Indigenous Top Ten

April 19, 2017

Indigenous studies are here to stay, says professor

“Indigenous programs are here to stay and it’s time to accept that,” writes Adam Gaudry, a Métis Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta. Gaudry touches on the pervasive logic suggesting that Indigenous programs are “a kind of equity uplift meant to temporarily ‘bridge the gap’ by providing Indigenous students with less competitive (that is, easier) programming,” and points out the errors in this position. Instead, Gaudry recommends turning attention to how Indigenous Studies behaves not as a transition program, but as a program that allows “Indigenous peoples to work with Indigenous and allied knowledges to address the needs of their community, in an atmosphere of support from academics and community alike.” The author concludes that accepting this reality will allow universities to put energy towards creating a more robust and self-sufficient Indigenous intellectual community on campus. Queen's

Bill restores democracy in Northland School Division

The Government of Alberta has tabled a bill that would see a governance structure introduced for the Northland School Division to support the education needs of First Nations and Métis students in the area. The Northland School Division Act would introduce a governance structure with wards and elected trustees, the replacement of existing school boards with school councils, and the creation of a formal engagement process that strengthens the community’s voice in education. “Community voice is so important to the success of our children,” said Rita Marten, Athabasca Tribal Council Director of Education and Elder with the Mikisew Cree First Nation. “Expanding the advisory body to a school council model will ensure all First Nations and community members in Northland School Division have a voice in supporting student learning, while having the flexibility to ensure the unique needs of their community are considered.” NationTalk (1) | NationTalk (2)

UNB elder speaks on resistance, resiliency in anticipation of serving as Canada 150 ambassador

While many First Nations people are reportedly boycotting Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation celebrations this year, University of New Brunswick elder in residence Imelda Perley has agreed to take on the role of ambassador for the event. Perley tells CBC that when she first received an invitation to serve as ambassador, she suspected that the invitation was a calculated effort to offset the impact of #Resistance150, a social media campaign that aims to highlight how Indigenous peoples have resisted government policies since the time of European settlement. Perley adds, however, that “as long as I can promote the resilience of my people as opposed to the resistance of my people, … I would be willing to showcase our resiliency.” CBC

Indigenous students require better orientation, more resources for transition to university: study

Indigenous students need better orientation supports when they arrive at university, according to a new study by researchers at Université de Québec à Montréal. The study’s authors met with 12 current or former UQÀM Indigenous students and found that malaise, isolation, and difficulty in finding one’s way through Montréal’s subway system were just some of the barriers faced by Indigenous students. “When I arrived [in Montreal], I was stressed because of the traffic. In the subway, I was panicking,” says Terry Randy Awashish of the Attikamek Nation. The researchers also noted that some students find the transition particularly difficult because they are moving to a large city after growing up in a community where they know virtually everyone. Other barriers  for these students included a lack of understanding around the library borrowing system and a lack of confidence due to previous experiences with racism. Journal de Montréal

Greater Essex County sees growing Indigenous student body, increases supports

Indigenous education at the Greater Essex County District School Board has been receiving more dedicated resources in light of an increasing number of students self-identifying as First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. Blackburn News reports that over 470 students have self-identified as Indigenous, a significant increase from the 100 students who identified as such when the board first began the self-identification process. “The program is growing because we have First Nations, Metis and Inuit staff within our board that can provide that programming,” says Tina Decastro, a teacher consultant with the board. GECDSB reportedly offers Oneida language courses for credit at two high schools, language courses for students and parents after school, and in-class learning supports that aim to honour the way Indigenous students learn. The school board is also looking to adopt an Indigenous Education Protocol similar to those implemented at Canadian postsecondary institutions, a move that DeCastro believes is a first for school boards. BlackBurn News

Classes resume in Kugaaruk, students expected to complete year despite losing school to fire

Classes have resumed in Kugaaruk for many students after losing their school to a fire in late February. Kugaardjuq students in Grades 10 through 12 have been attending classes in temporary classroom spaces across the community, while students in Grades 1 through 9 recently started studying again after safety and sanitation codes had been met. “We’re going to make sure they can all graduate,” Principal Jerry Maciuk said. “This is a record number of grads for us and we’ll make sure we get them up on stage for everyone to celebrate.” Six portable classrooms are expected to arrive in the community by next fall, coinciding with the beginning of the new school's construction. Officials from Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services are hosting public consultations on how to construct the new school, which will be built at the site of the former one with an increased capacity of about 400 students. Nunatsiaq Online | CBC

Saskatoon school finds unity through Cree program

Saskatoon's Confederation Park Community School is finding a spirit of unity among its student population through a program that allows any student in Saskatoon to learn the Cree language and be exposed to Indigenous cultural activities. The program is offered in partnership between Saskatoon Public Schools, the Saskatoon Tribal Council, and the Central Urban Métis Federation. “Just by looking at the visuals they can figure it out,” said language teacher Pete Chief. “They are speaking the language; whenever they come up to do the exercise, they are actually speaking the language. It brings them a whole sense of identity and pride.” The program allows students to take part in or witness activities such as drumming, feasts, smudges, and powwows. CBC

Unlocking the potential of Indigenous youth vital to Canada’s success: VIU president

Canada’s federal budget contains encouraging new funds for Indigenous education, writes Vancouver Island University President Ralph Nilson, but Canadians must remember that Indigenous peoples continue to face significant barriers to PSE. Nilson adds that the current PSE attainment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is “not only an issue of social justice, [but] a major economic issue.” Nilson applauds recently announced funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, changes to the Canada Student Loan Program, and $25M in new funding to Indspire, for how they will benefit Indigenous learners. “When government talks about building a prosperous future, it must remember that unlocking the potential of Indigenous youth is vital to that success,” Nilson concludes. Vancouver Sun

NCTR, Katimavik partner to make reconciliation a core part of youth development

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and Katimavik have agreed to collaborate on making Truth and Reconciliation a key part of Katimavik’s community-based youth development projects. The agreement commits the two organizations to educate, empower, and engage diverse youth volunteers in the development and implementation of a new relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and justice between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Canada. “We are excited to have Katimavik join the journey toward Truth and Reconciliation with the NCTR,” said Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. “Engaging Canada’s youth in tangible and meaningful ways will move Reconciliation forward for this generation and into the future.” NationTalk

Camosun opens new satellite training centre on Songhees Nation Territory

Camosun College has announced the opening of a new satellite campus located on Songhees Nation Territory. Formerly known as IMTARC (Industry Marine Training and Applied Research Centre), the Camosun Coastal Centre will include two state-of-the-art classrooms that can accommodate up to 40 people each and a 12-station computer lab. At this new location, Camosun plans to continue its programming in coastal and marine-related Contract Training courses, offer customized programs for Indigenous communities, develop new offerings in Continuing Education, and deliver rental space for external education and industry providers. “We expect to grow Camosun’s partnerships with First Nations communities, marine industries, the Department of National Defense, and the City of Esquimalt,” said Camosun’s VP Partnerships, Geoff Wilmshurst. Camosun