Indigenous Top Ten

April 3, 2019

Budget 2019 features funds for Indspire, a national centre at UVic, work placements

The federal government’s 2019 budget includes a collective $4.5B in new spending for Indigenous peoples, according to APTN. $9M has been pledged to Indspire over three years in order to help close the gap in post-secondary attainment for Indigenous students. “I am very pleased that this additional investment [...] will enable Indspire to support many more Indigenous students to achieve their potential through education,” said Indspire President Roberta Jamieson. “Their success will be enriched by First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and Canada.” The budget also includes $333.7M for Indigenous language revitalization, $327.5M for First Nations students over 5 years, $12.5M for Inuit students, and $362M for Métis programming. $9.1M was also allotted to the University of Victoria to create a national centre for Indigenous law and reconciliation. UVic adds that the design of the new centre will reflect modern and traditional values of the Coast Salish peoples, welcoming students, academics, and community members from all nations for engagement, debate, and public education. Indspire | UVic | Times Colonist (BC) | CBC | APTN (National)

Confederation opens smudging room on Thunder Bay campus

Confederation College recently celebrated the opening of a Smudging Room on its Thunder Bay campus. The room will be used for traditional ceremonies and will provide a quiet place for students and Elders to meet. “Our students come from all over the Northwest,” said Confederation President Kathleen Lynch. “We want to make sure that we acknowledge the history of what's happened with Indigenous people, and also, though, offer support and acknowledgement that we want to be partners with them on the journey forward.” Brenda Small, Vice-President of the Centre for Policy and Research in Indigenous Learning at the college, explained that the space “is a promise from Confederation College to recognize and respect Indigenous students, employees, elders, and partners in practicing this custom.” CBC | Confederation (ON) 

Yukon University to “excite the young people in the North” with new $26M science building

A new $26M science building will draw together Western science and Indigenous traditional knowledge and be a “cornerstone” of the soon-to-be Yukon University, says Yukon College President Karen Barnes. Barnes adds that the primary goal for the institution and new facility will be to “excite the young people in the North, to think about science and really look at the problems that exist in the North and study how to solve them.” YK Premier Sandy Silver congratulated the college and stated that the transition to Yukon University “further advances opportunities available in Yukon and the North.” CBC (YK)

MB cuts ACCESS funding for postsecondary institutions by $1M, slashes bursary program

The Government of Manitoba has cut ACCESS funding for post-secondary institutions by $1M for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and cut $1.6M that was earmarked for bursaries. A spokesperson for the provincial government stated that cutting the bursaries was part of an effort to streamline the student financial aid system, adding that the bursary program was previously under-subscribed and unavailable to students at Assiniboine Community College, Brandon University, and Université de Saint-Boniface. “A lot of the mission was to encourage Indigenous students and, in particular, students who have faced barriers to be able to get into a post-secondary program where they’ve been under-represented in the past,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Without resources to pay for tuition and other supports like tutoring, it’s going to mean more barriers." Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

KI receives over $42M in funding to build new school

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation, also known as Big Trout Lake, has received a pledge of funding from Indigenous Services Canada of over $42M to build a new school that will support students up to Grade 12. The current school only goes up to Grade 10, and is reportedly in need of extensive repairs. “To us, this is good news because it gives the opportunity for our kids to stay here and finish Grade 12 and then either move on to college or university,” said KI First Nation Chief Donny Morris. Morris stated that a location for the school has been decided on, and that once the new faculty has been built, the old one will be demolished. CBC (ON)

Free online e-platform brings together Indigenous digital producers and youth

A new online platform called the Coders North Initiative is bringing together Indigenous digital producers and providing a platform to highlight educational opportunities for Indigenous youth. “This platform is a place where Indigenous people can do anything with technology as it relates to their culture,” said Lisa Farano of Elephant Thoughts. “If kids can learn to code, those are skills they can use anywhere.” The platform features artists, web designers, coders, app designers, and gamers as featured experts, and includes learning modules where students from Grade 8 to 12 can learn about computational thinking, coding, and Indigenous entrepreneurship. Students can track their progress by earning beads each time they complete a coding activity. Access to the portal and resources is free, according to Timmins Today. Timmins Today (ON)

MUN project focuses on music and song from Indigenous perspective

A new program at Memorial University of Newfoundland's School of Music is investigating music and song with an Indigenous perspective. Indigenous Voices: Steps Toward Decolonizing the Music School Curriculum aims to help learners view music and song through an Indigenous perspective. Michael R Denny, one of four visiting Indigenous resident-thinkers who will participate in the program, has led drop-in sessions and classes on instrument building, Indigenous spirituality, and more. “I have a couple of students now who have participated in more than one class,” said Denny. “They'll come in and sit in the back and just listen.” MUN states that it hopes the project will help the school on its path of reconciliation and eventually create a new music course at MUN. Denny noted that being able to pass along knowledge and culture to the community helps to mend the experiences he and his family have endured. CBC (NL)

Dechinta centre looks to use $13M for cutting-edge land-based learning

The Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in the Northwest Territories is planning to use $13M in new federal money to diversify its programming across the North, reports CBC. The money was pledged to the institution in the most recent federal budget, and the institution says that reliable funding will allow it to offer “cutting edge Indigenous land-based education.” “To date it's been fairly precarious, our funding situation,” said University of British Columbia Professor Glen Coulthard, who sits on the board of directors and faculty for Dechinta. “Our model is based on self-determination for students so that requires us to move into other areas and learn from the knowledge holders, elders and students in terms of their needs and aspirations for education across the North.” CBC (NWT)

Teacher brings Ojibwe into the kindergarten classroom 

Kindergarten students at Antler River Elementary School on Chippewas of the Thames First Nation are learning to speak Ojibwe through a new language immersion program at the school. The program is based partially on the Anishinaabemowin Revival Program​ at Lakeview School on M'Chigeeng First Nation, and teacher Betsy Kechego hopes to be able to expand the program to first-graders next year, adding additional immersion grades every year. “I see it as something big, and it's going to thrive because we have so many people that believe in the language piece as a main core of our identity,” said education director Crystal Kechego. CBC (ON)

Matawa students try cross-country skiing thanks to Spirit North partnership

Students at the Matawa Education and Care Centre in Thunder Bay were recently able to try cross-country skiing at the Kamview Nordic Cenre, thanks to a new partnership. Spirit North, the partner organization, is a charitable group that helps First Nations start cross-country ski programs for youth. The organization provided 30 full sets of ski gear to the centre and arranged for the students to be joined by experienced instructors. “It's really neat because we have students from the nine Matawa different communities at our school,” explained Outdoor Education Teacher Joey Miller, “and the hope is that some of them will be able to bring skiing back to their communities in the future.” Student Mya Dixon of the Eabametoong First Nation added that she appreciates getting the opportunity to get out of the classroom and experience something different. CBC (ON)