Indigenous Top Ten

February 20, 2019

“It is so warm and inviting”: KPU teams up with engineering foundation for FNMI initiative

Kwantlen Polytechnic University will host the Verna J Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program in 2019. The initiative supports educational opportunities and activities outside of the classroom for First Nations, Metís, and Indigenous students through research mentorship. “Expanding the program to KPU will help the foundation to meet the goal of increasing the number of First Nation, Metis and Inuit students graduating in science, medicine, and engineering by offering a unique enrichment experience for FNMI students in the Lower Mainland,” said Tony Williams, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The partnership will feature activities such as computer-aided design and drafting, insect collection and curation, laboratory research on insects that prey on greenhouse and agricultural crops, re-indigenizing Logan Creek floodplain with native species, and turf management. “We are very pleased and honoured to be partnering with the Verna J Kirkness Education Foundation,” said KPU Associate VP Academic Steve Cardwell. “This will be a wonderful opportunity for Indigenous youth.” Nation Talk (BC)

Arctic Inspiration Prizes fuel education initiatives across the North

Several education initiatives from kindergarten to adult education have been awarded Arctic Inspiration Prizes. Pirurvik: A Place to Grow, an early childhood education centre in Pond Inlet, Nunavut that offers education rooted in traditional child-rearing practices, has won the $1M Arctic Inspiration Prize. “The Pirurvik preschool was born from a dream,” said Centre Co-director Tessa Lochhead. “We had this dream for our children, and now we have realized that dream.” Pirurvik hopes to expand programming for toddlers and infants in seven Nunavut communities.  The Tr'ondek Hwech'in Teaching and Working Farm received a $1M prize for its program that offers farm training and locally-grown food. CBC reports that the prize will go towards the construction of a cold-climate greenhouse on Tr’ondek Hwech’in traditional territory. A land-based ecology program by Nunami Sukijainiq in Nunavik won $466K, a program led by Sue McNeil in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and Gwich’in Settlement Area focused on Indigenous Northern Artisans won $500K, and a $100K youth prize was awarded to a Cambridge Bay program that teaches workshop skills by helping youth to convert scrap metal into art. CBC (National)

Dal partners with the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation for East Coast hub

The East Coast Hub of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has been launched at Dalhousie University. A Dal release states that the partnership with the NCTR will ensure that archives are accessible in the Atlantic region, and that the partners plan to introduce additional holdings to the Hub. Additionally, the Hub will facilitate oral history and community narratives, research and reports; support a broad scope of public education, research, cultural, and reconciliation activities; assist the NCTR in serving the public in a variety of Indigenous languages, English, and French; and fulfill regional or community needs and desires related to residential school research, education, and reconciliation. Dal (NS)

UAlberta faculties of Law, Native Studies collaborate to support Indigenous law, governance 

The Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta are launching a new initiative to support Indigenous law and governance through research that is led by the Indigenous community. According to a UAlberta release, the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge is funded by the Alberta Law Foundation through a two-year grant. It was created to honour Call to Action #50 from the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which asks Canada to establish Indigenous law institutes in collaboration with Indigenous communities. “While we have made great strides, we have further yet to go,” said UAlberta Faculty of Law Dean Paul Paton. “This support is the culmination of over two years of engagement with the Foundation in this area, and provides us both an opportunity and challenge: to demonstrate how research and community engagement can serve the public interest.” UAlberta (AB)

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation celebrates grand opening of Mne Koodi Headstart Centre

The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, located in the Treaty 6 Territory in Alberta, has recently completed renovations and improvements on the Mne Koodi Headstart Centre, which houses the Nation’s Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve program. “Our future leaders are starting their education journey with a strong foundation,” said Chief Tony Alexis. “The renovation and addition to the Mne Koodi Head Start Centre provides a safe, accessible place for the needs of all of our youngest members. The Head Start program is an important stepping stone for our children to build successful futures and strengthen their spirit.” A $1M investment from the Government of Canada was used for renovations to improve energy efficiency and accessibility in the building, as well as an annex that includes office spaces, a kitchen, and a quiet room for children with special needs. Nation Talk (AB)

URegina President points to urgency of preserving Indigenous languages

Earlier this month, University of Regina President Vianne Timmons issued a message to faculty, students, and staff at the university emphasizing the importance of preserving Indigenous languages. The message celebrated Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Month, which takes place every February, as an ideal time to explore how language and storytelling are essential to the passing on of cultural beliefs, history, customs and ways of life. Timmons added that “Indigenous languages such as Assiniboine, Oneida and Lillooet are critically and severely endangered, threatening a rich and vital part of their stories and identities.” Finally, she highlighted the efforts of Solomon Ratt, an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Languages, Arts and Culture at First Nations University of Canada, in drawing attention to the disappearance of Indigenous languages around the world and the importance of keeping them alive through storytelling. URegina (SK)

ON provides $1.2M to PLATO Testing to support training in software, IT

The Government of Ontario has provided PLATO Testing with $1.2M to deliver IT training that will train Indigenous people as experts in software testing. PLATO Testing is a company that seeks to bring meaningful employment opportunities to Indigenous people in the IT field. The investment is expected to create 57 full-time jobs and help fill talent shortages in the labour market. "With our support, PLATO Testing is developing the next generation of professional software testers in Sault Ste. Marie," said Ross Romano, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. "We are diversifying the local economy, creating good jobs and supporting growth in this important sector." ON (ON)

RRC, Indspire invest $1M into Indigenous bursary program

Red River College and Indspire have announced that they will double funding for Building Brighter Futures, a bursary program for Indigenous students. “The College is focused on Indigenous Achievement, which means we are focused on creating opportunities for Indigenous students. We are working hard to build partnerships with Industry, Indigenous organizations and other bodies that want to support our students,” said Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy. An Indspire release states that the bursary, now in its second year, will offer $1M in support for programs in health, technology, culinary skills, social enterprise, Indigenous languages, trades, college transition, and community development. IndspireWinnipeg Sun (MB)

Cambridge Bay pre-trades program engages students’ eyes to the value of learning

A three-year pre-trades program in Cambridge Bay is engaging high school students with practical, hands-on learning. Pre-trades students follow a specific education track that sees them learn about Newtonian physics, mathematics, electricity, and more by building a doghouse, an outhouse, and a cabin. Dean Evetalegak. a local student, said that he'd rather “learn practical skills” than follow a standard curriculum. “It's that drastic,” said Skinner of the impact the program has on students. “There's a person standing in front of you and their eyes are flitting all over the place and then you hand them a tool. All of a sudden, they're listening to you.” Skinner stated that the program has been so successful that many students don't end up going into apprenticeships, but are hired by the Government of Nunavut. CBC (NU)

USask launches Certificate in the Study of Indigenous Storytelling

The University of Saskatchewan will provide a space for Indigenous storytelling from multiple disciplinary and culturally-specific perspectives through a new Certificate in Indigenous Storytelling. A USask release explains that courses will focus on how methods of telling and recording Indigenous stories impact their dissemination and reception. “We hope that learning through the lens of Indigenous storytelling will help to provide an understanding of the past, the present and the future,” said Wendy Roy, Head of USask’s Department of English. USask adds that the departments of Indigenous studies, English, and Drama collaboratively developed the program, and that registration is open to all USask students. USask (SK)