Indigenous Top Ten

July 10, 2019

Canada contributes $9.1M to national centre for Indigenous law at UVic

The Government of Canada has contributed $9.1M toward a proposed national centre for Indigenous law at the University of Victoria. According to the Victoria Times-Colonist, the centre will house UVic’s dual-degree program in Canadian Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders. It will include lecture theatres, faculty offices, an Elders’ room and "spaces for gathering, ceremony, and sharing of histories and knowledge," UVic adds. "I see this as a small step in the journey toward reconciliation and an investment in our future where Indigenous legal orders will be honoured and recognized," said Indigenous law student Amanda Vick. “We are challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries, and working to decolonize the institution. We are in a time of strength and resurgence.” The government will also provide UVic’s law faculty with an additional $173K over three years to develop courses and field studies in Indigenous communities. Times Colonist (BC)

Onion Lake Cree Nation celebrates start of construction of new high school

Onion Lake Cree Nation has celebrated the beginning of construction on a new high school with a sod turning ceremony. The school will feature a large gym, lecture theatre, and indoor running track. “Congratulations to Chief Lewis and the Onion Lake Cree Nation council on this exciting and important project,” said Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan. “Education is critical to improving opportunities for First Nations youth, and all students need safe, welcoming learning environments to achieve their best. This new high school will provide the students of Onion Lake Cree Nation with a modern space in which to learn and reach their potential.” Canada (AB | SK)

Maple Ridge, Osoyoos build child care spaces with provincial funding

The City of Maple Ridge and the Town of Osoyoos have received funding from the Government of British Columbia to increase child care availability in the region. Three licensed child care facilities in Osoyoos will be expanded to add a total of 61 licensed child care spaces. Additionally, the Osoyoos Child Care Centre will work closely with the Osoyoos Indian Band to teach children about local Indigenous culture and language. A new child care centre in Maple Ridge co-located with South Albion Elementary School, will teach children about Indigenous culture through activities such as story time, traditional songs, and dance. “We believe access to licensed, good quality child care is something that all B.C. parents deserve,” said Katrine Conroy, the BC Minister of Children and Family Development. “It should not matter if you live in a large or small community.” Nation Talk (Maple Ridge) | Nation Talk (Osoyoos) (BC)

Communities, U of T researchers come together to improve infrastructure, food security

Researchers at the Centre for Global Engineering at the University of Toronto are collaborating with Indigenous communities to address pressing infrastructure challenges facing geographically disparate communities across Canada. A U of T release states that CGEN’s Reconciliation Through Engineering Initiative will identify six projects that aim to improve access to clean drinking water, food security, housing, health care, transportation, and communication systems from a multi-disciplinary and holistic perspective. “Our first step was to meet with Indigenous elders, youth, men and women to really understand – first and foremost – how we may approach a collaborative research relationship founded on respect and reciprocity,” said program lead Sonia Molodecky. UTM (ON)

High school Indigenous students voice concern about CBE plans to shift supports

Students of a First Nation, Metis, and Inuit graduation coach program are expressing concern about the Calgary Board of Education’s recent announcement that it will shift the focus of its Indigenous support away from high school students and toward the elementary and middle school levels. CTV News reports that the majority of high schools will not have on-premise cultural supports and that any staff associated with the coaching program are uncertain about the future of their jobs. “The program has helped me so much. I’m a stronger person for it. I built up my character and I’m not shy to be native,” said Chondra Fox, a Grade 11 student in the graduation coach program. "I’ll wear feathers in my hair and paint my face, that’s who I am." CTV News (AB)

MSVU, Mi’kmaw friendship centre partner on community-based classroom for Indigenous students

Last week, the Halifax-based Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and Mount Saint Vincent University announced a new project that will transform the friendship centre into a living classroom for Indigenous students. Beginning this September, a group of 15 to 18 students will take six university half-credit courses in mathematics, writing, research skills, public speaking, and social sciences during the fall and winter academic terms at the Centre from MSVU instructors. The Star reports that in addition to tutoring, career counselling, and group interaction, complementary activities will be woven into the curriculum. “To know that you have all of this support and all of these people behind you, rooting for you, making sure that anything that comes up, you know we’re helping you to take care of it — I think it’ll make a huge difference,” said program co-ordinator and Acadia First Nation member Brittany Whynot. “Everything is right here.” The Star (NS)

Educational institutions raise flags, unveil artwork, to celebrate local Indigenous groups

Several institutions have raised flags, unveiled artwork and murals, and taken up other formal reminders of their position on traditional territory or relationship with local Indigenous groups. The University of Lethbridge recently formalized its territorial statements, acknowledging its location on traditional Blackfoot Confederacy territory. Vancouver Island University raised the flags of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and Metis Nation Flags at its Nanaimo Campus. Pine Street Elementary School in Sherwodd Park, Alberta unveiled a painting – created as a collaboration between the students and visiting Artist-in-Residence Keith Nolan of the Missanabie Cree Frist Nation – that depicts the Seven Sacred Teachings. “Working with these students is an experience that’s hard to explain,” said Nolan. “With my technical knowledge and their youth, innocence, truth, goodness and virtuous spirit, a beautiful painting was realized.” ULethbridge | VIU | Nation Talk (Pine Street Elementary) (National)

USask BEd program to be delivered in Cumberland House through community partnership

The University of Saskatchewan, Northern Lights School Division, Cumberland House Cree Nation, The Northern Village of Cumberland House, and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan have signed a memorandum of understanding that supports the delivery of a Bachelor of Education program at Cumberland House. A release states that programming will focus on the four-year B.Ed. elementary/middle years stream with teaching areas of Cree and Indigenous studies. "It’s historic when representatives of Cumberland House Cree Nation, the school division, the Metis Nation and The Northern Village of Cumberland House all say let’s do this together, let’s make this a reality," said Jason Young, Director of Education with the Northern Lights School Division. “This MOU brings together many diverse interests, but all with a desire to bring post-secondary education to our youth.” The program, which expects to admit 25 to 35 students this coming September, will have dedicated space in Charlebois Community School. Nation Talk (SK)

Indigenous languages unveiled on FNTI website

The First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) has added Cree, Kanien’kéha and Anishnaabemowin languages to much of its website content in order to highlight the significance of language revitalization for FNTI and its community. “Saving our Indigenous languages is crucial to safeguarding traditional heritage and protecting cultural identity,” said Adam Hopkins, FNTI VP, Enrolment Management and Student Services. “Language is the foundation of culture and we believe in the shared responsibility of celebrating, embodying and preserving it for the well-being of communities everywhere.” The Institute stated that preserving mother tongue education ensures the continuation and transmission of culture, customs, and history from generation to generation. Nation Talk (ON)

OCADU launches Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge

OCAD University has launched Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge as part of its celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day. A release states that the Centre facilitates the "documentation, communication and translation of Indigenous ways of seeing." As part of its launch, the Centre celebrated milestones and research initiatives such as the Arctic/Amazon Symposium, which developed interconnections between Amazonian Indigenous and Inuit thinkers, artists, and activists; "The Entangled Gaze: Knowledge Exchange Workshop," which took place at the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Linagaay in February 2019; and the Virtual Platform for Indigenous Art, a “digital gathering place for data on historical and contemporary Indigenous art, connecting Indigenous communities with researchers and museums.” OCADU (ON)