Indigenous Top Ten

October 16, 2019

Provincial revisions to curriculum range from “quite intense” changes in BC to stagnation in ON

"The process of including Indigenous history and perspectives into school curricula has been slow and there is still more work to be done,” write Jasmine Kabatay and Rhiannon Johnson. The authors highlight progress in regions across Canada and find that different provincial and territorial education systems have performed varying levels of revision to their curricula. British Columbia has seen “quite intense” revisions to its curriculum, with changes to the K-9 curriculum in 2016 and changes to Grades 11 and 12 coming into effect this September. Yukon school boards are using the BC curriculum as a model, with the addition of unique perspectives from First Nations in the territory. Nova Scotia has partnered with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and incorporated treaty education into the public school curriculum across all grade levels. On the other hand, the authors note that Manitoba’s “curriculum hasn’t really changed,” that Quebec still does not have any mandatory Indigenous content in its curriculum, and that Ontario is awaiting a second round of revisions. CBC (National)

Ivujivik-Puvirnituq-UQAT Group launches Inuktitut education lexicon

A partnership between education stakeholders in two Nunavik communities – Ivujivik Ivujivik and Puvirnituq – and at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue has celebrated the launch of the Inuktitut Lexicon in Education. Work on the lexicon began in 1984 as part of the group’s Inuit teacher training programs, as it was clear that specialized Inuktitut terminology would need to be developed for use in education. "It's a tool, like the dictionary," said Sarah Angiyou, a teacher in Puvirnituq. "We'll use it to perpetuate our mother tongue. It's very important to continue the work and get the lexicon into students' hands. That's how we can keep our language alive." The release states that the lexicon’s launch "is the culmination of a complex, multi-step process to arrive at a consensus on every translation, every Inuktitut word, and every definition.” Newswire | Lexicon (QC)

MFNERC, Yellowquill announce merger as part of development of FN-governed institution

The Manitoba First Nation Education Resource Centre’s Training Institute and Yellowquill College have formally merged. The merger, which is part of a Manitoba First Nation Post-Secondary Strategy, is the first phase in the development of a First Nations-governed postsecondary institution. The merger will encourage the continued development of postsecondary degree programming rooted in First Nations worldviews, language, cultures, teachings, and pedagogy, as well as increase student accessibility with the opening of more locations across Manitoba. “MFNERC has been here for 20 years, staffed with professional educators with degrees, experience, and knowledge,” said Sean Lake First Nation Chief Francine Meeches. “Who better than MFNERC to oversee Yellowquill College, as the longest-standing First Nations-run education center?” NationTalk | Winnipeg Free Press (Subscription Required) (MB)

UNBC partners with Lheidli T’enneh Nation, enables students to attend UNBC at no cost

The University of Northern British Columbia has partnered with the Lheidli T’enneh Nation to create two programs that will enable Lheidli students to attend UNBC at no cost to the student. While one program addresses Lheidli students that meet UNBC admission requirements, another program works with Lheidli students who do not meet admission requirements but demonstrate academic promise. For both programs, UNBC will cover Lheidli students’ tuition costs, and the Lheidli T’enneh Nation will cover funding to support student needs that can include housing, food, transportation, fees (other than tuition), textbooks, and tutoring. “This new Agreement with UNBC is a specific example of what reconciliation looks like,” says Lheidli T’enneh Nation Chief Clay Pountney. “This is a win-win for both ourselves and UNBC. It also addresses a common misunderstanding in Canada that all Indigenous people have unlimited access to post-secondary education, which simply isn’t the case.” UNBC (BC)

Fort Simpson schools shed names, become Liidlii Kue Elementary School, Regional High School

Two schools in Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories have shed their former names in favour of Indigenous names. Bompas Hall Elementary School has been renamed Liidlii Kue Elementary School and Thomas Simpson Secondary School has been renamed Liidlii Kue Regional High School. In the Dehcho Dene language, Liidlii Kue means “place where two rivers meet” and is the traditional name of the community. "I think it's more about going back to using the Indigenous language and what it stands for," said Marty Leach, the principal of both schools. "We had a stew and bannock and did a little ceremony." CBC | NationTalk (NWT)

Bishop’s receives $5.9M to transform Divinity House into Indigenous Students’ Gathering Space

Bishop’s University has received a $5.9M investment from the Quebec government to transform the institution’s Divinity House into an Indigenous Students’ Gathering Space and Resource Centre. The transformation of the Divinity House is part of the university’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action. The centre will feature spaces for seminars as well as resource centres, classrooms, offices for faculty and staff, and apartments for visiting elders and academics. “As an Indigenous student here at Bishop’s University, I am deeply grateful personally for further initiatives such as this one being put forward for the Indigenous students and community, and I know my feelings are shared by many of my peers,” says Shawna Chatterton-Jerome, co-Lead of Bishop’s Indigenous Cultural Alliance and Turtle Island intern. Bishop’s | CBC (QC)

AUArts launches Indigenous peer mentorship program

The Alberta University of the Arts has launched the Aahwaatkamooksi Peer Mentorship Program to support first-year Indigenous students in their transition to postsecondary education. The Blackfoot word “Aahwaatkamooksi” describes the program’s aim of connecting first-year Indigenous students with senior Indigenous students and Elders to support their academic, personal, and cultural growth. “Aahwaatkamooksi was set up to provide leadership and a sense of belonging, as many students enter an environment unknown to them, as it is a take away from cultural connections,” said Elder Casey Eagle. “This program is meant to connect new students to mentors to guide and provide support on their journey in AUArts. The goal is to gain retention and successful completion of their endeavours, to have a sense of belonging and connection.” AUArts (AB)

Communities, London ON school board meet to discuss ways to keep students safe in light of racist incidents

Indigenous students who attend Saunders Secondary School in London, ON have returned to class after escalating racial tensions between students at the school saw parents encouraged to keep their children home and First Nations communities cancel their school buses. CBC reports that Indigenous students reported being taunted and threatened with violence at the high school, in addition to reports of fights in the parking lot of a nearby mall. Community members from Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Munsee Delaware Nation met with Thames Valley School Board officials to discuss strategies to address the issue. "A lot of the parents who are attending the meeting were students at Saunders," said mom Pamela Chisjohn. “The grandparents who were there talked about what they encountered 30 years ago, 20 years ago, last year. It's an ongoing thing that hasn't been addressed adequately.” CBC | CBC (ON)

Saskatoon schools have trouble finding Cree-speaking teachers for popular immersion programs

Cree language programs have become so popular in Saskatchewan that school divisions are struggling to find qualified teachers, reports the Chronic Herald. In 2017-2018, the SK education ministry recorded 861 students enrolled in Cree immersion programs, a 67% increase from the 2014-2015 school year. “Our families and our parents are now saying they do want their children to learn the language and culture because of history, and because they themselves do not have the language,” says Principal of Confederation Park Elementary Pete Chief. However, the cost of living in certain communities and culture shock are reported as being barriers to attracting Cree-speaking teachers. “We have to be realistic about our ability to staff a new school. The quality of language speakers and the availability is better, but it certainly does take some extraordinary efforts,” said Superintendent of Learning Services for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Gordon Martell. Chronicle Herald (SK)

UAlberta student union formally adopts ARRC recommendations

The Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Committee, a sub-committee of the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union, has held a launch party to commemorate the SU's formal adoption of over 60 recommendations. “We wanted to have a public facing event for all students to be able to come and view the recommendations. We also wanted a public event so that students know that this is the SU’s priority and now their responsibility,” said Nathan Sunday, chair of ARRC. “We didn’t just want a quiet thing where students’ Union could brush it under the rug — we wanted something big so that everyone can hold the Students’ Union accountable.” Katherine Belcourt, president of the Aboriginal Students Council (ASC), stated that she hopes adopting the recommendations will act to strengthen and maintain the relationship between ASC and the SU. Gateway Online (AB)