Indigenous Top Ten

October 4, 2017

New FN schools opened and celebrated across the country

First Nations have been celebrating the opening of new schools across the country. In British Columbia, the Esk’etemc First Nation has officially opened the community’s new Sxoxomic School, which features three classrooms for its K-7 students, a gym, a kitchen, a pow wow circle, and a preschool space. In Saskatchewan, the Whitecap Dakota First Nation is celebrating the opening of the new Chief Whitecap School, which was developed through a partnership with Saskatoon Public Schools and offers a Dakota-influenced curriculum to its K-8 students. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Samiajij Miawpukek First Nation has officially opened Se’t A’newey Kina’matino’kuom, a K-12 facility that will include a daycare, dental clinic, and Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve program facility. NationTalk (Esk’etemc) | CBC (Miawpukek) | CTV News (Chief Whitecap)

VIU, Yukon launch first-of-its-kind program to support Indigenous students

Vancouver Island University and Yukon College have partnered to launch a new initiative that seeks to remove barriers for Indigenous learners, increase enrolment, and help roughly 800 students complete their programs of study. The program reportedly offers financial assistance, textbooks, and living allowance; as well as emotional, cultural, and spiritual support by recognizing and honouring Indigenous culture. “For me, as an Elder, this is an exciting partnership. We have people that are doing well, but many are not. With this learning partnership, we are providing additional support to reach deeper into the communities to young people we don't usually see, but who need someone to believe in them,” explains Xulsimalt – Gary Manson, an Elder-in-Residence at VIU and member of Snuneymuxw First Nation. “This is a start to creating more hope rather than hopelessness.” The Globe and Mail reports that the program is the first of its kind in Canada. Globe and Mail | VIU

Organization calls for education audit of Nunavik

The Makivik Corporation has called for an independent audit of Nunavik’s education system in order to understand why students in the region receive a “sub-standard” education. The corporation first called for an audit last spring, when the region learned that secondary school graduates were not receiving diplomas. “We do a lot of studies in other areas, on housing and on the cost of living in the region, but I don’t think there’s ever been a study on education,” said Makivik President Jobie Tukkiapik. “We hear a lot of complaints about the education system and the low number of graduates in Nunavik. So we want to understand what the issues are.” Tukkiapik stated that Makivik believes that the audit should be conducted by a third-party firm and compare graduation rates in the region to those of other Quebec regions, and added that QC Premier Philippe Couillard's government has indicated support for an audit. Nunatsiaq Online  

Northern MB First Nations turn to educational assistants, non-certified teachers in face of shortage

Northern Manitoba First Nations are reporting a shortage of at least 36 teachers, which has forced some band-operated schools to turn to non-certified teachers, retired substitute teachers, and educational assistants to run the classroom. “We're seeing what happens when we don't properly fund our schools and our children are the ones that are suffering the most at no fault of their own,” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, who explained that the chronic problem is putting First Nations students at a disadvantage. Educational directors from multiple MB First Nations point to a number of issues that contribute to the issues, including inadequate funding and the remote location of many nations, and suggest that the solution will include training more First Nations teachers from the affected communities. CBC

USask community members say much work left to be done on Indigenization

Some members of the University of Saskatchewan community say that they are concerned about the school’s current plans to Indigenize its campuses, particularly with respect to the school’s goal of making Indigenous content mandatory for all students. The curricular changes are reportedly set to take effect two years from now, but there are reportedly not nearly enough professors in the school’s department of Indigenous studies to teach this content to all of the school’s 21,000 students. “Who's qualified? What's their background to teach this information?” asks USask Indigenous studies Professor Priscilla Settee. “It's one thing to have goodwill and that, but really it needs a deep understanding of the many realms that it intersects with, like historical, cultural, political, gender—all of those issues that it takes a lifetime to learn, to learn the accurate history.” CBC

Ojibway language program popularity leads elementary school to create waiting list

A bilingual Ojibway language program at École Riverbend Community School in Winnipeg has reportedly been so popular that the school has started a waiting list. “We're noticing that a lot of kids don't have a connection to their cultural background. We are noticing that a lot of people are losing the language,” said Vice-Principal Jennifer Lamoureux. “That connection to home and to your family is really important so we wanted to revive that.” The program was created after elder Mary Courchene and University of WInnipeg Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs Kevin Lamoureux spoke to educators about the importance of revitalizing language. Principal Fortunato Lim notes that there have been challenges with the program, which include finding enough teachers who are fluent in Ojibway and selecting which of three dialects to develop the curriculum around, but adds that the school hopes to ultimately offer Indigenous language courses up to Grade 12. CBC

UWindsor dedicates Turtle Island Walk in recognition of First Nations land

The University of Windsor has officially opened Turtle Island Walk, a pedestrian thoroughfare that was named in recognition of the First Nations history of the land that the university’s campus was built on. UWindsor explains that the land is the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy, an alliance of the Anishinaabe people. The new walkway features seating areas, art work, and a green space, as well as a series of plaques that display the Seven Teachings of the Ancestors. “Turtle Island Walk is a celebration of First Nations people and cultures, and a landmark to their history and their future in our region”, said UWindsor president Alan Wildeman. “The Seven Teachings guide the ancestral inhabitants of this land, and they resonate with the aspirations of a university. I thank everyone who helped make Turtle Island Walk a reality.” Windsor Star | UWindsor

Federal, NU governments sign bilateral agreement on early learning and child care

The Government of Canada and Government of Nunavut have signed a three-year bilateral agreement on early learning and childhood in Nunavut. The agreement includes funding of $7M over three years for investments that will focus on early learning and child care programs and services to support parents, families, and communities. “The Nunavut Department of Education believes in the positive outcomes associated with access to Early Learning and Child Care programs and services,” said NU Minister of Education Paul Aarulaaq Quassa. “This partnership sets the framework for our governments to work toward a shared long-term vision; one where all young Nunavummiut can have the best possible start in life, and allow them to reach their full potential.” NationTalk

Lethbridge to permanently fly Blackfoot Confederacy flag

Lethbridge College has committed to permanently flying the Blackfoot Confederacy flag on its campus as part of an ongoing effort to acknowledge and celebrate the school's location on the traditional land of the Blackfoot people. A college release reports that the flag will serve as a symbol of the school's commitment to ensuring that its students’ learning includes knowledge of the Blackfoot people. “As a member of the Blood Tribe community and Lethbridge College family, the raising of the flag will hold pride, honour and be a reminder that while our Blackfoot grandparents and parents endured a past we cannot even imagine through residential schooling, today’s generations are able to choose any education path they want,” says Marcia Black Water, Lethbridge College Indigenous Services coordinator. Lethbridge Herald | Lethbridge

The process of learning to include Indigenous knowledge in the classroom

“Teaching is a deeply personal act for most of us,” writes University of Toronto OISE Distinguished Professor Kathleen Gallagher. “But this year is different from others. There is a new duty felt by teachers at all levels of our education system to make good on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls to action, creating both a critically important opportunity and an unease about our preparedness.” Gallagher writes about how she learned to include Indigenous knowledge in the classroom and “decolonize” teaching habits. This includes learning more from Indigenous writers, considering how these readings could be investigated by students, and learning from resident Elder Cat Criger.  “Guided by humility about what we don’t know and listening carefully to those who do, will keep us on a good path,” concludes Gallagher. NationTalk (CP)