Indigenous Top Ten

May 3, 2017

“Most Canadians do not know enough to know what they don’t know” on Indigenous issues

“Amid celebrations, a vigorous debate has erupted over the gap between the Canadian federal government’s promises to Indigenous peoples and what might charitably be termed the muted delivery on those promises,” write the University of Alberta’s Tracy Bear and Chris Andersen for the Globe and Mail. The authors highlight a number of examples to illustrate what they argue is a continuing ignorance and historical inaccuracy that still shapes many Canadians’ understanding of Indigenous peoples and cultures. “Part of the issue,” they add, “is that most Canadians do not know enough to know what they don’t know.” The authors conclude that “[w]ithout a concerted effort on the part of all Canadians, the old adage that ‘failing to learn from the past ensures its inevitable repetition in the future’ is not just a foreseeable reality but a certainty.” Globe and Mail

SK First Nations schools share knowledge, successes to spread on-the-land learning programs

First Nations schools from across southern Saskatchewan have come together to collaborate on the creation and implementation of on-the-land learning initiatives. Last month, students and teachers within the Treaty 4 Education Alliance came together to share land-based education programs being implemented at their schools. “We're losing our culture in a very fast pace, but we're slowly bringing it back for them,” said Conrad Desjarlais, the cultural coordinator with Kawacatoose First Nation, who expressed hope that similar events would encourage more students to learn “these ways of our people.” “It's actually really influencing because I can take what I'm learning back… and show the others and the community what we could do to engage more traditional things in our school,” commented Grade 10 student Bavanne Cote. “I want to teach my sisters how to hunt, and my brothers can be taught how to make a hand drum or to set up a teepee.” CBC

RRC holds official opening of campus’s first sweat lodge

Red River College elders, leaders, and students came together in a ceremony to mark the official opening of RRC’s first sweat lodge. “Today is a very important day as we continue our work to infuse Indigenous culture, knowledge and teachings across our College,” said RRC President Paul Vogt. “Indigenous student success is a priority at Red River College, and that means providing culturally relevant student supports to help remove barriers and create more pathways to success for our Indigenous learners.” RRC explains that each sweat lodge ceremony has a different purpose, but are used to give thanks; to heal; to seek wisdom; and to purify the mind, body, and soul. RRC

AB college nearly quadruples enrolment for First Nations students after adopting new technology

A northern Alberta college for First Nations students is seeing dramatic changes in enrolment and retention rates after transforming its teaching methods and interactions with students. Located eight hours north of Edmonton, Kayas Cultural College recently upgraded its videoconferencing equipment to create what college representative Kyle Trumpour says is “basically a giant tablet you’re hanging on the wall [that is] is allowing us to create what I like to call a seamless virtual classroom.” The technology reportedly tracks the movements of instructors who may be on different campuses, and displays whatever they write on the tablet’s surface from other locations. Since the changes were made, enrolment at the school has leapt from 13 students in the winter 2013 semester to 50 students in the winter 2017 semester. Global News

MNO, UOttawa move forward with working group to facilitate collaboration, communication

The Métis Nation of Ontario and the University of Ottawa have established a formal working group that will see greater collaboration and ongoing communication facilitated between the two parties. The parties will be working on a renewed partnership, and collaborating on a number initiatives such as the development of community-based resources, a Métis speaker series for the coming school year, and holding a Métis Academic Conference in Spring 2018 that focuses on the history, way-of-life, and contemporary experiences of Ontario Métis. The MNO release describes how the working group builds on previous partnerships and collaborations between the two groups. MNO 

Northwest Angle 33 First Nation to receive satellite campus for Anishinaabe school

Kiizhik School, an Anishinaabe immersion school in Kenora, is opening a satellite campus in Northwest Angle 33 First Nation, which means that students will no longer need to make the long trek into Minnesota by boat or winter ice road to attend school. Kiizhik School launched in Kenora in 2015 to immerse Anishinaabe students in their language, culture and traditions and is taught by an entirely Indigenous staff. “We've lost so many families because they've had to move where their children can attend school,” said Northwest Angle 33 Elder Josephine Sandy. “Having our own school and finally being able to raise our children here will be life-changing for us.” CBC reports that the First Nation has hired two local educational assistants and a nutritionist, and that there are plans for a proper school with full-time staff that would be attached to a new band office. CBC

Canada invests in SIIT, SaskPolytech infrastructure needs

The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Saskatchewan Polytechnic will receive nearly $2M from the Government of Canada in order to update and develop new infrastructure on their campuses. SIIT will receive $1.7M for infrastructure improvements, such as upgrades to its ventilation system. SaskPolytech will use their $260K to construct the Hannin Creek Education Research Facility in partnership with the Saskatchewan Wildlife, which the institute describes as the only facility of its kind in Western Canada. “Investments in the infrastructure of our post-secondary system help our students and support our economy,” said SK Minister of Advanced Education Bronwyn Eyre. “The projects being funded at Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Saskatchewan Polytechnic will enhance learning and research facilities, creating better learning environments for our students.” Canada | CBC

HRSB considers starting each day with recognition of Mi'kmaq lands

The Halifax Regional School Board is considering adding a statement to be made at the beginning of classes each morning, along with the announcements and the national anthem, which would acknowledge the schools’ and students’ locations on Mi’kmaq land. “I think it would have just been kind of an affirmation for them to be proud of who they are and to embrace their culture … and talk about it more and teach their friends,” said the school board's elected Mi'kmaq representative, Jessica Rose, who added that it would be important for the statement to be accompanied by appropriate education. “Just a spiel at the beginning of the day definitely is not enough. But I think it's a move in the right direction and I think it can grow from there.” The proposal will need to be voted on and approved before it is introduced, but school board representative Jennifer Raven expressed hope that the statement will be in place for September. CBC

Indigenous researchers join March for Science

Professors, students, and advocates took to the streets in 18 protests across Canada last week to show their solidarity with the more than 500 protests that were held around the world  to protest US President Donald Trump's position on climate change and on science. Over 1,500 Indigenous scientists, academics, doctors, and professionals rallied with their allies to voice their support for the March for Science in a letter that demanded, “Let our Indigenous voices be heard.” “There's a perception within the Academy that Indigenous knowledge is less than and it's not as privileged as the Western way of understanding the world,” said Gladys Rowe, a Cree PhD student from the Fox Lake Cree Nation. “In Canada, specifically, a lot of institutions talk about 'Indigenizing'—but when you actually get down to the work of it, there's so many barriers and a lot of those barriers have to do with what is framed as science.” CBC (Indigenous) | CBCWinnipeg Free Press

SFU Aboriginal University Transition Program threatened with cancellation

An instructor at Simon Fraser University’s Aboriginal University Transition Program is speaking out against the institution’s announcement that they will be cancelling the program. “It’s the only program at SFU that has the capacity to support Indigenous students,” says Natalie Knight, who explains that the program blends Indigenous ways of knowing with traditional academia. “If we want Indigenous people to go through university, we have to make adjustments to curriculum, and AUTP does that.” SFU Vice President of Academics Peter Keller notes that the program has seen a decline in enrolment, adding that “to allow a program to continue, which doesn't attract the numbers, it's unsustainable.” iNews 880AM reports that SFU has posted a note on its website stating that the university is “taking a pause to explore new approaches, and re-envision” its programs. iNews 880 AM | CBC