Indigenous Top Ten

November 1, 2017

Lethbridge College receives Indigenous name at Indigenous Celebration Day

Lethbridge College recently held an Indigenous Celebration Day, during which the college was granted the Blackfoot name “Ohkotoki’aahkkoiyiiniimaan,” which means Stone Pipe, by Kainai Elder Peter Weasel Moccasin. Weasel Moccasin explained that stone pipes are used in sacred ceremonies of the Blackfoot people to make an offering to Iihtsipaatapi’op, the Source of Life, and have historically kept the Blackfoot people at peace. “We have so much knowledge, talent, expertise and leadership among our local Indigenous population and this is our chance to really celebrate that,” says Shanda Webber, Lethbridge College’s manager of Recruitment and Indigenous Services. “Indigenous Celebration Day is about celebrating our pride, history and knowledge of all First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, as well as creating a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for all.” The celebration day included a traditional feast of Buffalo stew and bannock, along with several events. NationTalk | Lethbridge Herald | Lethbridge College

AB Education provides lesson plans for Indigenous history, culture in schools

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen unveiled newly revised lesson plans for Grades 1 through 9 that will teach students in the province about Indigenous history and culture, including the legacy of residential schools. “We will break down barriers and continue to build understanding and work to make sure that every child in Alberta and teachers and support workers have an enhanced learning experience to advance reconciliation,” said Eggen. While the lesson plans can be used at the schools’ and teachers’ discretion, a new K-4 curriculum containing elements of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit history and culture in all subjects will be revealed next year, as well as curriculum for the later grades. “Now is a time like no other in Alberta history. We have the opportunity and responsibility to teach the truth and to provide an accurate account of our Canadian society,” said Tony Alexis, Chief of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. NationTalk | Global News | CBC  

MacEwan raises Treaty 6, Métis Nation flags; NS universities raise Mi’kmaq flag

MacEwan University has permanently raised Treaty 6 and Métis Nation flags on its campuses. “This is one act of reconciliation that is very important both in its message and its sacred meaning for us as Indigenous peoples,” said Grand Chief Willie Littlechild. “This is a historic and meaningful day for MacEwan University and the community,” added MacEwan President Deborah Saucier, who became the university’s first female Indigenous president earlier this year. CBC reports that universities across Nova Scotia have all recently announced that the Mi’kmaq flag will be a permanent feature of their campuses. The announcement would have been unheard of 5 to 10 years ago, noted John Paul, executive director of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat, adding that “the flag was never given that significance across Nova Scotia, across Atlantic Canada.” MacEwan | Edmonton Journal (MacEwan) | CBC (NS)

Indigenous mother's 11-year battle for disabled son's transportation to be settled with INAC

An 11-year battle between an Indigenous mother and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (now the Department of Indigenous Services) over transportation funding for 15-year-old Noah Buffalo-Jackson may be coming to an end. Noah lives with cerebral palsy, and CBC reports that INAC denied his family funding for specialized transportation since he began school. “These [First Nations] children have rights to education like any other child — and I'm not even talking about treaty rights to education,” said Carolyn Buffalo, Noah's mom, who later added that the government would have provided for his needs if he had been “born off-reserve, and a member of mainstream society.” Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott reached out to Buffalo earlier this month to notify her that they were looking into resolving the matter. “The family should have received these services and should not have had to fight for over a decade to have this resolved,” said Philpott. “We have been in contact with the family's legal counsel and it is our intention to have a settlement reached in the very near future.” CBC

Ermineskin Cree Nation open new alternative school

The Ermineskin Cree Nation have formally opened their new school, the Ehpewapahk Alternate School. The name Ehpewapahk means “the sun is rising or morning sun” in Cree. The school has been outfitted with the latest technology, including smart boards and solar power. The school features four classrooms, study rooms, a library, a workout facility, a commercial-sized kitchen, a lounge and offices for the staff, and a space for the students to relax. The school will offer Outreach and Alternate programs that have been developed to meet various learning requirements in a flexible learning environment. The school celebrated its grand opening on October 20 with an opening prayer, drums, singing, and speeches. The building project received $4.1M from the Government of Canada and $400K from the Erminekin Cree Nation for completion. NationTalk | ATCOSC

Catholic PSE moves forward with “ambitious plans” with Indigenous communities

Catholic colleges and universities in Canada have woken up to the call for truth and reconciliation, writes Michael Swan of the Catholic Register. “I don’t really see that a university or a place of learning has a valid claim to the pursuit of truth and reason if it isn’t looking at all these factors that really have textured our society, both good and bad…. It would be self-evident to say that reconciliation is one of the calls of our times,” said Gerry Turcotte, Chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada and President of St Mary’s University. The article discusses Turcotte’s recent report on the efforts of Catholic institutions to learn about and teach Indigenous heritage, before going on to discuss specific partnerships and projects that institutions such as Saint Paul University and St Mary’s University have embarked on with Indigenous communities. Catholic Register

UWinnipeg, UBC, UFV celebrate new Indigenous art on campus

As part of a live art project, Ojibwe artist Jessica Canard asked strangers and passersby to help paint a Community Connections mural at the University of Winnipeg. “[Art is] just about bringing people together from different backgrounds, different social circles, that wouldn't normally get the chance to connect or cross paths,” said Canard. Passersby were invited to take a handcrafted stamp to imprint pictures on triangular panels. The stamps depicted images that represent the Seven Sacred Teachings and plant medicine significant to the Ojibwe, Cree, and Métis peoples who live on Treaty 1 territory, where UWinnipeg is located. At UBC’s Point Grey campus, Master Haida carver James Hart has put the final touches on UBC’s reconciliation totem pole, which was raised at Point Grey earlier this year. At UFV’s Abbotsford campus, the commissioned art works of several local Indigenous artists—including Francis Horne Sr (Tsawout), Annabelle Stewart (Skwah), and Yvonne Joe (Tzeachten)—were recently unveiled. CBC (UWinnipeg) | CBC (UBC) | UFV

Bowser Elementary School asks RDN for additional funds for outdoor learning space

Bowser Elementary School is looking to the Regional District of Nanaimo to double its pledge of $30K for an outdoor learning space that teaches about local First Nations. The school’s Tulnuxw Lelum Cultural Learning Space project includes a fire pit, a garden of local flora, and a traditional Aboriginal building that is currently under construction. The building was originally estimated to cost $50K, but Bowser Teacher Laura Bonnor and other organizers submitted a letter to the RDN Committee of the Whole explaining that “construction costs throughout the process have continued to escalate” with unforeseen costs and price increases. Bonner added that the additional funds would allow the project to continue while the organizers work to secure donations from elsewhere. The committee has unanimously passed a motion to allocate up to $60K and extend the deadline. The motion has yet to be carried by the RDN board. PQB News

Lakehead raises tipi on Orillia campus to address lack of “Indigenous visible presence”

Lakehead University’s Orillia campus has raised a tipi in order to create a visible Indigenous presence on campus. “Raising a tipi on campus is a culturally significant moment for Lakehead Orillia,” said Dean Jobin-Bevans, the Principal of Lakehead Orillia. The tipi was placed next to the Wiigwasitig Gitigaan Lakehead Community Gardens, and was celebrated with an event that included a smudging ceremony, as well as traditional Indigenous songs, prayers, and the Coldwater Ojibway Singers. “The tipi and surrounding gardens are a part of a living, growing, gathering place for learning and sharing of ideas between students, faculty, and staff,” said Allysha Wassegijig, Aboriginal Initiatives Coordinator at Lakehead Orillia.  “We want to make sure that Lakehead University is a welcoming place, where Indigenous peoples, history, and way of life are celebrated through education, respect, and diversity.” Lakehead | Orillia Packet

Vancouver school to be renamed Xpey’ school

The Vancouver Courier reports that Sir William Macdonald elementary school, located in Eastern Vancouver, will be renamed the Xpey’ Elementary school. The school reportedly became an Aboriginal focus school in 2012, and the name change is reportedly two years in the making, with over 30 names submitted for consideration by 45 people. CBC explains that the name Xpey’, which translates to “cedar” in the Hul'q'umi'num' dialect, was suggested by Chief Wayne Sparrow and council members of the Musqueam lndian Band. The name references Cedar Cove, the name of the original school built on the site in 1905. “I'm pleased that the renaming committee recommend this name, which reflects both the Indigenous heritage and education history of the area,” said VSB Official Trustee Dianne Turner, who formally approved the name change on October 23rd. “It is important for the District Aboriginal Focus School program that the school has an Indigenous name.” CBC | Vancouver Courier | VSB (Memorandum)