Indigenous Top Ten

March 21, 2018

USask student leaders propose new Indigenous students’ union

Indigenous student leaders at the University of Saskatchewan say that they want to create an independent students’ union to better address the needs of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students on campus. Indigenous Students’ Council President Regan Ratt-Misponas was joined by representatives of three other student groups in calling on USask administrators to recognize the proposed Indigenous Students’ Union. “It’s about being able to have a platform for our authentic Indigenous student voice to be heard,” said ISC president Regan Ratt-Misponas. USask Vice-Provost of Indigenous Engagement Jackie Ottman said that her meetings with the ISC and other groups have been positive, and that the university supports student groups looking to formalize their governance structures. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Acadia decolonization strategy promises collaboration with Mi’kmaq

Acadia University has released a decolonization strategy that responds to the TRC’s “challenge to Canadian universities to make themselves more accessible to indigenous students and to find new ways engage more directly with First Nations communities.” Acadia President Peter Ricketts emphasized that “collaboration with neighbouring Mi’kmaq communities and their leaders” is a crucial pillar for the strategy, which reportedly incorporates “15 short, medium, and long term actionable recommendations” made by the President’s Advisory Council in 2017. The recommendations include the creation of a full-time position for an Advisor and Coordinator of Indigenous Affairs, a Mi’kmaq language course, and a recruitment and retention plan for Indigenous faculty. Acadia

BC Gold Trail District poster about white privilege draws criticism from parents

A poster campaign at British Columbia’s Gold Trail District that intended to create conversations about racism and priviledge has drawn criticism from some parents. The poster at the centre of the debate features district superintendent Teresa Downs alongside the words: “I have unfairly benefited from the colour of my skin. White privilege is not acceptable.” Downs stated that the school district decided to launch the campaign as part of a conversation about colonization, racism, and prejudice, and noted that much of the recent criticism seems to stem from parents who misunderstand or struggle with the term “privilege.” University of Calgary education professor Darren Lund noted that backlash of this type is not uncommon, but noted that acknowledging and discussing privilege is a more effective way to push past inequality and hierarchies than methods such as the “colour blind” discourse. Globe and Mail | Global News

Council of Yukon First Nations assumes responsibility of Yukon Native Language Centre

The Council of Yukon First Nations has assumed responsibility and administration of the Yukon Native Language Centre from the Government of Yukon. A YK release explains that the centre provides services related to training and certifying new Yukon First Nations language teachers, preservation and documentation, and curriculum and learning resource development. The council requested a full transfer of control in light of the critical priority that Yukon First Nations have placed upon the revitalization of their languages. “The centre will now be better positioned to ensure that its programming and services directly support Yukon First Nation language priorities,” said Council Grand Chief Peter Johnston, “CYFN will continue to work with both the federal and territorial governments to advocate for Yukon First Nations languages.” YK | NationTalk

McGill celebrates official launch of Indigenous Health Professions Program: Eniethi’nikonhraiéntho’

McGill University officially launched its Indigenous Health Professions Program at the beginning of March. At the official launch, the program also received the Mohawk name Eniethi’nikonhraiéntho’, which means ‘we’ll plant a seed in their mind.’ “Canada is a leader in the world for its recognition of Aboriginal midwifery. We are moving toward the restoration of the meaning and practice of indigenous ways of knowing,” said midwife Katsi Cook. “It is my radical hope that with this new program we will launch more love, compassion, and kindness into the world.” IHPP Director Kent Saylor is collaborating with Indigenous consultants and the McGill Faculty of Education on initiatives such as the Eagle Spirit Camp that aim to encourage Indigenous students to consider healthcare careers. McGill

Educational initiative to offer comprehensive perspective of First Nations contributions to Canada

A new initiative is being launched that will see the development of an education program providing students a more comprehensive perspective of First Nations contributions to the defence and shaping of Canada. “There was little evidence in classroom materials of important historical and contemporary events involving Indigenous peoples, their knowledge, and perspective,” commented education project director Tim Johnson, “ and little or no integration of those events into the larger narratives of Canadian history.” The education program, titled Landscape of Nations 360°: A National Education Initiative, includes components from K-12 and was developed to complement a memorial in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Johnson explained that teacher training for the program will begin shortly, with the rest of the program to be developed over the next few years. The program will be launched first in schools in the Niagara region, and then across the country. Brantford Expositor

ON colleges continue to work with Indigenous students: province

All 24 of Ontario’s colleges have incorporated Indigenous knowledge into their service and programs, according to a newly released report from the provincial government. In addition to courses and modules geared toward Indigenous knowledge and issues, every Ontario college reportedly provides an Indigenous counsellor as well as an Indigenous council advisory group. “Incorporating Indigenous language, culture, identity and community in education is a key step towards reconciliation,” said ON Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Mitzie Hunter. Sault College Dean of Indigenous Studies Carolyn Hepburn adds that although it will take years to fully develop policies and programs with Indigenous stakeholders, “colleges are committed to providing Indigenous students with the education and supports they need and deserve to be successful.” Fanshawe | Lambton

FSIN, Canadian Light Source renew partnership to teach youth science

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and Canadian Light Source (CLS) have signed a memorandum of understanding renewing a partnership to teach First Nations students about science. “We’re always looking for opportunities to share the magic of discovery with young people,” CLS science director Dean Chapman. “We know kids benefit from early exposure to science. To be able to coordinate our efforts with the FSIN to reach even more youth is a fantastic opportunity.” “It highlights the understanding that science and math have always had an important connection to our traditional lands and waters,” added FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron, who noted that the collaboration promotes the importance of First Nations culture and traditional knowledge. Global News  

“It opened my eyes”: Inuit play helps participants understand their culture

Nunavut students in Ottawa have put on a play called the Inuit Story that focuses on select moments and events in Inuit history, such as residential schools, re-location and the dog slaughter. “It is an important story for other Canadians to know,” said Larissa MacDonald, an instructor at the school who is helping with the production. “We see our students just lift with pride as they become ambassadors for Inuit, and advocate for Inuit. It also shows a hope for the future.” Justin Milton, a second-year student from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, said that the play helped him to better understand his past and his culture, and that he hopes to spread awareness of the story among people in Ottawa. “Giving them an awareness of our history will give them a better understanding about why we face barriers with housing and alcoholism,” said Milton. “It's really powerful.” CBC

Racist graffiti at NS school sees students stay home

Hundreds of students from the Nova Scotia First Nation who attend East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy recently stayed home from school as the RCMP investigated threats and racist graffiti. Racist slurs against Indigenous and black people were found spray-painted Monday in four spots on a school bus and on a sign near the K-12 school. At least one person was also reportedly heard making verbal threats against the school. “The individual heard someone in person make these threats, they went home and posted a comment on social media what they had heard,” said RCMP Corporal Dal Hutchinson. “As a result, it had a ripple effect through the community and that's when someone contacted RCMP in Antigonish.” The school was briefly closed at the advice of the police, and reopened with a police presence on-site. National Post | CBC