country’s south, and that there are vested interests that want to keep them there. Speaker Laura Arngna’naaq, director of finance for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Yellowknife, highlighted many of the difficulties faced by students who wish to study at a university but do not wish to leave the north: “The culture shock and isolation of ending up in a larger city can be just as daunting. Without a network and support, I see Nunavummiut give up their studies prior to completion, to return home.” Nunatsiaq

PSE students, Innu community teach one another about medicine

Grade 6 to 12 students in the Innu community and postsecondary students from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dalhousie University, and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine took part in a program that encouraged the two groups to teach one another about medicine. Titled Seeing Beyond Good Medicines, the program saw postsecondary students deliver health care profession simulations to the students from the Innu communities, while Innu elders, healers, and youth shared their knowledge of healing practices with the undergraduate students. “The medical students were able to meet and ask elders questions about Innu medicine,” said Kanani Davis, an educator and Innu consultant with the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation Health Department. Davis also noted the benefits of Innu youth having the opportunity to try out different health professions: “they need to see themselves in this field and there’s no better way to do this than to experience it first-hand.” MUN

All-women Indigenous drumming group at high school inspires confidence, pride

An all-women Indigenous drum group at Thom Collegiate in Regina has given participating students confidence and the opportunity to connect with their culture. “What I like the most about it is that you get to meet all these new people,” said tenth grade student Shanikwa Noname, who found that the group made transitioning to the school much easier. “Some of these girls aren't even in my grade, but you make a bond with them.” The article discusses some of the traditions around drumming, and how these impact the different members of the group. “We do know that it has happened a long time ago and now we don't see it as much within our region,” said Dawne Cassell, the Aboriginal advocate teacher at Thom Collegiate. “Our female elder in the school ... said 'it has been done before, and I think that it's really important because it allows these girls to share their voice,' and I thought that was really cool.” CBC

UOttawa signs MOU announcing collaboration with NCTR

The University of Ottawa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. UOttawa states that by signing the MOU, it has committed itself to strengthening Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples in three ways: by deepening the understanding of Indigenous knowledge and culture among all students, staff, and faculty members; by increasing the university’s engagement with Indigenous communities; and by exploring innovations in teaching and learning to foster Indigenous student success and increase understanding of Indigenous peoples among all students. “We are thrilled to see the University take up the challenge of the Truth and Reconciliation journey,” said Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. “We look forward to working closely together to advance Truth and Reconciliation in this country.” UOttawa

BC Aboriginal Housing Society proposes ‘urban village’ including schools, apartments

The Aboriginal Housing Society of Prince George has proposed the building of an “urban village” in Prince George, BC that would include houses and apartments, elder and child care, educational and support services, a community garden, and space for spiritual and cultural practices. “It's basically taking a very holistic approach ... and making sure that all the things that are needed to make a neighbourhood successful are there,” said Christos Vardacostas, executive director of society. “[To] be born in one place and to grow up there with your family, be able to go to school, be able to be a student, be able to work, raise a family, and to age in place ... I see this as being the future.” CBC

Lethbridge, Saamis partner on Powerline Technician program for Aboriginal community

Lethbridge College has continued its partnership with Saamis Aboriginal Employment and Training Association and partners to support a Powerline Technician program intake that is specifically for the Aboriginal community. Lethbridge states that, on top of powerline technician-specific training, the program includes essential skills training that will improve participant success and employability. “This is a wonderful opportunity for Aboriginal people in Lethbridge and area to take part in the Powerline Technician program,” says Saamis Executive Director Anita Neefs. “This industry-supported partnership had a tremendous result last year and is a fantastic opportunity for individuals to get into a high-demand career.” The program has been funded by Alberta Labour, Community Futures Treaty Seven, and the Rupertsland Institute - Métis Centre of Excellence. Lethbridge | Lethbridge Herald