Indigenous Top Ten

May 16, 2018

CEGEP, Cree Trappers Association announce college-level program teaching Cree lifestyle

Cégep de Saint-Félicien and the Cree Trappers Association have spearheaded a new program, the Eeyou-Ituun Traditional Pursuits Training Program, which will teach the fundamentals of the Cree traditional lifestyle. The 900-hour, one-year vocational certificate program will teach skills such as hunting, trapping, and fishing; building traditional dwellings; and other related skills. Cree land users and elders, as well as accredited instructors from the CEGEP will lead the program. “The program being recognized by the government of Quebec really shows a recognition vis-a-vis Indigenous people,” said CEGEP instructor Yves Marchand. “And in engaging with this process, Indigenous people are recognizing this could be a useful tool in helping to train their people.” CBC

CBC Edmonton, Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation partner on high school credit course

CBC Edmonton and the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation partnered on the CBC/Alexis Media Mentoring and Training program, which allowed students to earn high school credit by sharing a story. Students were connected with indigenous mentors from CBC, the media industry, the education sector, and their community. “I think it's pretty cool having them here,” said student Tanisha Alexis, who published a story on language. “It's not something we get to see everyday so we should take advantage of it while it's right in front of us.” The stories cover a diverse range of topics and include a discussion of traditional Sioux foods by 16-year-old Jeremiah Alexis, a poem about the Nation as home by an anonymous 15-year-old, and a story about discovering the beauty of Sioux culture by 15-year-old Sunshine Potts. CBC (1) | CBC (2)

Yukon launches first made-in-YK Bachelor Degree program

Yukon College has received approval from the Government of Yukon for its new Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance and has announced that it is accepting students into the three-year program. “This first made-in-Yukon degree is a shining example of Yukon College’s commitment of collaboration with Yukon First Nations,” said Yukon President Karen Barnes. “We have developed the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance in partnership with all 14 YK First Nations and it is much stronger due to their guidance and input.” The program includes all courses from the First Nations Governance and Public Administration certificate program, as well as new Liberal Arts electives and six new courses. Students will benefit from the experience and insight of YK First Nations leaders, Elders, and former Chiefs. “This is the greatest news,” said Yukon student Meta Williams. “I am so happy there is a degree I can take here in the Yukon and don’t have to move outside to complete my education.” Yukon (1) | Yukon (2)

ON invests in Gichi Kendaasiwan Centre at Lakehead 

The Province of Ontario has announced that it is investing $10M over three years in an Indigenous learning centre at Lakehead University, the Gichi Kendaasiwan Centre. The Gichi Kendaasiwan will serve as a hub for Lakehead Indigenous students as well as the wider community. The building will include classroom and meeting spaces, a gathering and performance space, support services, and academic departments devoted to Indigenous-specific programming. It will also house technology and resources intended to improve access and outreach to remote communities. “When students travel from far away to go to school, it’s important for them to feel welcomed and at home,” said Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation David Zimmer. “The Gichi Kendaasiwan Centre supports this by providing a culturally appropriate space filled with programs and opportunities for students, families, and community members to come together and practice their traditions while engaging in lifelong learning.” ON

Winnipeg-based Niji Mahkwa School celebrates 25 years

Niji Mahkwa School, an elementary school in Winnipeg that infuses Indigenous language and teachings into its curriculum from nursery to Grade 8, held a special pipe ceremony to mark its 25th anniversary. “What makes Niji Mahkwa both special and unique and successful is the fact that we integrate traditional knowledge and ceremony into our day-to-day practices,” said Principal Chris Goring. “So not only are our teachers having to teach a robust regular curriculum, just like any other school, [we also] have a cultural continuum, which is a thematic-based cultural guide that the teachers infuse into their regular classroom.” Students are not required to live in a particular catchment area to attend, and many come from First Nations communities. “If you collaborate and work with your stakeholders and listen to the voices of the children and the parents,” explained Goring, “a school like Niji Mahkwa can happen and thrive anywhere.” CBC

Douglas plants Aboriginal garden to promote cultural awareness, learning

A garden with plants sacred to Aboriginal people, such as tobacco, sweetgrass and sage, has been created outside of Douglas College’s Aboriginal Gathering Place. The garden was brought to life through a grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education and architectural firm Architek, and aims to promote cultural awareness and learning. The garden will be used for harvesting workshops and leanring opportunities, the tobacco will be gifted to Elders, and other plants will be used for smudging. “We wanted the garden to go hand in hand with the Aboriginal Gathering Place, and we wanted to create a garden that would provide medicinal value as well as enhance the spiritual essence of the space,” says Dave Seaweed, Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator. “Knowledge grows through ceremonies and events – and attendees will share their knowledge with others.” Douglas

Dorintosh Central School sees success in first year of land-based education

Dorintosh Central School is piloting land-based education in the Northwest School Division in Saskatchewan, reports Meadow Lake Now. The school implemented the land-based educational model last fall, which Principal Michael Radford said is largely student-run and student-led. “The reality is, we need to see the land from a different perspective and the facts of the Treaties and embark on reconciliation,” said Radford. Students have studied science through observations of ecosystems and animals, learned mathematics through building projects, and prepared presentations on multicultural food dishes for language arts. Radford said that students have worked with Indigenous Elders and teachers in local trades, and will soon embark on teepee teaching, smudging, and tobacco protocol. “It’s kind of nice because we get to show the little kids how to do stuff,” said Grade 7 student Birch Campbell. “We get to help teach, which is kind of enjoyable.” Meadow Lake Now

Akwesasne students take part in Queen's STEM program 

Earlier this month, students from all three of the Ahkwesáhsne Mohawk Board of Education participated in Queen's University's Aboriginal Access to Engineering program. The program aims to increase the number of Indigenous people entering the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by sending teacher Michelle Kennedy to schools with equipment once a month to teach the topics in a fun and engaging way. "We are teaching them how to code using block coding on a (tablet computer) app,” explained Kennedy. “The kids just love it, they’re very responsive, they always look forward to the next visit, and I always hear very positive responses from students. Their teachers have said that they aren't always as engaged in math or science.” Kennedy added that the program can help counteract long-standing problems such as gender gaps in STEM and graduation rates by introducing role models to students and making STEM subjects more engaging. Standard Freeholder 

MRU honoured by Siksika elder with song, Blackfoot name, headdress for president

Siksika elder Clarence Wolfleg Senior (Elder Miiksika’am) recently recognized Mount Royal University by offering it an Honour Song and a Blackfoot name, as well as a headdress for MRU President David Docherty. MRU reports that the song, composed by Elder Miiksika’am for the university, will be used during future events and ceremonies on campus. In gifting the president with a name and headdress, Elder Miiksika’am explained that a headdress honours and acknowledges a leader’s accomplishments, protects the wearer during challenges and commits him to continuing to be a leader in the community. A focus of the ceremony was the release of a report on the University’s progress to date. The plan, targeting 2016 to 2021, commits the University to a course of action to indigenize the campus, to respect and embrace Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing, to build and strengthen partnerships, to support student success and to honour Indigenous experiences and identities. MRU

St Michael Catholic HS marks Indigenous Education Day with grandmothers

At St Michael Catholic High School, four First Nations grandmothers visited on Indigenous Education Day to share their cultural teachings. The day was filled with education and activities, and students were treated to traditional and ceremonial teachings, drumming, and singing. Intermediate students and staff also had the opportunity to learn about First Nation culture, medicines, traditions, as well as participating in a strawberry ceremony; while high school students listened to two members of the Ottawa River Singers perform. “Their soft mannered yet informative approach to teaching the children had them engaged both within the cafeteria and the classrooms,” said staff member Heather Kingsbury. “Many well thought out and respectful questions were asked in the break out groups and you could tell how the grandmothers loved speaking about their culture and sharing it with the children.” Inside Ottawa Valley