Indigenous Top Ten

June 28, 2017

Postsecondary schools across Canada open Indigenous centres, art pieces, rename schools

Many postsecondary schools across Canada announced the grand opening or renaming of schools, the establishment of art pieces, and more in honour of Indigenous peoples and in celebration of National Aboriginal Day. Mount Saint Vincent University became the first university in Nova Scotia to raise a wikuom, also known as a wigwam, on its campus, which will serve as a space for Indigenous gatherings and education at the university. Laurentian University opened the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre, and the University of Sudbury hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction of the University of Sudbury Sacred Fire Arbour. York University renamed the Hart House “Skennen’kó:wa Gamig” to create a safe space for Indigenous peoples. Trent University formally named the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies. The University of Winnipeg and Ebb and Flow First Nation unveiled a new collaborative public artwork, an etching entitled ASIN, inspired by ancient Indigenous medicine wheels. MSVU | Sudbury Star (USudbury) | CBC (Laurentian) | York | Trent | UWinnipeg

Algoma, Shingwauk students vote not to participate in Canada 150 events

The Algoma University Students’ Union voted unanimously last week not to sanction or endorse any events related to the celebration of Canada 150. The campaign to refuse participation in Canada 150 events was led by Algoma student Quinn Meawasige, who argues that “those policies at the time of Confederation were designed to eliminate the Indigenous people. What it was founded on was broken treaties, and it was founded on, essentially, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, because they needed to make way for settlement . . . . I just don’t feel like celebrating that.” Students at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, which has a formal relationship with Algoma, have also voted to oppose Canada 150 celebrations on Algoma’s campus. Algoma has issued a statement saying that it has planned a number of special events on campus for the country’s 150thbirthday, but that it also recognizes the negative effects of colonialism and that it is important to acknowledge that Canada must continue to address historical issues. Waterloo Region Record | | Soo Today  | Algoma

Frontier College to offer free literacy camps in over 140 communities

Frontier College will be offering free literacy camps to 8,000 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit children aged 5 to 15 this summer in over 140 Indigenous communities. The camps were started in Northern Ontario 12 years ago in an effort to support student success and reduce summer learning loss. Literacy camps will be offered in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Labrador, Yukon, and Nunavut. “We know how important it is to keep kids learning during the summer months, to ensure they return to school confident and ready to succeed in the school year ahead,” said Frontier College President Stephen Faul. Bill Sainnawap, Director of Education at Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, added, “many of our students take advantage of camp every summer and benefit from it in terms of enhancing their reading as well as cultivating their enquiring minds. The camp is a valued complement to our education programming.” Globe Newswire

SNP marks institutional milestone at convocation

Six Nations Polytechnic in Ohsweken, Ontario marked a milestone in its institutional history earlier this month with the first-ever convocation of students from the Bachelor of Arts in Ogwehoweh Languages program. Two Row Times explains that this is also the first time an Indigenous institution has accredited a standalone degree. After SNP received ministerial consent to grant the degree in December 2015, it offered graduates of the Ogwehoweh Language Diploma the opportunity to complete an additional year of study to obtain a Bachelor of Arts Degree. “I’m very proud of all the students who are graduating today,” said Tom Deer of SNP. “As an instructor and coordinator for the language program, I have seen firsthand how much the students have grown and how far they’ve come over the last few years. It is now their turn to carry on with the work that we’ve been doing at Six Nations Polytechnic to continue speaking the language and using it in their everyday lives.” Two Row Times | Turtle Island News

Fisher River Cree Nation, Northwest Angle 33B discuss new schools

Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba has broken ground on its new grade 7 to 12 school, which will provide an expanded and modern learning environment for middle and senior year students. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada provided the nation with $10M for the construction of the school, which will have classroom space for about 225 students, as well as facilities for home economics and industrial arts, a gymnasium, library, computer lab, cafeteria, and outdoor recreational areas. “The community already has a proud history of growth and prosperity and has achieved economic success by working in conjunction with government and private business partnerships,” said Chief David Crate. The school is due to be completed in September 2018. APTN National News also stated that Bimose Tribal Council is excited about a new school in Northwest Angle 33B, Ontario which is expected to be built and ready for the fall and will remove the need for students to commute to school. NationTalk (Fisher River Cree Nation) | APTN News (Northwest Angle 33B)

Yukon collaborates with Selkirk First Nation on new program

Yukon College has collaborated with the Selkirk First Nation to launch the Essential Skills project, a new pilot program on the college’s Pelly Crossing campus that will see students build a raft and travel from Fort Selkirk, Yukon to Minto Landing, British Columbia. The program has students work with Elders and instructors to learn Northern Tutchone; make and use fish traps; prepare camps; and discuss decolonization, Indigenous governance, and self-determination. “The idea behind land-based programming is that students become empowered through meaningfully connecting to cultural and traditional skills and this empowerment then translates into academic and employment success,” said John Reid, Department Head for Northern Region at Yukon College. NationTalk | CBC

KPU offers new, unique Indigenous community justice minor program

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is launching what it calls a first-of-its-kind Indigenous Studies program focused on community and justice. “My hope is that this minor will play a role in honouring, acknowledging, and respecting Indigenous peoples,” said KPU criminology instructor Lisa Monchalin, who developed the program. “Canada is Indigenous land, it always has been, and it always will be.” Access to Indigenous content and learning methods will be ensured through ongoing input from KPU’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee, and courses in the program will be taught by Indigenous instructors and instructors with practical community justice experience using Indigenous teaching techniques. “There is an urgent need for awareness and capability regarding Indigenous justice issues in an array of professions, particularly in service delivery, education, economics, geography, and criminal justice,” commented Arts Faculty Dean Diane Purvey. KPU states that students of the program will learn how to challenge false assumptions, identify the impact of colonialism, explore systemic and institutional racism, critically assess government and corporate intrusion on Indigenous rights and lands, and more. Newswire | Indspire

Students from six Victoria schools gather to perform Sacred Circle

Students from six schools in British Columbia joined together earlier this month to perform a stage production called the Sacred Circle. Based on a work by Chief Wedlidi Speck of 'Namgis First Nation, the play brought together students from Esquimalt High School, Spectrum Community School, Shoreline Middle School, Craigflower Elementary, Victoria High School, and SJ Willis Education Centre. “The First Nations students are coming forward to share their stories, their traditions, their ways of being, with the community,” said Sarah Rhude, School District 61's Aboriginal art and culture facilitator. Students participating in the project have reportedly learned about Indigenous culture over the past year by creating traditional regalia, some of which was featured in the show. Yahoo | CBC

Indigenizing western campuses brings unique challenges: NYT

An article that appeared this month in the New York Times examines the efforts of the University of Saskatchewan and other Canadian institutions to indigenize their offerings and aid in reconciliation efforts. Supporters of these indigenization efforts say that the university degree can be a “long-term cure for many of the insidious ills afflicting aboriginals” from unemployment to incarceration, while detractors argue that the effort is “redwash” or “assimilation by a different name.” “Universities are so inherently white and Western, when you start to push against it, you realized how intractable a lot of that is,” commented USask President Peter Stoicheff. “Everything is based on reading stuff. […]  Look at the aboriginal ways, from visual expression to the wampum belt, dances and oral storytelling. It’s not linear. Everything is based on the circle.” The article discusses the new buildings, programming, and extracurricular activities that the university has introduced to this end, as well as how the Indigenous community on and off campus have responded to these offerings. New York Times

Wunnumin Lake, other FNs hope to expand high schools in light of Thunder Bay deaths

Wunnumin Lake high school plans to add grades 11 and 12 to its offerings, as many remote First Nations will be looking to alternatives to city-based high schools after the recent deaths of nine Indigenous students in the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. “The chief has told me that [grades] 11 and 12 are an important issue for the community and for himself, which has been long-standing, but I think it was greatly precipitated by the things that have been happening in Thunder Bay,” said Dean Cromarty of Wunnumin Lake First Nation. Cromarty explained that the nation will need to negotiate with Indigenous and Northern Affairs to break outside its usual funding formula to include the older high school grades, as the current funding formula would require the nation to have more enrolled Grade 11 and 12 students to offer classes. CBC