Indigenous Top Ten

June 14, 2017

Report calls for overhaul of special education funding for First Nations students

A federally-funded report has called for a complete overhaul of special education funding for First Nations students from Ontario reserves in order to provide stability and predictability. “A new model is needed that is bottom-up, holistic, uncapped, flexible, eligible for carry-over between years, and indexed,” the report states. “A binding legal guarantee of adequate and equitable funding is critical to ensuring funding adequacy.” The report stems from a human-rights challenge launched in 2009 by the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation over inadequate special education services for children living on reserves in the province. The report makes 27 recommendations, which include increased funding for students in northern and isolated communities and funding for training local people to become special-education staff and specialists. “This is a good example of the good things that can happen when the government works with First Nations, not against us,” commented Chief Stacey LaForme, Chief of MNCFN. “We are focusing on solutions, and on taking action now. If the governments continue to work with us, we can help give our children a better future starting today.” NationTalk (CP) | NationTalk

UManitoba launches Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing

The Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba has launched its Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing—Ongomiizwin. The initiative, known as Ongomiizwin/Clearing a path for generations to come, is reportedly the largest Indigenous education and health unit in Canada in terms of its scope and mandate. The new institute will work directly with Indigenous knowledge keepers and elders to advance excellence and provide leadership in research, education, and health services in collaboration with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. “As we establish this Faculty-wide institute, we are clearing the path for tomorrow’s children – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – to be educated as dentists, dental hygienists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and rehabilitation therapists in a culturally safe place where Indigenous knowledge and relationships are formally recognized,” said Catherine Cook, vice-dean of Indigenous health at the Rady Faculty. UManitoba

Students, community speak out against 'Cowboys and Indians'-themed grad party

Many are speaking out against a “cowboys and Indians” themed graduation party that was held by students from the Chinook High School in Lethbridge this month. “My culture isn't a costume and it's never going to be,” said high school student Tieja Medicine Crane. “I don't think people understand the extent of what they are doing. They don't understand the spiritual meaning of war paint, headdresses, the feathers and the dancing.” The Calgary Sun further reports that Medicine Crane has received support from many people, including Piikani Nation Chief Stanley Grier. Grier recommended that the school district integrate further education on First Nations people and culture into its curriculum, in addition to providing counselling in response to the incident. Lethbridge School District 51 said that the party was not school-sanctioned and that the district was unaware of it happening. The school has reportedly addressed the issue in an assembly. Calgary Sun | Calgary Sun

NWAC Partners with ESDC to Develop an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and Economic and Social Development Canada (ESDC) have partnered on the development of an Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework that will ensure culturally-appropriate child care that reflects the unique needs of First Nations and Métis children and families. “It is unacceptable that Indigenous children continue to receive poorer services than the non-Indigenous children of Canada,” said NWAC Interim President Francyne Joe. “Our culture recognizes the value of each individual and celebrates their gifts in a way that gives our children a strong sense of self-worth and belonging; their childhoods are incomplete without learning these values and practicing these traditions.” NWAC and ESDC have reportedly already begun grassroots engagement with many different stakeholders in order to better inform the development of the framework. NationTalk

Dechinta pilot program sees students earn UBC credits for paddling Peel River

The Yellowknife-based Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, which CBC calls the Northwest Territories’ ‘bush university,’ has partnered with the Youth of the Peel Society on a pilot program that sees students earn university credits for paddling the Peel River. The university credits are received from the University of British Columbia. “I think we all fell in love,” said Angela Koe-Blake, a youth from Tsiigehtchic, NWT. “Hearing all the stories from elders, all you can do is imagine it. We just couldn't believe our ancestors and our grandparents walked these trails with their own two feet.” Bobbi Rose Koe added that the program was for anyone who wanted to learn more about the importance of protecting the Peel watershed, as well as Indigenous history and culture. CBC states that this year’s trip will start on McClusky lake in the Yukon and end in Fort McPherson, NWT. CBC

UVic to remove name of first BC lieutenant governor from residence, citing racist actions

The University of Victoria will remove the name of British Columbia’s first lieutenant-governor from one of its residences, citing his racist views and poor treatment of First Nations peoples. The Times Colonist reports that Trutch frequently referred to First Nations peoples in derogatory ways, and even refused to acknowledge the British mandate of fair treatment, ignoring treaties and titles in order to provide more land for white settlers. The change was reportedly inspired by a petition started by Lisa Schnitzler, who said she was in her second year of English and Indigenous studies when she examined the background of the building in which she lived. She posted a petition to Facebook, which garnered nearly 100 signatures in support and some criticism. “There were a few people who said everyone was racist back then and that we can’t erase history,” said Schnitzler, who says that she replied to the criticism with the motto, “we’re not erasing history, we’re confronting it.” Times Colonist

Dal moves Indigenous Student Centre to larger space

Dalhousie University has announced that it will grow the size and capacity of its Indigenous Student Centre to increase the number of visitors and “virtually eliminate any barriers to performing sacred smudging ceremonies.” In an email to the entire campus community, Dal said that its existing Aboriginal Student Centre has been renamed the Indigenous Student Centre and that its location will be moved to a larger space with proper ventilation for smudging. “I'm feeling quite positive for the new space,” said Aaron Prosper, the co-president of the Dalhousie Indigenous Students’ Collective, who added that smudging is “a fundamental thing within all of our different ceremonies and traditions.” The new Indigenous Student Centre will also feature a library and outdoor area. CBC

Regina teacher who beat the odds helps other teen moms graduate

Regina Shirley Schneider Support Centre teacher and coordinator Nicole Morrow helps Indigenous teen moms graduate through a unique program, reports CBC. Morrow earned her high school diploma over seven years while giving birth to three children, and then went on to earn her teaching certificate from the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) at the University of Regina. Now, Morrow coordinates a daycare that currently houses 36 infants and 12 toddlers while the children's’ mothers attend Balfour Collegiate. Various resources are made available to both the mothers and babies through the support centre that Morrow coordinates, including food, bus passes, and clothing; two full-time support workers; a nurse practitioner and health workers; an addictions counsellor; and an Elder. “I'm always happy to come to school. [...] They're very understanding because they know we have children," commented Taye Starr Bellegarde of the Star Blanket Cree Nation, who moved to Regina to enroll in the program. “I'm getting good grades and I'm able to just walk down the hall to daycare to see her.” CBC

LiUNA, AFN sign historic Statement of Partnership

The Labourers' International Union of North America will sign a historic statement of partnership with the Assembly of First Nations that will affirm LiUNA’s commitment in support of the findings of the TRC, the UN Declaration for Indigenous People, and the education and training of First Nations communities. “Education and training are the keys to a brighter future for young First Nations men and women,” commented national Chief Perry Bellegarde. “As we work to close the gap and build strong communities and healthy homes, this partnership with LiUNA will help to ensure First Nations are at the fore of this development, and advancing in the areas of construction, waste management, and health care.” “LiUNA strongly believes that together we can build a strong partnership with an emphasis on training and education as youth are the future builders of our growing economy,” added LiUNA International Vice President Joseph Mancinelli. Morning Star (Newswire)