Indigenous Top Ten

December 12, 2018

Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Canada mark milestone with Education Agreement-in-Principle

Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Government of Canada have signed an Education Agreement-in-Principle that paves the way for continued negotiations for First Nations’ authority over K-12 education in their communities. The agreement marks a major milestone in the two parties’ journey towards reconciliation and renewed nation-to-nation relationships. “Asserting our jurisdiction over education is necessary so we can teach our children in a way that is consistent with our cultures, while also ensuring that they are prepared academically for whatever opportunities their futures hold,” stated Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “Our education system will be developed and implemented by our communities, and will provide our children with culturally appropriate and high quality learning opportunities that are on par with the rest of Canada.” Nishnawbe Aski Nation represents 49 First Nations with a total student population of approximately 10,000 students. Canada | Canada (Ontario)

VIU to help Indigenous grads build their business skills through BC-wide partnership

A new partnership between Vancouver Island University, the Government of British Columbia, the BC Assembly of First Nations, and the Business Council of BC will match Indigenous graduates of technical, trades, diploma, and degree programs with companies in BC for a two-year paid internship. VIU is providing logistical support to the partnership, but a release notes that the program is open to Indigenous graduates throughout the province. “The Indigenous Intern Leadership Program is a beautiful step in building reconciliation in BC,” says VIU Chancellor Louise Mandell. “This partnership [...] provides an ethical space beyond traditional boundaries, transitioning Indigenous graduates into the workplace.” NationTalk (BC)

First Nations students push for new high school in Thunder Bay

A group of northern Ontario First Nations youth is pushing for a new high school and a residence to end billeting. Youth from remote First Nations in northern Ontario currently must attend high school in urban centres, and the students say that the current billeting systems create too many problems related to racism and crime. Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, which is run by the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, has seen declining enrolment as parents are increasingly hesitant to send their children to Thunder Bay. “I told them I was a big champion of their dreams to see that new, or improved school built as soon as possible,” said Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott. “We know how important this initiative is.” Philpott stated that she is waiting for the completion of a feasibility study on a new school project before determining the federal government’s next steps. While the federal government has not historically funded off-reserve schools, CBC notes that Indigenous Services’ recently provided of $10M to Southeast CollegiateCBC (ON)

UAlberta lifts cap for Indigenous med students

The University of Alberta’s medical school is lifting a three-decade-old quota system that capped the number of reserved seats for Indigenous students at the school at five, reports the Edmonton Journal. Tibetha Kemble, Director of the Indigenous Health Initiative Program in UAlberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry said that five seats offered a meaningful measure 30 years ago, but worsening health crises amongst Indigenous populations and calls to action following the TRC have rendered the quota inadequate. “It’s when Indigenous physicians, educators and other professionals go back to their communities and give back at that direct service level that their ability to become change makers in their communities and across their professions is profound,” said Kemble. “That’s really the long-term vision.”  The Journal adds that UAlberta will introduce four new full-tuition scholarships for incoming Indigenous medical students. Edmonton Journal (AB)

Keewatin-Patricia school board partners with Windigo First Nations Council to ‘improve lives of children’

The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board and the Windigo First Nations Council have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance First Nations control over First Nations education. The two parties will work together to help Indigenous students reach their personal and educational goals. The memorandum highlights key priority areas in student support services, independent education plans, curriculum, professional development, and improved communications. The agreement will see the school board offer training for teachers, resources, and technological expertise. “After three years of meetings and negotiations, the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board has proudly signed the official memorandum of understanding with Windigo First Nations Council,” said KPDSB Director of Education Sean Monteith. “Keewatin-Patricia will now proudly add Windigo to its successful Indigenous partnerships that will improve the lives of children.” CBC | NationTalk (ON)

Concordia introduces front-line childcare certification program 

Front-line childcare educators are now able to take part in Concordia University’s Mamouwechitutaau program. The training program’s name means “let’s work together” in Cree, and it was developed collaboratively by Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, Concordia University, and Boscoville. The program is offered in the Cree territory over three years and is accredited through the Concordia Continuing Education centre. “The workers are more at ease knowing they are equipped with tools,"” said Maria MacLeod, CBHSS’s director of youth healing services, who noted that 40 Cree youth are under youth protection at any given time. “Sometimes the youth can become violent at times. It requires some restraining. [Workers] have more tools now.” CBC (QC)

Algonquin officially opens spaces dedicated to Indigenous cultures, heritage

Algonquin College has completed a $44.9M construction project and formally opened and named several of the new spaces on campus, including those that are dedicated to a new understanding of Indigenous cultures and heritage. The college has opened Ishkodewan, an Indigenous gathering circle and outdoor classroom; Nawapon, the Indigenous Learning Commons on the first floor of the DARE district; the Lodge, a circular space within Nawapon for smaller gatherings; Pìdàban, which will be the Institute of Indigenization; and Kejeyàdizidjigwogamig, a smaller space that will serve as a showcase for Indigenous oration and storytelling. “When we gather [...] we will be warmed by the central fire that will burn brightly in the heart of our College,” said Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen, “a reminder of our spark of innovation, our passion for learning, and our commitment to a shared future.” NationTalk (ON) | Toronto Star | Algonquin

Financial empowerment can contribute to success for Indigenous youth

For Indigenous youth embarking on higher education and careers, financial empowerment marks the road to success, writes Bettina Schneider, Associate Vice-President Academic of First Nations University. Schneider explains how many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities have experienced persistent barriers that have contributed to gaps in financial literacy. Furthermore, many personal finance books provide excellent content, but do not include the taxation, housing, banking, and other specifics that impact Indigenous people. To this end, Schneider explains how “sharing the wisdom and power of culturally relevant financial literacy education in Indigenous communities is one way to promote the success of Indigenous youth.” National Post (Canada)

QC decides not to alter high school history curriculum

The Government of Quebec has decided to not change the high school history curriculum and order new textbooks, despite a recent review that found it had failed to properly reflect the province’s diversity. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge argued that “history will always be subject to debate” and stated that the current textbooks have already been revised after “many consultations with the Indigenous and anglophone community.” The previous QC government altered the textbooks at the cost of $1.6M, which was dismissed as costly and unnecessary by several commentators in the French language media. Wilfrid Laurier University Emeritus Professor Terry Copp suggested that if the textbooks are not replaced, the school board should draft a supplementary teaching document to fill the gaps and draw upon the historical ideas that developed out of the experience of different communities. CBC (QC)

More Canadians learning Indigenous languages, but everyday usage, youth necessary to thrive

Statistics Canada has shown that a growing number of people in Canada are learning an Indigenous language, especially languages such as Blackfoot, Cree languages, Ojibway, Salish languages, and Inuktitut. However, StatsCan also found that the share of the Indigenous population that is able to speak an Indigenous language has declined over the past two decades, a finding that is likely impacted by the growing likelihood of self-identification, while the total number of people who are able to speak an Indigenous language has risen by 8%. This trend holds implications for the future and vitality of Indigenous languages in Canada. “Regardless of the type of acquisition, for Aboriginal languages in Canada to not only continue to exist but also to thrive, past research suggests that it is necessary that these languages be transmitted to children and be used in everyday life,” explained the study. StatsCanNunatsiaq Online (Canada)