Indigenous Top Ten

April 17, 2019

McGill to change Redmen team name

McGill University has announced it will change the name of its men’s varsity sports teams, the Redmen, due to widespread acknowledgment of the term’s offensiveness toward Indigenous peoples. McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier announced the decision by email to students last Friday morning, saying it was based on new principles of commemoration and renaming that the university established in December 2018. In the email, Fortier also cited major English dictionaries as sources confirming the term’s offensive connotations. “We cannot ignore this contemporary understanding. Intention, however benign, does not negate prejudicial effect,” said Fortier. “Inclusion and respect are at the core of our university's principles and values; pejoratives run contrary to who we are as a community.” CBC (QC)

URegina establishes Indigenous Pathway program, develops streaming studio for distance students 

The University of Regina is launching an Indigenous Pathway program and creating a new Kenneth Levene Streaming Studio. The Indigenous Pathway initiative will include scholarships, as well as networking and community building opportunities for Indigenous students who are currently pursuing post-secondary education and/or plan to pursue graduate-level education. The program seeks to recognize how all of Canada benefits from the economic impact of robust and successful Indigenous businesses. The streaming studio will feature state-of-the-art, interactive distance technology that will support distance students around the world and facilitate access to the Levene Graduate School. The initiatives are being funded by a matched $100K donation from Kenneth Levene, who stated: “I am pleased to be able to continue that tradition by providing Indigenous and distance students greater opportunities to participate in Levene Graduate School programs.” URegina | Nation Talk (SK)

Yellowknife school to change name to reflect correct traditional spelling

Weledeh Catholic School in Yellowknife will be changing its name in order to reflect the local language and traditional spelling. The school, originally named St Patrick Elementary School, was renamed in the 1990s in order to better reflect the Indigenous culture of the area, but the consultant involved in the name change chose the wrong spelling. The people in and around the communities of Detah, Ndilo, and Yellowknife have traditionally spoken the dialect of Wıìlıìdeh Yatii, and the misspelling of the name was noticed by an Indigenous-language instructor at the school. “I guess I was kind of shocked that this had happened in the first place but, knowing what I know about our history and how things like this can happen, it wasn't completely surprising,” said Principal Jenny Reid. Reid noted that the school will be holding a community feast to explain the name change and process. While there is no firm timeline for when the corrected name will come into effect, the change is expected to occur in time for the next school year. “I want to respect the people of this area, and I think that acknowledging their culture is great and wonderful, but we need to make sure that we do it appropriately,” Reid said. “I don't want to rush it. I want to make sure that we have it done right this time.” CBC (NWT)

New Richmond principal, teachers bring Indigenous knowledge and history to classroom

At the New Richmond High School in Quebec, Principal Michael Isaac has brought Indigenous history and culture into the classroom after finding that “Quebec’s Education Ministry’s high school curriculum simply wasn’t up to the task.” CBC reports that approximately 60% of the school’s population is of Mi’kmaw heritage, as is Isaac himself, who argued that ignoring an entire segment of the population is both damaging for those of Indigenous heritage and a disservice to Quebec. “Physics, chemistry, biology — you name a subject being taught in school, we have evidence that shows that our ancestors were well-versed in those subject areas,” said Isaac. The school has held a ceremony to mark the arrival of spring, participated in Turtle Island Reads, held a Sisters in Spirit vigil to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and several other initiatives. Student Jacob Lagouffe explained that the school’s approach to Indigenous knowledge has allowed him to learn new things about his heritage, and that he hopes there will be more opportunities in school to discuss important issues. “It's really good to bring it up because we need to spread awareness about this subject,” said Lagouffe, “and have more people know about it, to [bring] change in our society.” CBC (QC)

UBC Reconciliation Pole vandalized days before anniversary

The University of British Columbia’s Reconciliation Pole was vandalized last Friday in what has been condemned as “an affront to everyone on and off campus who embrace the pole’s symbolic importance.” Stakes that had been located in the ground nearby were forcibly inserted into the pole. UBC reports that the pole has shown no visible physical damage, but noted that the act of vandalism “profoundly disrespects everything the pole represents.” Haida Hereditary Chief and Master Carver 7idansuu stated that he would like to see the incident used as an opportunity to bring people together in understanding the pole’s meaning and what it represents. "It has been two years since we raised the '“Reconciliation Pole' at UBC with many Peoples helping. A Pole created out of RESPECT, empathy for our past, an understanding, a work of hope of working together in meaningful ways,” wrote 7idansuu. “We cannot lose our respect. Carry your ancestors in your heart… Endeavour to persevere.” The carver also expressed support for a cleansing ceremony that took place with Musqueam representatives. Summerland Review Ubyssey | UBC (BC)

For-credit InSTEM program that blends land-based learning, traditional knowledge expands north

Actua’s InSTEM program will be expanded to include communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and northern Alberta. The InSTEM program is a high school for-credit program that blends land-based learning, traditional knowledge, science, and technology. Doug Dokis, director of Actua's InSTEM program and Anishinaabe from Dokis First Nation near North Bay, explained that the program has a greater impact on the student’s educational outcomes because of its for-credit nature. “It's letting these youth in these regions know the local knowledge they inherently have is equally as valuable as a STEM knowledge that they're receiving within the school systems,” said Dokis. The program was piloted in 2017 in Ottawa, and expanded to Six Nations, Dokis First Nation, and Akwesasne last summer. The program includes an Indigenous science course that students take part in during the academic year and a land-based program in the summer that takes place in the students’ communities. The program received $2.3M from the Government of Canada to support the expansion. CBC (National)

Action plan at Concordia aims to open space for Indigenous peoples

Concordia University’s Indigenous Leadership Group has released a 39-point action plan. CBC reports that the plan was created, in part, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. “We set out a number of achievable concrete actions under key areas that have the potential to transform governance, students, faculty and staff, our cultural climate, community engagement, curriculum, and pedagogy and research,” said Heather Igloliorte, Special Advisor to the Provost on Advancing Indigenous Knowledges. Some of the recommendations include offering decolonizing and anti-racist Indigenous awareness programs for faculty members, administration, and students; the creation of an Indigenous Cultural Space on campus; and initiatives to rename or name new spaces and buildings to highlight Indigenous presence and history. CBC | Concordia (QC)

“It’s for everybody”: New teepee at UNB to honour Indigenous language teachers

The University of New Brunswick will erect a new teepee that honours Indigenous language teachers. CBC reports that attendees of an on-campus language revival event were invited to write the names of Indigenous language teachers on a large sheet of paper. Participants also included pictures or quotes in their language. Those names, words, and images will be transferred onto the new teepee, CBC states. The teepee will be used as for sunrise ceremonies and sweat lodges. It will also act as learning lodge for students and faculty. “I want it to be everybody's, not just the Indigenous students or the Indigenous people,” said Imedla Perley, UNB’s Elder-in-Residence. CBC (NB)

Iqaluit parents vote to keep O Canada in schools

Parents in Iqaluit have voted to keep O Canada in schools. The Iqaluit District Education Authority surveyed 279 parents, 210 of whom voted to keep the national anthem in school. Some of the parents stated that while they believe the anthem should be sung, students should also be taught the colonial history behind the song, while others suggested having the anthem sung in English, French, and Inuktitut. “We had a couple emails from parents that concerned us as board members. We wanted to find out as a board, is this a really, really big issue,” said IDEA Chair Doug Workman. The district does not plan to change its policies and added that the principals of the schools will be able to decide what to do with the results. CBC (NU) 

UNBC, Carrier Sekani Family Services partner on Elder wellness research

The University of Northern British Columbia and Carrier Sekani Family Services have partnered on a $1.5M Elder wellness project. The five-year research project is focused on strengthening mental wellness and suicide prevention for Elders living in BC’s Northern Interior. It is funded by the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health. “The motivation for our ongoing work has been to provide support and assistance to communities that are often underserved,” said UNBC Donald B Rix BC Leadership Chair for Aboriginal Environmental Health Henry Harder. “There is a huge gap of psychological services in the North.” Indigenous research methodology will be used as the framework for all phases of the project, which Harder explains means that the project “starts and ends with community.” UNBC | Prince George Citizen (BC)