Indigenous Top Ten

October 3, 2018

Three national FNMI groups partner with federal government to improve early learning and child care

The Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, and the Government of Canada have partnered to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families in 2018-19. The Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework establishes a vision for happy and safe Indigenous children and families, strong cultural identity, and an Indigenous-led system with accessible, flexible, and inclusive early learning and child care. “Access to high-quality, appropriate and culturally-rooted early learning and child care is a fundamental component in achieving social equity and improving socio-economic outcomes for Inuit in Canada,” said ITK President Natan Obed. “Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami has been proud to provide Inuit-specific guidance to the Framework and looks forward to continued collaboration on ensuring the vision it sets out is realized for Inuit children and families across Canada.” The federal government has announced a commitment of $1.7B over 10 years to this initiative, an amount that is part of the $7.5B over 11 years that it committed in Budget 2016. ITK

New survey highlights areas of greatest need for supporting Indigenous postsecondary students

A new survey by Indspire has found that Indigenous students continue to face barriers when it comes to accessing postsecondary education. Indspire President Roberta Jameson stated that the survey revealed the areas where institutions and government need to improve, particularly in the areas of financial supports, adequate supports for Indigenous student services staff, increased Indigenous content in programs, and more role models and mentors. “We are making gains, that is clear,” said Jameson. “But Indigenous students need us to join hands with others, show them we can together meet their needs and ensure reconciliation is a vital part of their post-secondary spaces.” The surveyed students also shared the positive experiences that they had had with having access to Indigenous student services and spaces on campus. Indspire | Summary of Findings (PDF)

QC spends $1.6M to rectify outdated Indigenous content in textbooks

The Government of Quebec has spent $1.6M to replace the words “Amerindian” and “Native Americans” and modify other content in history textbooks that were introduced two years ago. The cost of the effort has reportedly been a source of controversy, but First Nations leaders say that the changes were an essential gesture of respect. “In this case, the review allows for much more than a debate on semantics; it also allows for a much-needed rectification of proper history instruction,” read a statement from the First Nations Education Council. “We believe that mutual understanding and establishing the facts are paramount in a context of reconciliation.” Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, added that terminology issues should not be taken lightly, pointing to the offence taken by many members of the francophone majority from the outdated term “French-Canadian” in official materials. CTV News

Ryerson partners with NAN to address housing crisis, announces Yellowhead first research fellows

Ryerson University’s Together Design Lab and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation have launched a partnership to address the desperate housing crisis plaguing the Nation's 49 communities. The partners will consult with NAN residents to hear about their needs and develop a comprehensive housing strategy using their ideas on how these needs can be addressed. “There is no one solution to the housing crisis,” said TDL director Shelagh McCartney, who led a recent pilot study into the ongoing housing crisis in Indigenous communities. “If you truly want to fix this housing crisis, you need to be developing metrics and policies that address it on the ground.” Ryerson’s Yellowhead Institute also recently announced its 15 inaugural research fellows, who will be working with the Institute to support First Nation assertions of self-determination, engaging in public education, research, and analysis on Indigenous Policy. The Star | Ryerson

UManitoba prof calls for replacement of current president with Indigenous woman

CBC reports that Barry Lavallee, a professor at the University of Manitoba, has called on the university to replace current president David Barnard with an Indigenous woman. At a lecture delivered on campus last week, Lavallee told the audience that “[w]e have many Indigenous leaders in our community who are excellent leaders, who can take this university to the levels it's never reached in a 100 years.” In comments to CBC, Lavallee added that Indigenous leaders have the merit and the qualifications to lead, but they are not recognized because of systemic racism. UManitoba spokesperson John Danakas said that the “president strongly supports efforts to increase the number of female and Indigenous senior administrators.” CBC | Winnipeg Free Press

Test question asking about “positive effect” of residential schools sparks furor 

An online social studies question from the Alberta Distance Learning Centre that asked students about the “positive effect” of residential schools in Canada has drawn backlash. Alberta Education Minister David Eggen has apologized for the question and told Alberta Education to review material used by the Alberta Distance Learning Centre to ensure that the use of such “hateful material” is immediately discontinued. “I was appalled to see such hurtful and offensive material given to an Alberta student,” Eggen said in an emailed statement. “There is no excuse for it—and there is no place for it in our schools.” University of Alberta ATEP Associate Director Angela Wolfe called the question “disturbing” and “highly disrespectful.” CBC | APTN

Canadian PSE institutions raise flags, erect symbols of local FNMI groups on campus

Several Canadian post-secondary schools have celebrated the beginning of the school year by raising flags, house posts, and other imagery on campus in honour of local First Nations, Métis, and Inuit groups. At the University of Lethbridge, the Blackfoot Confederacy Flag has been permanently raised on campus. ULethbridge’s School of Liberal Education has also celebrated its Blackfoot heritage by making the image of the turtle  an official symbol. The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus has permanently raised the Okanagan Nation Alliance flag in a formal recognition of the Syilx Okanagan nation, on whose lands the university resides. Langara College has unveiled a locally carved Musqueam house post carved by Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow, which welcomes visitors to the traditional unceded territory of the Musqueam people. McGill University celebrated its eighth annual Indigenous Awareness Week by replacing historical paintings with artwork from local Indigenous artists, flying the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, and hosting a number of events. Lethbridge Herald | Nation Talk (ULethbridge) | UBCOLangara | McGill Tribune

Lake Manitoba gets $1M for portable classrooms to meet space shortage

Lake Manitoba First Nation will receive $1M to cover the costs of portable classrooms after numerous students returned to school without proper classrooms. The chief and council stated that there was a delay in ordering portables because funding promised from Indigenous Services Canada did not come through. “We took on this big initiative to bring our kids home and we're very excited. It's looking good right now,” said Chief Cornell McLean, before noting that the funding will only cover the costs of the building and installation. “There's still a shortfall. We need … almost $1.3 million to cover off the teacherages, and that's just the infrastructure alone. It doesn't include the furnishings.” The community indicated in a formal funding proposal in June that students would be returning to the community for the 2018-2019 school year instead of attending school outside of the community in Lundar, Manitoba. McLean stands by the decision and says that enrolment has increased as a result. CBC

NVIT, Penticton Indian Band partner on bringing programs to community

The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and Penticton Indian Band are partnering to bring a heavy equipment operators foundations training program and an environmental natural resources program to the community. 15 students will take part in the HEO program and gain the skills and certificates needed to operate machinery such as excavators, rock trucks, and graders. Sixteen students will take part in the natural resources program and learn the fundamentals needed to work in forestry, fisheries, wildlife, and other disciplines. “This agreement is not only important for our community, but for developers with projects in sensitive ecosystems and historical areas of interest,” said Chad Eneas, Chief of the Penticton Indian Band. “We want better employment prospects for our First Nations youth and the opportunity to integrate our Syilx worldview into curriculum.” Penticton Western News

UCN announces Centre for Indigenous Community Development

University College of the North has announced the creation of the Centre for Indigenous Community Development, which will help support the economical, social, and cultural development of Indigenous and northern communities. The centre aims to create a conversation about social, economic, and leadership development and foster collaborative activity and programming on key topics and issues. “I am excited to be leading this great new initiative at UCN,” said former MKO Grand Chief Sheila North, who will lead the new centre. “The Centre for Indigenous Community Development will support the development and aspirations of people in northern and Indigenous communities.” Nation Talk