Indigenous Top Ten

March 6, 2019

New Kwak’wala language immersion program launching at SD72 school on Vancouver Island

School District 72 has approved the launch of a pilot Kwak’wala language immersion program at Ripple Rock Elementary School in Campbell River, BC. Starting in September, kindergarten students will be immersed in the Kwak’wala language. “We thought about how our French immersion program actually began — by parents coming forward and saying could this happen — and so we just took that example and we went to the [school] board,” said Assistant Superintendent Nevenka Fair. “The community has been dreaming of this for years and years and it's about time that we're taking this on.” Fair stated that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous families attended the consultations and supported the idea of the program, and that there is a hope that a mixture of students will register for the class. CBC (BC)

OCDSB to introduce Grade 11 English course with all-Indigenous reading list to more schools

A mandatory Grade 11 English course with an all-Indigenous reading list is spreading across the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, reports CBC. Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and introduced by the OCDSB, the class reportedly seeks to “undo the damage caused by the country's residential school system.” “It provides different perspectives for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students,” said Jane Alexander, who oversees the secondary school curriculum for the School Board. “It's an opportunity for them to look at contemporary Canadian themes and literature that maybe they have not been able to do before.” CBC notes that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action include mandatory age-appropriate curriculum on Indigenous history and residential schools from kindergarten to Grade 12. It also calls for the creation of a senior-level position in provincial and territorial governments dedicated to Indigenous content in education. CBC (ON)

Okanagan launches professional cook training with Indigenous-knowledge infusion

Okanagan College has announced the launch of a professional cook training program that is infused with Indigenous knowledge. The 50-week program will be taught in the college’s teaching kitchens and labs in Kelowna. “We’re taking the industry-proven professional cook training that we are known for at OC and building on it in a way we feel will be very meaningful and valuable for students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” said Okanagan Culinary Manager Chef Vincent Stufano. “Our chef instructors are excited and proud to be working with some chefs and knowledge keepers to infuse Indigenous culinary techniques and ingredients into the curriculum in this way.” The pilot program is the result of a partnership between the college, the Industry Training Authority BC, and the Okanagan Training and Development Council. CBC | Okanagan (BC)

U of T’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives looks to bolster cultural competency with day-long workshops

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Toronto is looking to fill in gaps in people’s knowledge of Indigenous communities by offering day-long cultural competency training workshops across the university. “It’s to make people realize that we all have different world views, different belief systems, different spiritual practices and different cultures,” says John Croutch, a cultural competency training officer at the university. “These differences don't make someone less than. In fact, diversity adds to the value of our society by bringing different ideas into the mix.” Croutch notes that one of the core aspects of the training is having people understanding the shifting history of settler-Indigenous relations in Canada. “And reconciliation, that's not our job,” adds Croutch. “That's the rest of society's job. To gain the understanding and knowledge of the past and come to grips with why Indigenous people are in the socio-economic conditions they are in.” U of T (ON)

TRU introduces Indigenous writing course for education program

Thompson Rivers University has launched a new writing course for its Master’s of Education program called Learning Through Indigenous Literature. The course is an intensive program that requires students to read award-winning Indigenous authors from across Canada and express their learnings through a creative writing approach. It is open to all students and is taught by Garry Gottfriedson, a member of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc and cultural adviser and lecturer with the Faculty of Education and Social Work at TRU. “Other universities teach from a Western pedagogical approach. I want people to tap into a deeper consciousness and use their creativity to be able to express their perceptions,” explained Gottfriedson. “It’s a different take on looking at literature and our place in reconciliation and our contribution to reconciliation. Being aware of the past, but looking forward. It’s going to challenge the students and offer them other insights.” TRU (BC)

Saugeen First Nation, BWDSB sign new Education Services Agreement

The Saugeen First Nation and Bluewater District School Board have signed a new Education Services Agreement to ensure the continuation of student learning opportunities. The agreement is an extension to one that was previously made between the Nation and the Bruce County Board of Education. “Education is a vital component to the success of our young people’s future,” stated Saugeen First Nation Chief Lester Anoquot. “Bluewater District School Board recognizes the diverse community it serves, and I am pleased we will have a signed agreement going forward into our children’s future.” Blackburn News reports that the agreement includes common services for all students, as well as additional programs and services or equipment to meet the needs of students from the First Nation. “In addition to our board’s commitment to equity and inclusion and strong focus on promoting Indigenous education,” added Alana Murray, BWDSB Director of Education, “we are constantly working towards our strategic goal of promoting confidence in our education system and encouraging partnerships.” Blackburn News | Bayshore Broadcasting (ON)

Yukon College launches an oral history of its reconciliation journey

Yukon College has launched Walking Our Path Together, an audio podcast that covers first-hand experiences of the relationship between the College and the 14 Yukon First Nations. The podcast will feature a wide range of Yukoners who share their personal experiences on topics related to Elders on campus, Indigenizing curriculum, land-based learning, and the legacies of residential school in Yukon. “Other institutions have produced detailed plans on how they will address reconciliation and decolonization, but the idea of a plan felt foreign,” said Davida Wood, director of First Nations Initiatives at the college. “It wouldn’t reflect where we are in our journey, or the work already done at Yukon College to Indigenize the curriculum, to ensure all students and employees possess a grounding in Yukon First Nations history and culture.” The college hopes that the podcast will inspire Canadians to engage in the work of Reconciliation. Nation Talk | Podcast (YK)

Indigenous teens recognized for job-specific skills learned in BC wilderness

Instead of a single diploma, 20 Indigenous teenagers recently received a handful of certificates that mapped out the skills they had learned living and learning in the wilderness near Prince George, British Columbia. The students were the first ever cohort of the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) West, an Ontario-based youth development agency that has now come to BC. The youth received chainsaw operations training, brush-saw training, and tree planting experience, among other skills that will prepare them for work in a range of locally relevant industries. “These 20 youth are now, whether they realized it or not, leaders in their peer groups all over the north,” the article states. “They are also, whether they realized it or not, ambassadors for the workforce of tomorrow.” Prince George Citizen (BC)

What do people really mean when they talk about “Indigenization”?

A study out of the University of Alberta has categorized “Indigenization” initiatives at Canadian universities according to a three-point spectrum. After surveying 25 Indigenous academics, Adam Gaudry and Danielle Lorenz suggest that “Indigenous inclusion”—which focuses on efforts to include more Indigenous staff, faculty, and students—occupies the most moderate point on the spectrum, with decolonial Indigenization—total Indigenous autonomy—situated on the other end. Reconciliation Indigenization, which sits in the centre, involves the legitimation of Indigenous knowledge systems in the academy. Folio explains that Gaudry and Lorenz developed the three-point spectrum to complicate the assumption that “Indigenization” can be defined as a static or pro forma concept. UAlberta (AB)

Camosun, SIPP partner to solve transportation puzzle for South Island First Nations

Camosun College is collaborating with the South Island Prosperity Project to develop better transportation opportunities for the Indigenous communities in the South Island, BC region. A Camosun release states that the initiative aims to improve access to post-secondary institutions in the region, First Nations-run education centres, and other such destinations. “Camosun’s relationship to South Island First Nations is immensely important to our success as an institution. We know that many of our Indigenous students struggle to find reliable and affordable transportation options to attend programs at Camosun and the other post-secondary schools in the region. Therefore, it is imperative that we work toward solutions that will meet those needs,” said Camosun VP of Partnerships Geoff Wilmshurst. Camosun (BC)