Indigenous Top Ten

August 7, 2019

Hawaii telescope project draws concerns from Canadian faculty, students, groups

The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea has drawn serious concerns from Indigenous groups, students, and academics from across Canada and beyond. The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), which includes 20 universities, has been a partner in the telescope project since its inception in 2003. "Indigenous people across the country stand with each other no matter what side of the [Canada-U.S.] border we fall," said Tomas Jirousek, the Indigenous affairs commissioner at McGill University's Students' Society. “We are taking action and hopefully holding our universities to account when it comes to standing complicit.” The University of British Columbia issued a statement calling for a 60-day moratorium on construction of the TMT, and the University of Victoria issued a statement indicating that it is “fundamentally important to us” that the TMT “be developed in a way that respects local communities and their cultural practices.” The Province reports that controversy over the project has grown since 35 Hawaiian elders, or kūpuna, were arrested on July 17th. CBC | The Province (National) | UVic

Indigenous-led initiative at YorkU to equip youth with skills training with support of new funding

An initiative designed by York University students to connect and support Indigenous youth will receive new funding from the federal government under the Canada Service Corps program. YorkU reports that the Indigenous Friends Association will use the investment to equip 120 First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and non-Indigenous youth with the skills and training required to reduce employment and education gaps in technology, all while engaging in a process of reconciliation through collaborative learning and civic engagement. The project will be led and implemented by the Indigenous community of York in partnership with YWCA Canada and Digital Justice Lab. Local partnerships have been developed in Ontario with Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, Elephant Thoughts, Mikinaak, and in Saskatchewan with the YWCA Regina, North Central Hacker Dojo, West Flat Citizens Group.  YorkU  (ON)

Nass Valley families to benefit from child care centre

In the Nass Valley region of British Columbia, families will soon be able to benefit from the first fully licensed child care centre in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh). The Nass Valley Child Centre will help families to stay in the Nass Valley and entice professionals to move to the region. The Government of British Columbia has provided School District 92 with $492K to create the centre and 32 licensed child care spaces. “For a number of years, there have been aspirations to bring a fully licensed child care centre to the community of Gitlaxt’aamiks for all the parents of the four Nisga’a communities in School District 92,” said Elsie Davis, SD 92 board chair. “This new facility will give parents peace of mind and allow them to continue to be productive contributors to our school district and our communities.” The centre will involve Nisga’a culture in every aspect of early learning, include regular visits from Elders, and provide free hot lunches. NationTalk (BC )

Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation celebrate official opening of independently operated education centre

The Lac des Mille Lacs Education Centre has celebrated its official opening in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The centre is the first in the city to be independently operated by a First Nation community, and the TB News Watch reports that the centre will offer a one-of-a-kind educational experience for members of the First Nation and the Thunder Bay community. The centre currently hosts high school and daycare services, and will offer a JK/SK program in September, with grades 1 through 8 to be added year by year. Students and parents will benefit from a wraparound service program with wellness, recreational, spiritual, and cultural supports. “This school will be different,” said the school’s education director Andy Graham. “We’re looking at a very creative approach to education. A lot of land-based experiential learning.” TB News Watch | CBC (ON)

Cross-Canadian Feast Centre at McMaster to address STBBIs among Indigenous populations

A multidisciplinary, cross-Canadian project based at McMaster University has received $4.8M in federal funding to respond to the growing problem of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) among Indigenous populations. In response to priorities identified by Indigenous stakeholders, workers of the Feast Centre for Indigenous STBBI Research will incorporate Indigenous knowledge and ways of living into their research. McMaster reports that the centre will bring together dozens of partners—researchers, clinicians, community members, Indigenous elders, people with lived experience of STBBIs, advocacy groups, non-profit agencies and many others—from every province.   McMaster (1)   | McMaster (2)   (ON)

First Nations initiative in Cape Breton to help students find career success after graduation

The federal government has announced nearly $1M in funding to support a program that prepares Indigenous students in Cape Breton for post-secondary education and future career success. CBC reports that the Mi'kmaw Economic Benefits Office will use the funds to support its existing programs, which include promoting employment opportunities and apprenticeships, recruiting from First Nations communities, delivering small business and personal finance workshops, and helping new high school graduates prepare for post-secondary. It will also help the office launch a new program aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous people in science, technology, engineering, math, and business fields.   CBC  (NS)

Regina-based organization focused on teaching newcomers about Indigenous history, culture

The Regina Open Door Society is working to combat the negative attitudes and stereotypes about Indigenous people that young newcomers are “bombarded with” when they first arrive in the country. The society is currently holding a summer program for youth called Reconciliation through Education that teaches newcomers about historic events in Canada that have impacted Indigenous people and involves them in First Nations cultural practices. "You should learn about Canada and its history, and the people who lived here before, before coming to Canada and before assuming something they are," said Raj Metker, who moved to Regina from India one year ago. "I think all the newcomers should help Indigenous people regain and recover from the previous things. I am doing that by learning about them.” Youth case worker Megan Brooks described the program as an “introduction of starting to build bridges rather than […] divides.” CBC (SK)

UNBC issues call for Indigenous artists to create permanent campus installation

The University of Northern British Columbia has issued a Request for Proposals asking Indigenous, BC-based artists to create a permanent, public art installation for UNBC’s Prince George campus. The university reports that the successful commission will become part of the University Artwork Collection and will complement the teaching and academic research needs of the University and the general public. A total of $20K is available to the artist, or artist-led team, to cover all the costs of the creation, transport, and installation of the art project. “For years now, various groups across the campus have been building this proposal. We want ongoing, contemporary engagements with Indigenous art to be part of the relationships, learning, and teaching that happens here,” says Zoë Meletis, a faculty member on several committees that have been advocating for the permanent art.  UNBC  (BC)

ON teacher uses Twitter to revive Munsee language

In Southwestern Ontario, educator Ian McCallum is using social media to revive the Munsee language. McCallum is a First Nations and Métis resource and elementary school teacher in the Barrie area, and he has begun posting translations and phrases to Twitter twice a day to reach people interested in the language. “I do simple vocabulary (translation) or I do things I think people find interesting. Sometimes I get off the beaten track and I will translate a song from the Eighties or Seventies for interest sake,” said McCallum. “It’s important to me because I believe a lot of the stories and deeper understanding of the culture is in the language. If the language ceases to exist, you lose that deeper meaning and connections with the world around you.” The Kingston Whig Standard states that McCallum uses his knowledge to create the language curriculum for Munsee-Delaware Nation. The Kingston Whig Standard (ON)

USask, Arctic College receive funding to enhance legal education in NU

The University of Saskatchewan Nunavut Law Program at the Nunavut Arctic College has received funding from the federal government to address the need for more practicing lawyers in Nunavut. Business Insider reports that the funding will enable students to engage in experiential learning opportunities in legal advocacy and will establish a legal clinic in Iqaluit where they can gain hands-on law practice experience. The program is a partnership between Nunavut Arctic College and the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. "This funding will help us provide our students with new opportunities to engage actively with the legal profession, obtain hands on practical skills, and their knowledge of Inuit Traditional Law,” said Stephen Mansell, Director of USask’s Nunavut Law Program. Business Insider  (SK)