Indigenous Top Ten

April 4, 2018

Saskatoon, SIIT formally ink agreement supporting students

Saskatoon’s City Council has formally inked an agreement between the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research. “One of the most tangible things is to identify and make sure that … the qualifications and the training that students are getting here are going to set them up to be able to compete with anybody else for positions,” said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark. Clark explained that the agreement will make it easier for graduating students to get good jobs and create a more representative workforce in Saskatoon. The mayor further noted that giving young Indigenous people opportunities to succeed is vital to the health of the economy. Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Sudbury researcher receives $2M for Indigenous children’s healthcare

Laurentian University's Nancy Young, Research Chair in Rural and Northern Children's Health, has reportedly received a $2M grant from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Young researches barriers for health care among rural Indigenous children, and is currently working on a project that consists of a partnership with eight local communities. “I'm extremely grateful to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for this grant,” said Young. “This research is very important for children living in remote communities where health services are locally planned and delivered.” The Sudbury Star adds that the project will also evaluate the effectiveness of the Holistic Arts-based mindfulness program, as well as the Right to Play program Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY). Sudbury Star

MB school powwow dancing club grows to nearly 80 students, sees community involvement

A club focused on teaching powwow dancing at the Lavallee School in the Louis Riel School Division of Winnipeg has grown to nearly 80 students. The club is open to all students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. “We're working hard to go beyond accepting or understanding Indigenous culture,” said Louis Riel Co-ordinator for Indigenous Education Corey Kapilik. “We want to promote Indigenous knowledge systems, and ways of knowing and being into the fabric of who we are and how we do business on a daily basis.” Teachers, community volunteers, and parents are also a part of the club. The community helps to ensure that students learn the appropriate way to dance at powwows, and the Division is providing supplies to help parents make regalia for their children. “It's very important to us that students have the opportunity to be who they are and to be celebrated for culture and what they bring to us as a community,” stated Kapilik. CBC

UCalgary course applies Indigenous traditions to current legal system

A new course offered at the University of Calgary uses Indigenous legal traditions to examine current events and legal decisions. Taught by Professor Kathleen Mahoney, Indigenous Legal Traditions engages students with guest speakers and a guided field trip to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park in Alberta. UCalgary notes that Indigenous legal traditions are an emerging area of law in Canada, and that there has been a trend in recent years toward incorporating more Indigenous legal traditions into general legal systems. “Learning about an independent legal order which is fundamentally different from the one I’ve studied in my other classes allows me to think critically about the other areas of law,” said second-year UCalgary law student Hannah Hunter-Loubert. UCalgary also recently introduced an online tool that provides educators with access to contemporary Indigenous education resources. UCalgary (1) | UCalgary (2)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Nusdeh Yoh meet to share ideas, discuss successes and challenges

A contingent from Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools has taken a field trip to Prince George, British Columbia to learn from the Nusdeh Yoh Aboriginal Choice School. Nusdeh Yoh is an Aboriginal Choice school that places additional emphasis on First Nations culture, history, language, and values. The Nanaimo-Ladysmith team met with a team from Nusdeh Yoh for discussion before touring the school. Nusdeh Yoh discussed its successes and challenges openly with visitors, while Snuneymuxw councilor Emmy Manson explained how, for some, the school offers learning for the spirit and heart as well as the brain. “It’s really given us ideas and motivation to continue moving forward, because this work is challenging,” said Anne Tenning, Nanaimo-Ladysmith Vice-Principal of Aboriginal Education. Nanaimo Bulletin

Dechinta concerned about potential loss of public funding

New territorial legislation might exclude the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in the Northwest Territories from long-term public funding, CBC has learned. According to a recently published discussion paper, Indigenous institutes would be considered private entities, a decision that Dechinta calls “fiscally and socially irresponsible.” “I think everybody wants and deserves accountable, highest quality post-secondary [education] and that we need to support all of the institutions in the NWT,” said Erin Freeland Ballantyne, Dean of Land Based Academics, Research and Innovation at Dechinta. NWT’s Department of Education, Culture and Employment has stated that private institutions remain eligible for contribution agreements and grants. CBC

To improve the student achievement gap, target the teacher development gap: UAlberta prof

The achievement gap – a measurable difference between Indigenous student success rates in school and overall student success rates – is an issue that many leaders wish to resolve. However, many critics and commentators have pointed out that a failure to address racism, history, and knowledge gaps in the education system may hinder the ability to close this gap. University of Alberta Associate Professor Rebecca Sockbeson explains that racism is one of the main reasons Indigenous students leave school early. “We need to back up from that question and think,” said Sockbeson, who explained that the term achievement gap tended to put a focus on the students instead of the system. “It’s really a teacher development gap.” The Edmonton Journal goes on to highlight concerns about how well prepared Alberta’s teachers will be for the new expectations that will take effect in September 2019, and how various school boards are attempting to handle racism and a lack of knowledge at their schools. Edmonton Journal  

Algonquin students build Indigenous drums

Algonquin College students have constructed a large traditional drum on each of the institution’s campuses to be used in ceremonies and gatherings as part of a college project to instill Indigenous traditions in the college’s culture. “For many Indigenous people, the drum is the heartbeat of Mother Earth; that’s what one of our Elder’s shared with me,” says Algonquin Manager of Indigenous Initiatives Andre O’Bonsawin. “What we’re trying to do with this project is embed Indigenous knowledge and cultural teachings in the College.” The drums were made under the guidance of Indigenous Elders using traditional materials and craftsmanship. Cree drum-maker Dave Hookimaw said that he was happy to see non-Indigenous students participating in the event, as they often lack opportunities to be exposed to the culture. “I just think it’s always good when you can bridge two communities together,” said Algonquin Student Kate Greenland. “And the idea that this (drum) is going to be used forever was really special.” Algonquin | Ottawa Citizen

Colleges, Nations across Canada partner on education 

Several colleges and First Nations from across Canada have announced partnerships focused on the delivery of education. Songhees Nation and Camosun College have partnered on the delivery of a culinary arts, hospitality, and tourism management program in the Nation’s community. The 12-month program will provide students with Professional Cook level 1 certification and a work placement upon completion, and involves a full range of supports to ensure student success. Red Deer College and Sunchild First Nation have signed an MOU to support the educational needs of learners from the First Nation, with an emphasis on the transition from high school to PSE and trades certification. The College of New Caledonia and Cheslatta Carrier Nation have signed an MOU that creates a strong foundation for a future working relationship and continuing work on providing community-based programs to the community of Cheslatta. Times Colonist (Camosun & Songhees)CNC (Cheslatta) | RDC (Sunchild)

UManitoba students lobby for Indigenous language education

Noah Wilson, co-president of the Aboriginal Students Association at the University of Manitoba, is leading the ReconciliAction campaign, which will lobby Canadian universities to create official degrees and diplomas in Indigenous languages. “It's about bringing light to the TRC Calls to Action, and ensuring that the calls to action are being implemented,” Wilson told CBC. The campaign’s launch featured panels that included elders, students, and administrators. According to CBC, UManitoba President David Barnard praised the campaign and stated that the university is committed to implementing Indigenous language education. “Language is an important part of who we are. The TRC is addressing those things that have been taken away, and mainly one of those things was the language,” said UManitoba sessional instructor Aandeg Muldrew. Muldrew added that he is excited about the possibility of having Indigenous language programs at a university level, though he wishes that Indigenous language degrees were already available. CBC