Indigenous Top Ten

November 13, 2019

Walking the talk of recognition through walking land acknowledgements: Opinion

“What do groups mean when they say they recognize Indigenous presence, resilience and Land?” asks Matthew Robert Anderson. According to the author, settlers need to do more than “talk the talk” of Land acknowledgements by offering “walking acknowledgements,” which offer a way for non-Indigenous persons to demonstrate their verbal acknowledgement about unceded and traditional territories. Several Indigenous academics argue that Indigenous ways of knowing require the bodily recognition of one’s relationship to Creation and to others. “Only when Land acknowledgements are fully lived out — that is, when they deepen into meaningful economic, political and cultural change, will we really be walking in the true direction of reconciliation,” explains the author. However, Anderson cautions that walking acknowledgements “are only first steps toward education and consciousness-raising,” and should be organized in consultation with Indigenous communities. The Conversation (National)

FSIN, STF raise concerns over gap in First-Nations’ graduation rates

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) have called for an immediate investment in education to help address the graduation gap between Indigenous students and their peers in the province. According to Saskatchewan's auditor report, 86.5% of non-Indigenous students in 2018 were graduating within three years, while the same was true for only 44.5% for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students. While the report also indicates Indigenous graduation rates have climbed by 41% between 2004-05 and 2018, the FSIN and STF say they have observed a drop of about 1% in the last year. “First Nations students continue to face barriers and obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential in school,” said FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt. “Government has to step up to the plate and ensure the proper support systems are in place to increase First Nations graduation rates.” CBC | Nation Talk (SK)

MacEwan launches new Indigenous Centre, kihêw waciston

MacEwan University has launched the kihêw waciston Indigenous Centre, a gathering space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The space includes a large multi-purpose gathering room, a holistic wellness room, dining area, meeting rooms, and office spaces. MacEwan Director of Indigenous Initiatives Terri Suntjens describes the centre as “encompass[ing] elements in its design that are meaningful to Indigenous ways of knowing, being and gathering,” adding that “the larger space will have a big impact on our students, staff and faculty because it creates opportunities to engage, create, and learn.” CTV (AB)

NB, universities partner to deliver FutureReadyWabanaki program

The Government of New Brunswick and the four publicly funded universities have partnered to create FutureReadyWabanaki, an initiative that helps Indigenous University students become job-ready while supporting employers in finding and recruiting qualified employees. The program will provide Indigenous student with on-the-job experience prior to graduation; improve the job readiness of Indigenous students; and support growth, recruitment, and retention for employers. “Through FutureReadyWabanaki, we are able to strengthen the University of New Brunswick’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action by valuing Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing by enhancing Indigenous students’ access to experiential education,” said UNB President Paul Mazerolle. NB (NB)

Trent continues reconciliation efforts with honorific naming, protocol handbook

Trent University has continued its response to TRC report recommendations by launching new initiatives that support the strengthening of the institution’s relationships with local Michi Saagiig (Mississauga) Anishnaabeg communities. This past week, two names have been gifted by the Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers Council: Mnidoowag A’Kiing or the Spirit Lands was given to a traditional arae with a medicine garden, tipi, and wigwam; while an Indigenous Learning Space was named Giizhigaatig, or Cedar Room. In addition, Trent has released a protocol handbook that supports faculty, staff, and students in learning about the treaty and traditional territory on which Trent is located, and in engaging with reconciliation during their time at Trent. Trent (ON)

UWindsor launches Indigenous Legal Order Institute, addresses legacy of settler-colonialism

The University of Windsor has launched a new Indigenous Legal Order Institute to promote and assist in the revitalization and dissemination of Indigenous legal orders. The Institute aims to mobilize UWindsor's institutional capacity and legal expertise to provide research that will further the needs of Indigenous communities locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally, addressing the interruption of Indigenous knowledges caused by settler-colonialism. “Windsor Law has strived to respond meaningfully to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in recent years,” says UWindsor Law Dean Christopher Waters. “Among other things, we have placed Indigenous Legal Orders at the heart of what we do in our first-year program and we have instituted an elder-in-residence program.” UWindsor (ON)

QC school board to address bilingual nursing shortage in Indigenous communities with new program

The New Frontiers School Board in Quebec has been authorized to offer the Health, Assistance, and Nursing program of vocational training. The three-year provisional authorization will allow for the training of a cohort of 20 students each year to help meet the need for bilingual nursing assistants in Indigenous communities and the Montérégie region. “The need for workers in various fields, including health, is constantly evolving,” said Jean-François Roberge, QC Minister of Education and Higher Education. “Thanks to this program, the New Frontiers School Board will be able train more students to provide services in English in this field. It is in taking concrete action like this that we help meet the needs that have been brought to our attention.” NationTalk (QC)

Kashechewan opens new $15M temporary school

The Kashechewan First Nation in Ontario has partially opened a new $15M temporary school after a year of shuffling students between the community’s high school and portables. Last year, the children of the Kashechewan community became national news when the First Nation declared the existing St. Andrew's School to be "unsafe and unhealthy," reports CBC. Director of education for the Hishkoonikun Education Authority James Wesley originally asked the federal government for $30M for the new school based on a consultant's report. However, Wesley told CBC that the government was hesitant to provide funding, since planning was already underway to move the entire community off the flood plain of the Albany River. Wesley hopes that the federal government will spend $3.2M to add a gymnasium to the new school, but is also worried if the new school will accommodate the community’s needs given the current baby boom it is experiencing. CBC (ON)

New Westminster creates policy that incorporates Indigenous lens to building, facility naming

BC’s New Westminster School District’s operations committee has unanimously approved a recommendation from staff to replace the current policy on naming facilities. the new policy includes a set of guiding principles which include not naming buildings after people and instead giving buildings and facilities names that reflect meaningful historic events and Indigenous culture and history. Specifically, the policy states that the names of new schools are to reflect one or more of the following: historic places; historic events; special characteristics of the area; long-term residents; and/or people who have made a significant contribution to the city or neighbourhood community. Additionally, the new policy states that school names are to relate to the immediate area in which they are located. New Westminster Record (BC)

UManitoba signals new era with appointment of VP Indigenous

The University of Manitoba has announced the appointment of Dr. Catherine Cook to the position of VP (Indigenous), a new role at the institution that comes at the recommendation of a special internal report. The university notes that the report was developed by the committee established in February 2019 by Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Janice Ristock to assess the existing mandate and support structures for Indigenous senior leadership and provide recommendations going forward on the role and its mandate, appropriate reporting structures and units, and necessary supports. Dr. Cook is Métis and grew up in Northern Manitoba. She is currently an Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Head of Ongomiizwin – Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing and Vice-Dean, Indigenous Health, all in UManitoba’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. UManitoba (MB)