Indigenous Top Ten

August 22, 2018

BC First Nations Languages status report finds positive progress, continued challenges

The First Peoples’ Cultural Council’s newly released Report on the Status of BC First Nations Languages 2018 has found continued challenges in revitalization efforts and threats to language vitality, but also identifies positive progress in several areas. The report highlights the efforts by institutions such as the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University in supporting language learners, the Government of British Columbia's historic investment into language revitalization earlier this year, and the progress made on documenting languages. The report further calls on government and educational institutions to make language instruction a keystone of educational policy; build programs that work on fluency; enact language legislation; and provide adequate, stable, and ongoing funding for revitalization activities at all levels. “We are encouraged that the 2018 report points to a growth in the number of young fluent speakers and learners in the province,” writes the FPCC, “but also see areas where more is needed for First Nations communities in their language revitalization efforts.” Vernon Morning Star | FPCC

QC network brings together Indigenous students, health professionals

The newly launched Quebec Indigenous Mentorship Network aims to provide culturally-grounded support for Indigenous students studying health sciences. The network is one of eight based in a First Nations community and is funded by the Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. “For me, it is just like a natural part of research training, especially when we're talking about health research and Indigenous communities,” said mentor Treena Delormier, adding that she wanted to pay forward the benefits she gleaned from her own mentors in research. “Our history of health is so contextualized in this specific context of colonisation. It's a complex situation and I think that any research mentoring is going to be helpful, but this particular network is focused on Indigenous communities building capacity.” CBC

Some NU communities likely to delay start of school year due to teacher shortage

A teacher shortage in Nunavut is causing concerns that the start of the school year in some communities might need to be delayed, reports CBC. “There's high [teacher] vacancy in communities all over Nunavut and basically all over Canada,” said Tony Nutarakittuq, chair of Igloolik's education authority. “Igloolik obviously is one of them, with short staff for the beginning of the year.” Schools in Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Clyde River, and Kimmirut are also facing teacher shortages. Heather Moffett, director of corporate services at NU's Department of Education, tells CBC that the number of vacancies is worse than previous years, adding that while the schools are doing everything they can to work through the shortage, “there are going to be a few communities where it's not going to be possible for school to open for all grades at the beginning of the year." CBC

RRU, Ulkatcho Nation partner on climate change research

Royal Roads University has partnered with the Ulkatcho First Nation and Keefer Ecological Services to study how climate change impacts ethnobotanical species used for food. An RRU release states that the project will incorporate Indigenous knowledge with climate science. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Ulkatcho First Nation and Keefer Ecological Services to deliver hands-on training in community on a topic of key importance for communities–understanding the impacts of climate change,” said Zoe MacLeod, RRU's Director of Professional and Continuing Studies. Trainees will establish research plots, identify plant species, and interview traditional knowledge keepers. The three-year project began earlier this month, and is funded through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program. RRU

Why it is best to educate Indigenous students in Indigenous languages

While Canadian census data indicates that some Indigenous children educated in an Indigenous language are struggling, research continues to demonstrate the benefits of bilingual education, writes Chad Hipolito. The author offers five key points for understanding the benefits and importance of bilingual education for Indigenous students. First, he writes about how education in their own language is a right that Indigenous groups have fought for throughout Canada’s history. Also, research continues to show that learning two languages leads to better brain functioning. Hipolito concludes that learning an Indigenous language is also about much more than just language learning; it bolsters a student’s sense of identity and brings them closer to their parents and community, setting them up for success throughout life. Evidence Network (CP)

Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary introducing Indigenous language classes

The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary will soon offer language classes in Cree, Blackfoot, and Michif for children, youth, and families. The Calgary Star explains that the centre was one of the beneficiaries of the $1M announced by the Federal Government earlier this year in support of Indigenous language revitalization programs. The centre received about $80K to develop an inaugural Indigenous language curriculum, which is co-hosted by the Calgary Public Library. “We represent 41,000 urban Indigenous peoples in Calgary: 22,000 are Métis, 17,000 are First Nations, and 440 are Inuit,” said Executive Director Shane Gauthier. “That’s how we picked the three languages. We’re in Blackfoot territory, we have Cree and then we have Michif to represent the Métis community.” Calgary Star

Okanagan to host Wood Carving class led by master carver

Okanagan College will be hosting the Indigenous Wood Carving class again on its campus this Fall. Indigenous Wood Carving is led by master carver and Cree Métis artist Darren McKenzie, and includes basic carving techniques for beginners, as well as more challenging projects. McKenzie explained that the course does not require participants to have any previous artistic knowledge or Indigenous carving experience. This year’s version of the course will feature more power tools, shortcuts, and secret tricks of the art form. “Normally I prep everything because it saves time. People expect to show up and start carving,” explained McKenzie. “But with this course, I’m going to show them more about layout, take them through the journey the long way, from start to finish.” Nation Talk

Indigenous youth take opportunity to explore natural resource management

Indigenous youth recently explored careers in natural resource sector through the First Nation Natural Resource Youth Employment program and Outland Youth Employment program, reports the Chronicle Journal. The six-week program offers education training and work opportunities in the field, as well as the opportunity for youth to earn a paycheque and two high school credits for participating. “We are doing GPS, geocaching, an aviation tour, they were at Bora Laskin Law School learning about restorative justice, we are going to be doing some cooking classes at Roots to Harvest,” explained Outland Camps Program Coordinator Sarah Ambroziak. “We are including a lot of community organizations to get the youth from remote communities feeling comfortable and accepted in the city.” Ambroziak added that 87% of the students who go on to pursue postsecondary education end up working in natural resource management in the north. TB News Watch | Chronicle Journal

Community artists to wrap learning centre with Star-Blanket mural

The Helen Betty Osborne building in Winnipeg will soon be wrapped in a Star-Blanket inspired mural, according to CTV News. The building is currently home to the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, the University of Winnipeg’s ACCESS education program, and community-learning programs.The Star-Blanket represents gifts of the highest honour in First Nations culture, and the Star Blanket Project currently has multiple sites around the city. “The Helen Betty Osborne building is a place where the university and our neighbors come together to share, learn, and build brighter futures for young people in the community through impactful programs that honour Indigenous culture,” said UWinnipeg President Annette Trimbee. “Just as a Star Blanket honours those who are wrapped inside, this mural will honour and empower the many community members and learners who pass through these doors.” CTV News

Arctic College renews ABE funding for three more years

Nunavut Arctic College has received a renewed investment of $6M over three years to continue to improve literacy and numeracy skills among working age adults. From 2011 to 2017, the college reportedly provided 1,560 students with adult basic education, 99% of whom were Inuit. Many of those students went on to pursue further education, job training programs, or employment in a number of industries. “A strong education is more critical than ever in industries such as mining or construction,” said Amareet Sohi, NU Minister of Natural Resources. “The ongoing success of this program in helping with literacy, which has led to new educational and employment opportunities, is one to be celebrated. I’m pleased the Government of Canada can continue to support this program and assist Nunavummiut.” CBC