Indigenous Top Ten

October 1, 2019

ON government’s REA framework removes barriers to education for First Nation students

The Government of Ontario has announced the creation of the new Reciprocal Education Approach (REA), a framework that aims to create a transparent process for First Nations youth and their families regarding whether they should study at a publicly funded school or a First Nation-operated school. “First Nations have long advocated for better access to education. It’s time we seize the opportunity to work with the province,” says Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. Coming into effect on September 1st, the REA eliminates the requirement for First Nations students to negotiate formal agreements on base fees for students attending a provincially-funded school or First Nation-operated school. “It’s about choices. The doors are opening up for our students to go to school in our communities or away. We have to support our students wherever they choose to go,” concludes Hare. Anishinabek News | Net News Ledger (ON)

Teachers’ education offers path forward to reconciliation

When it comes to teaching truth and reconciliation in Canada, teacher education offers a path to begin righting inequities and justice, write Lindsay Morcom and Kate Freeman of Queen’s University’s Faculty of Education. Morcom and Freeman write about how they work with teachers and teachers-to-be to engage with Canada’s legacy of colonization and help them to address truth and reconciliation through their teaching practice. They discuss the various obstacles that these teachers face, especially those who teach students of European heritage who might lack awareness of Indigenous issues or harbour “white fragility.” “For many teachers and teacher candidates, especially those who are non-Indigenous, the biggest obstacle we now see is fear,” the authors write. “These educators want to do the right thing but they are afraid of making the problem worse, of being guilty of cultural appropriation, of offending or misinforming.” The Conversation (National)

CBU, MUN partner to expand Indigenous Youth mentorship program

Cape Breton University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus to provide a provincial version of CBU’s In.Business: A Mentorship Program for Indigenous Youth. The program aims to connect Indigenous secondary students in grades 10-12 with Indigenous business mentors to give them a glimpse into postsecondary campus life and the benefits of business education. “By bringing this program to campus, we are enhancing opportunities for Indigenous youth and strengthening our ties to Indigenous communities,” explains Grenfell VP Jeff Keshen. Nation Talk (NS, NL)

ACC, Southern Chiefs partner to offer Restorative Justice Certificate, promote “Anishinaabe and Dakota worldviews”

Assiniboine Community College has partnered with the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) to deliver The Restorative Justice Certificate, a program that aims to provide an Indigenous perspective on justice for individuals who are already working within or who are interested in pursuing a career in justice. Beginning in January 2020, the program will feature classroom studies, a cultural camp, and a field placement through SCO in a community justice program within an Indigenous community. “The overall purpose of this program is to build capacity of our community members in administering forms of justice rooted in Anishinaabe and Dakota worldviews,” explains SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. NationTalk (MB)

Laurentian students celebrate Anishinaabek architecture through wiigwam project

Laurentian University students at the McEwen School of Architecture are completing their project to cover a traditional Anishinaabek structure, a wiigwam, in birch bark. Beginning in 2018, the land-based learning project led by local elders and knowledge-keepers has required students to harvest materials for the structure from land in in the nearby community of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. "I'm happy they're taking the right steps and the right precautions and being honourable with the elders they bring forward,” explains Whitefish River First Nation member and Laurentian student Jayden Daoust. Once completed, a feasting celebration open to the community will take place at Laurentian's Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre. “Having a highlight piece on our campus showing our Indigenous cultural structures reminds our students and puts into focus that this is here and this should be acknowledged and appreciate the beauty of that structure," said one student of the program, Grace Wilson. CBC (ON)

Indigenous high schoolers benefit from free business program facilitated by CBU-MUN partnership

Cape Breton University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus to enable Indigenous students from Newfoundland and Labrador to participate in a free provincial version of CBU’s In.Business: A Mentorship Program for Indigenous Youth. Grenfell’s version of the program will bring 20 Indigenous high schoolers to the university for a two-day conference where they will be grouped and paired with an Indigenous mentor who has a business background. Each group will work in-person and electronically on business projects and challenges related to entrepreneurship, financial literacy, budgeting, marketing and human resources, regrouping at a second conference the following May. "This program really helps students get to that next level and be confident in themselves, when they find themselves in that transition from being dependent on their parents to more independence," says Unama'ki College’s General Manager of In.Business, Nina Kent. CBC (NS)

Western partners with female First-Nations architect to design new Indigenous Learning Space

Western University has partnered with Redquill Architecture to help create a new Indigenous Learning Space on campus. Led by Canada’s first female First Nations architect, Wanda Dalla Costa of the Saddle Creek Cree Nation, the project will see more than 10,000 square feet of interior space over three levels transformed to include a gathering area, mezzanine, and teaching/classroom spaces, reports Western. The structure will also feature an outdoor classroom, relocated Indigenous food and medicine garden, and ceremonial space. Dalla Costa will use a four-part Indigenous framework to ensure that the space’s design is: led by community; driven by reciprocal relationships; focused on inclusion; and underpinned with understanding of the locale. “It is very much (focused) on doing the work of the place, in the place where it is based, with the people where it’s based,” said Dalla Costa. Renovations and project construction are set to begin in early 2020. Western (ON)

Enoch Cree Nation in AB opens doors to new school

On the 142nd anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6 with the Crown at Blackfoot Crossing, Enoch Cree Nation celebrated the grand opening of a new K-12 school named Maskêkosak Kiskinomâtowikamik. The name is Cree for “people of Enoch’s school.” “We’re finally seeing treaty happen in a good way,” said Chief Billy Morin. “This new school is really symbolic of that treaty relationship with the rest of Canadians and the rest of Albertans.” At the opening, students and community members gathered to paint a rainbow crosswalk outside the school’s main entrance in support of LGBTQ2S+ students and staff. The school was built to accommodate over 400 students. The school will feature land-based teaching and cultural learning, and Cree language classes will be taught for all levels at the school Edmonton Journal (AB)

Longhouse built to give Willie J Happyjack high school students place to learn traditional skills

Willie J Happjack High School in Waswanipi, Quebec has built the Sabtuan Culture Camp, an 18-by-6 metre wood longhouse where students will be able to learn and practice traditional activities. The site will allow students to learn how to skin a moose, make snowshoes, prepare goose, and make bannock. CBC reports that Cree culture classes will begin at the culture camp in the near future. "It will be used by all levels in school — elders will be invited to teach traditional skills. I can invite elders to tell traditional stories,” explained teacher Louis Saganash. Vice Principal Robert Laperle explained that elders do not always want to visit the regular classrooms given their experiences and bad memories from residential schools. The culture camp was inspired by a similar project at a nearby elementary school in 2017 and was funded by the Cree School Board. CBC (QC)

ON researchers create training tool focused on Indigenous women’s reproductive health

A new tool created by the University of Toronto, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Lakehead University, and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute is designed to help health-care professionals learn more about the social determinants of Indigenous women’s reproductive health. The online training program called “Hearing Our Voices” was designed by a research team that included several Indigenous women and incorporated feedback from 11 organizations across Canada. “Our hope is that if people take part in education, it will result in fewer discriminatory practices, and better skills among health-care providers,” said NOSM Assistant Professor Naana Jumah. “We also hope it will lead to better relationships with Indigenous patients and a greater ability to address Indigenous patients’ needs.” U of T (ON)