Indigenous Top Ten

October 31, 2018

QC ombudsman sounds alarm on Inuit education

Quebec ombudsman Marie Rinfret has released a report stating that the province is failing to provide Inuit children with access to quality education. “The ministry is not giving (the Inuit) school board the tools to succeed,” said Rinfret. “The ministry is adopting a restrictive vision of its role.” The Montreal Gazette reports that about 80% of students in Nunavik drop out before finishing high school, and cites issues related to class cancellations, overcrowded homes, and home repair needs. The report provides 14 recommendations, which include creating an action plan on housing by 2020, training additional Inuktitut-language teachers, and sensitizing non-Inuit teachers to the realities of working in the North. Montreal Gazette | Report (Fr)

Keyano launches environmental monitoring program combining Western, Indigenous knowledge

Keyano College has launched a new environmental monitoring program in Fort Chipewyan that brings together Western science and Indigenous knowledge. The program was launched in October, and its first group of students are studying in Fort Chipewyan: a Cree, Dene, and Métis community that has long raised concerns about pollution and low water levels. “I jumped at it,” said Kevin Marten, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation and one of the program’s first students. “The people who do the testing feel passionate about it and that's what I want. I want to be part of something.” Keyano Instructor Sithara Fernando acknowledged the tension between Western science and Indigenous traditional knowledge, but said that the tension made the students stronger. “We are braiding Western science and Indigenous knowledge together, and if you have ever braided your hair, you actually need to pull for the braid to be strong,” explained Fernando. “Without that tension the students don't get any value. If I was to braid with only western science [...] the braid will fall apart.” CBC

Little Pine, Poundmaker First Nations team up to train special constables

Little Pine First Nation and Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan are partnering with an instructor from North West College to train band members to become peacekeepers. The six-week course will see participants learn how to use pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs for defence before they begin patrolling their reserves. “For us this is a way of life, to look after each other, to look after our communities, to look after our neighbours,” Little Pine Chief Wayne Semaganis told recruits this week at the community's school. “I expect all of you to try your best.” Those who complete the province’s course requirements to become special constables will be able to work anywhere. “I want to give back and then take care of my community,” said Little Pine band member Laithan Checkosis, “not just for myself but for my family and my kids.” CBC

Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada launches new educational resources

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada has launched new educational resources that are unique in their content and scope. The resources include a four-volume print atlas, an online interactive atlas and accompanying app, Giant Floor Maps, and more. These resources were designed to meet the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, which cited the development of culturally appropriate curricula for Indigenous students. “This project will ensure that young Canadians have the opportunity to learn more about the culture and heritage of Indigenous Peoples, including the dark history of residential schools,” said Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism. “The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada was a Canada 150 project that we were proud to support, because it involved the participation of Indigenous Peoples and responded to the Call to Action to better educate our children on these issues.” Nation Talk

YorkU launches Indigenous Studies program

York University has launched a new Indigenous Studies program. A YorkU release states that the program, which is offered through the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, will include Indigenous ceremonies and experiential knowledge courses that will enable students to study an Indigenous language or work with traditional knowledge keepers to learn about land-based knowledge and cultural practices. “This is an exciting time for us.  We are very proud to have a program that promotes cultural knowledge for Indigenous students while enabling non-Natives to understand both the realities of colonial oppression in Canada, and the strength and values of First Nations communities,” said Bonita Lawrence, Indigenous Studies Program Coordinator. YorkU adds that the program is part of the reconciliation process and calls to action from the TRC. YorkU

Iqaluit student sits for anthem to make statement

A 12-year-old student in Iqaluit ended up in the principal’s office after sitting during the Canadian anthem to make a statement about teaching the history of residential schools. “I sat down for the anthem to make a statement. I got sent to the office for that, because I think my teacher thought I was trying to be a troublemaker,” said Miles Brewster, who said that he’ll continue to sit. “I think we need a change. More education, more Inuit as teachers and school staff.” CBC reports that the sitting started on Orange Shirt Day, when Miles was disappointed that his class didn’t talk about the reasons behind wearing orange shirts. “In his own small way, he's taking some control and doing that in a way that's not disturbing his classmates,” explained Janet Brewster, Miles’s mother. “This is the time in age and education where you can very easily lose a student. This is, Grade 7 and 8, is really key to keeping those children engaged so that they feel excited about school and they see what the benefit is of staying in school.” The school’s principal and the Government of Nunavut did not comment. CBC

Camosun, BCcampus build Indigenization guides for BC PSE

Camosun College and BCcampus have collaborated on the development of Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions. The project consists of six guides that cover foundational information and provide outlines for teachers and instructors, front-line staff and advisors, leaders and administrators, curriculum developers, and researchers. “Indigenization requires huge cultural change in an institution,” said Janice Simcoe, Camosun’s Director of Indigenous Education and Community Connections. “Post-secondary education systems were not developed and did not evolve with Indigenous students or community in mind. Indigenization challenges the assumptions that underlie what we learn in post-secondary, how we learn it, why we learn it, what we do with it. Despite it being hard work, Indigenization further humanizes our work. It results in good things for all students, and ultimately for all employees.” Camosun | BCcampus (Guides)

Dal unveils Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy Space

Dalhousie University has officially opened the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy Space in its Killam Library. A Dal release states that the Space will facilitate reconciliation by providing accurate information about Indigenous history. “This is a space that encourages education and awareness about Indigenous history, and will serve as a constant reminder to students, faculty and staff of the university’s commitment to reconciliation,” said Dal President Richard Florizone. Working alongside Chief Morley Googoo, Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Dal selected the Killam Library for the Legacy Space because of its high traffic. According to the university, the library receives over a million visitors per year. Dal

Canada, Lennox Island announce John J Sark Memorial School expansion, upgrades

John J Sark Memorial School, located in the Mi'kmaq community of Lennox Island on Prince Edward Island, has received a $5.3M investment from the Government of Canada for upgrades and an expansion. In addition to the introduction of a new warming shelter, the school will feature a kitchen, cafeteria, principal's office, spaces for Mi'kmaq language and cultural education, and more. “We will have an additional office space as well as extra classroom space that will house K-4 and Mi'kmaq classes. The school will be fully accessible. We are also extremely happy to see the kitchen, cafeteria, and the warming shelter portion in progress,” said Lennox Island First Nation Chief Matilda Ramjattan. “Thanks to ISC and Public Safety Canada for making this possible, the community of Lennox Island is grateful!” Morningstar

UBC MOA prepares for major $8.8M renovation project to protect building, collection

The University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology will be undertaking an $8.8M renewal project in late autumn. The museum's Great Hall will be earthquake-proofed to protect the building and its collection. The Georgia Straight explains that the upgrade marks the second seismic engineering upgrade of its kind in the city. “In Vancouver, we are all too familiar with the idea of ‘the Big One’—a catastrophic earthquake that threatens to unleash irreparable damage upon our city and beyond,” said MOA Curator of Education Jill Baird. “That’s why we are taking measures to seismically upgrade the Great Hall and educate our community with the Shake Up exhibition.” The upgrade will be celebrated with presentations from UBC, SFU, and MOA experts and curators; music, dance, and storytelling by cultural groups from earthquake-prone regions; and the launch of a new exhibition exploring earthquake science and technology, as well as Indigenous cultures. Georgia Straight | MOA