Indigenous Top Ten

June 12, 2019

Canada, Métis Nation sign PSE sub-accord to improve outcomes of Métis students and programs

The Government of Canada and Métis National Council have signed the Canada-Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Sub-Accord. The sub-accord comes on the heels of a post-secondary education review announced in Budget 2017 and is described as "a historic step in closing the postsecondary education attainment gap between Métis Nation citizens and non-Indigenous Canadians." The Sub-Accord establishes new approaches for improving the education outcomes of Métis students and programs, as well as focusing on student support, community-based programs and services, and governance capacity. "Through this agreement, Métis Nation students will have long overdue equal opportunities to pursue post-secondary education," said Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan. "I commend our partner, the Métis National Council, for providing a brighter future for Métis Nation youth through education, as Canada continues its journey of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada." Métis Nation (National)

Changes to ON Indigenous curriculum draws praise for content, criticism for optional nature 

The Government of Ontario has recently announced the updated Indigenous curriculum, to be launched this September, which has drawn mixed responses from groups across the province. The new curriculum includes 10 electives in areas such as Canadian Indigenous contributions to art, literature, law, humanities, politics, and history. Tungasuvvingat Inuit stated that they are happy to see that several of the recommendations they made to ON were accepted by ministry, but added that the success of the curriculum will be seen in its delivery. "When we started looking at what was there, predominantly it was through a First Nations lens," said TI Director Jason Leblanc. "For us, we wanted to ensure it would broadly address the Inuit reality." Several critics have panned the decision to make the new courses electives, despite the TRC’s recommendation to make Indigenous studies mandatory. "It feels like the anchor’s being sent to the bottom," said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. "What’s going to happen to all these things we’ve been putting in our education system? Our curriculum, books, starting to write our own language and all that?" |  Nunatsiaq (ON)

MRU to increase housing capacity, upgrade units for Indigenous students with donation

Mount Royal University’s Indigenous Housing Program (IHP) will be doubling its capacity and becoming more affordable, thanks to a $300K donation from philanthropists David and Leslie Bissett. The IHP will use the funds to undertake necessary upgrades to kitchens, bathrooms, and other amenities in the units; house up to eight families; and provide bursaries to increase the affordability of the program. "Every family in the program has succeeded and the IHP creates belonging and links students to academic support services," said Iniskim Centre Director John Fischer. "Children grow up on campus knowing that one day, they will go to university." Debbie Crazyboy of the Piikani First Nation, who will graduate from MRU’s education program this year, stated that the stable housing has been pivotal to her success and cut her costs in half. "Everything went up for us," said Crazyboy. "It was a real pivotal point in my life. My self-esteem and self-advocacy increased and I definitely became more confident in my studies." MRU (AB)

Iqaluit DEA makes Inuktitut mandatory in Grade 10  

The Iqaluit District Education Authority has announced that Inuktitut will be a mandatory course for Grade 10 students in both semesters at Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School this fall. The decision was made at the request of the high school’s outgoing principal, Jay Thomas, and reverses an earlier decision made during the DEA’s last meeting on May 13 to not implement mandatory Inuktitut courses in Grade 10. "I’m quite emotional about this topic," said Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone, who strongly encouraged the DEA to support a new motion to make the course mandatory. "As an Inuk that lost my Inuktitut, I find myself feeling quite ashamed about it on a near-daily basis. Had I had the opportunity to take it in high school, then I might have been in a different position today." Board member Andrea Witzaney-Chown noted the difficulty for principals to get substitutes and recommended the creation of an Inuktitut second-language coordinator, who would oversee Inuktitut education in all four schools and as a built-in substitute. Nunatsiaq (NU)

UCalgary unveils newly named Writing Symbols Lodge  

The University of Calgary has recently unveiled the new name of the Native Centre: the Writing Symbols Lodge. The name was gifted by the Traditional Knowledge Keepers from Treaty 7 territory and beyond earlier this year. The Lodge is a student support service focused on creating an inclusive community for Indigenous students while also hosting intercultural learning for the non-indigenous community at UCalgary. The chosen name comes from a story shared by Blackfoot Elder Wallace Bear Chief and means "the place where we go to make symbols." "The new name, Writing Symbols Lodge, is a significant step in the right direction," said Amanda Ens, manager, Native Centre. "Having places and spaces on the UCalgary campus that align with the various Indigenous identities of students is important to our campus-wide Indigenous strategy as we welcome unprecedented numbers of Indigenous students to the campus in their pursuit of academic excellence." UCaglary (AB)

Lheidli T'enneh calls for seat on BC school board

The Lheidli T'enneh First Nation has called on the School District 57 board of trustees to reserve or create a seat for the First Nation. "It's time a Lheidli trustee was part of the decision-making process to ensure the interests of our community and all Indigenous students are protected within our territory," explained Chief Clay Pountnay, who stated that LTFN was duty-bound to be at the table to represent the interests of both LTFN students and other Indigenous students from the area. SD57 issued a statement in which Board Chair Tim Bennett stated that the board is looking forward to working with Pountney and will be scheduling a meeting in the very near future. SD57 also noted that the board provided unanimous support to the motion to form an ad hoc committee and partner with local First Nations, community groups, and government in order to review how the district can implement calls of action to the Truth and Reconciliation Report and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Prince George Citizen (BC)

SaskPolytech offering free online Indigenous studies course as part of new strategy

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has launched a new online Indigenous studies course that is available for free to anyone over the age of 13. The single-credit MOOC takes about 15 hours to complete and covers Indigenous history and culture, colonization, and reconciliation. The course focuses in particular on deepening the student's understanding of Indigenous nations of Saskatchewan. "I think in the past we've had a gap in our education system around Indigenous studies and the historical perspective of it," said SaskPolytech’sDirector of Indigenous Strategy Jason Seright. "We're really passionate about that and wanting to maybe close that gap and allow people the opportunity to learn more about the Indigenous groups within Saskatchewan." CBC | SaskPolytech (SK)

Canadore, FNTI renew educational delivery partnership  

Canadore College and First Nations Technical Institute have renewed the educational delivery partnership that they have had in place for over 25 years. FNTI will continue to deliver Canadore programs on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, including First Peoples Aviation Technology, Indigenous Community and Justice Services, and Early Childhood Education. "Canadore College has been our college partner of choice for over 25 years of our 35-year history," said FNTI President Suzanne Brant. "Our values are separate and distinct, yet they intersect within the foundation of respect and relationship-building. We are both committed to empowering individuals through education, providing cultural support and positive transformations." Brant added that FNTI is in the process of actively developing stand-alone curricula, including an Indigenous Sustainable Food Systems program. Canadore (ON)

Land-based education in SK becoming more than a trend 

Learning on the land in Saskatchewan has become more than “just a trend,” reports CBC, as land-based learning methods have begun to move into non-Indigenous schools as well. "Really, the system we have now isn't a very traditional system, it's a young, maybe 150-year old system and it's failing our children," said Phillip Brass, who teaches a number of students in the Prairie Valley School Division’s land-based learning programming. "We're actually reverting back to a much more traditional learning style." Bert Fox Community High School Principal Julie Stiglitz stated that the land-based learning program at their school encompasses several different subjects: "They've done fishing, fish filleting, ice fishing, they've done rabbit snaring, we had dog sleds in, so they led dog sleds and those kinds of things." Brass added that the learning provides non-Indigenous students with an opportunity to engage in a tangible form of reconciliation, develop a "real grasp of where they live," and deepen their connection with the world and people around them. CBC (SK)

SK Grade 12 student pitches policy to support Indigenous languages  

Grade 12 student Elgar Pakingan from Saskatchewan recently won a policy pitch contest called Creating a Better Canada and has seen his policy pitch turned into a private members’ bill. The contest was originally created by NDP MP Nathan Cullen in 2009 in order to engage, educate, and excite high school students to help write a federal law. Pakingan pitched a policy focused on improving the Indigenous Languages Act after reading about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Cals to Action in school. MPs Sheri Benson, Romero Saganash, and Gerogina Jolibois helped to draft Bill C-443, An Act to Protect, Maintain, Revitalize and Strengthen Indigenous Languages from Pakingan’s pitch. The bill was introduced as a private members bill April 29th and is currently being studied at a Senate committee. APTN News (SK)