Indigenous Top Ten

May 15, 2019

UAlberta student’s two-year mapping project reveals hidden Indigenous history of campus

After two years of work, University of Alberta Native Studies student Robin Howse has created a 27-point walking map of sites around the university’s North Campus that informs passersby with new layers of historical perspective. Called pîtos-mâmitoneyihtamowin UAlberta—or the Cree term for “reimagine”—the project categorizes locations and sites according to the perspectives those sites represent, such as Indigenous and colonial interpretations of history. There are also links to news stories and videos attached to each entry to provide background information. "At a lot of events now, you hear people doing treaty acknowledgements. They will acknowledge that we’re on Treaty 6 territory, but a lot of people don’t even what that means," said Howse. "Knowing families have been living here long before Edmonton was ever a city, or even thought of being a city, really changes the way you think about this place and how you interact in it." The Star (AB)

NWT school improves attendance rate by 25% this year

After working hard to build better connections with community partners to help students, the Angik School in Paulatuk, Northwest Territories has seen its attendance rate rise by 25% this year. The school has taken on initiatives such as holding monthly pizza parties or giving Easter and Christmas baskets to students with high attendance. "The school is becoming more a part of the community rather than its own institution," said Mayor Raymond Ruben Sr, who noted that the school used to have a disconnect from the hamlet. Ruben explained that many students come from families that "still breathe with the land," and that many are still going on the land during certain months. "It's good to know that we can still be up there in terms of kids' attendance at the school,” said Ruben. "We never try to cut them off or degrade them because they want to learn in other areas." CBC (NWT)

New collaboration mixes mathematics education, Métis culture

A new project in Ontario is pairing Métis design with mathematics curriculum for grade-school students. The project is a collaborative effort between project founder Ruth Beatty, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council President Jennifer Parkinson and Treasurer Leslie Anne Muma, and other local leaders. The program applies a cultural dimension to math lessons, which in turn helps to make complex concepts such as spatial reasoning, patterning, and algebra more accessible.  "The mathematics the students learn is done in a context of creating something important to them," explained Beatty, "so they care about figuring out how long their bracelet has to be, for example, or how to determine the unit of repeat and then reflect their design because it’s meaningful." The program was introduced as a pilot project in May 2018 in the Upper Grand District School Board, and a five-day version of the program was held in January 2019 with a grade six class. Nation Talk (ON)

Rush for Indigenous hires at universities opens door to failure, impostors: academics  

Some academics have expressed concern to CBC that the rush for new Indigenous hires at universities across Canada might have significant consequences for both applicants and departments. Métis scholar Jenny Ferguson said that hiring committees need to ensure that postings go to Indigenous scholars who serve their communities and participate in local organizing. Linc Kesler, an associate professor of English and Indigenous studies at UBC in Vancouver, added that he has seen committees hire Indigenous professors who are underqualified and unprepared for the rigours of academia. "If there is not a candidate who emerges as a very promising colleague, then suspend the search and search again rather than feel that you are forced into making a choice that you are not confident of," said Kesler. CBC (National)

Canada announces $5.3M to improve diversity and inclusion in academic research 

The Government of Canada has announced $5.3M of grant money for 15 post-secondary institutions to make academic research more inclusive. Federal Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan also announced the launch of a pilot program called Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada, which focuses on the barriers faced by groups such as Indigenous Peoples, women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community. “We know when we include everyone, our institutions will be stronger, our research will be better,” said Duncan. "You need that diversity of perspectives to ask diverse questions and to get results that'll benefit everyone." CBC (National)

Confederation SS features new Indigenous mural with "Water is Life" theme

Confederation Secondary School now features an Indigenous mural inspired by the Seven Grandfather Teachings. The mural was painted by students under the direction of local Indigenous artist Michael Cywink and took about two weeks to complete. "[The students] wanted to work together to develop a greater understanding for the culture and traditions of Indigenous peoples," said Confederation Secondary School Principal Marty Punkari. “The end result is a piece of art that will be enjoyed by students and staff for years to come.” The mural was designed under the theme “Water is Life” and incorporates many elements of traditional Indigenous art. "Students worked together respectively, and in harmony, a true form of reconciliation," explained Cywink, an Odawa Anishinabe who has been sharing his teachings with students from across the province. "The mural is a historic accomplishment in their lives that is meant to be shared with others. I hope that this project will remind students that when they work together, they can accomplish something beautiful and meaningful." Sudbury Star (ON)

UWinnipeg, MMF find MB Métis students less likely to be ready to start school

A recent study by the University of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Métis Foundation has found that Métis students are less likely to be ready to start school than the Canadian average. The study looked at the educational records from close to 60,000 children and evaluated their performance on the Early Development Instrument, a tool that measures kindergarten students’ readiness for school based on developmental milestones in five areas. It found that 35% of Manitoba Métis children were not ready to attend school, compared to the provincial average of 29% and national average of 27%. "It shows there's a failure here," said MMF President David Chartrand, noting that these rates were an issue for all of Manitoba. CBC (MB)

Northern SK collaboration springs up to address teacher shortage 

A teaching shortage in Northern Saskatchewan has led the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the Gabriel Dumont Institute to partner on training for local educators. Lac La Ronge Education Director Simon Bird told CBC that attracting educators from Southern SK to teach in the north has been difficult, adding that "what was missing is having our own First Nations perspective." A connection like that is pertinent, considering the teacher shortage that is affecting SK’s Northern Lights School Division, according to GDI Executive Director Geordy McCaffrey. "Basically, what we wanted to do is we wanted to train local people to take on teaching vacancies in the north," said McCaffrey. "And those people, we wanted to train them to be Métis and First Nations cultural experts, so that they could connect and share culture with 95 per cent of the school system that is Indigenous in the north." CBC reports that the program will take in around 25 to 30 applicants, but there have been about 70 applications so far. The preliminary costs so far are about $20K per year for each student, but this could change based on each student's circumstances. CBC (SK)

CEGEPs receive $151M from QC 

The Government of Quebec is allotting $151M for the province’s 48 CEGEPs, which is a reported 7.71% increase from its previous investments. Fédération des cégeps President Bernard Tremblay said the investment will enable CEGEPs to respond to the socio-economic and technological challenges of the day. According to a release, the funds will support a new college funding model, as well as covering the costs of the college network system. The CEGEPs will implement a resource allocation model that focuses on digital skills development, international recruitment, and resources for new Canadians. The money will also go towards providing students with a living environment conducive to their success and personal fulfilment through the introduction of learning centers, sports and cultural activities, and services for groups such as Indigenous and visible minority students. Fédération des cégeps (QC)

UBC X̱wi7x̱wa library introduces Indigenous approach to categorizing books

The X̱wi7x̱wa library at the University of British Columbia is working to decolonize the way libraries organize information by using an alternative to the widely used Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems. The article explains that library classification systems cannot easily incorporate Native American languages that use non-Roman characters, and that the Dewey Decimal Classification system often places books on Indigenous communities into the history section: "As a result, information on Native peoples literally gets left in the past." X̱wi7x̱wa librarian Kim Lawson explained that the library’s system helps students find specific information on tribes and emphasizes the importance Native communities put on the connection to place. "Part of the challenge is to articulate the need to those people who aren’t aware and hopefully get their buy-in that these are issues that need to be addressed," said acting head librarian Adolfo Tarango. "I think we are in a very opportune moment where a … broader discussion [can] happen." Both Lawson and Tarango stated that they are positive that the library can generate productive conversations. Open Democracy (BC)