Indigenous Top Ten

November 27, 2019

“When will the future of Indigenous people be worth investing in?”: Opinion

“For all the talk of reconciliation, in my opinion, there is a lot to be desired,” writes Celeste Bird of the Public School system. The author recounts moving to Regina from the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation at the age of six and finding a lack of Indigenous representation and cultural support at her new school. The author goes on to describe the loss of cultural knowledge and identity that has come with not being able to learn Cree language, receive knowledge and access to traditional ceremonies, attend powwows, or create her own regalia. “I believe fewer Indigenous youth would struggle academically and drop out of school if they felt supported in a way familiar to them, in a comfortable environment,” the author concludes, adding that, “I know this all comes down to funding. It's all about the money and work it takes to actively implement these programs. To that response I say: When will the future of Indigenous people be worth investing in?” CBC (National)

Tribal council in BC defends school smudging ceremonies against mother seeking ban

The Nuu-chah-nulth tribal council in British Columbia is defending the use of smudging ceremonies in schools in response to a court case filed by a Vancouver Island mother who says that participating in such a ritual infringed on her children’s right to religious freedom. The tribal council maintains that the cleansing ritual it demonstrated at a school was not a religious act, and that the ban being sought by the mother would significantly hamper efforts to help Indigenous children. The complainant, whose lawyer describes her as an evangelical Christian, reportedly visited the school to express concern about the ceremony after reading a note about it, only to be surprised that it had already occurred and that her children had not had an opportunity to opt out. The tribal council maintains that the ban being sought by the woman, however, “would prohibit Indigenous cultural expression in schools, and risk further harming and marginalizing vulnerable Indigenous students.” Globe and Mail (BC)

Indigenous Elders facing increased demands as their work expands into non-Indigenous communities

Indigenous Elders are increasingly being asked to perform tasks beyond what some would consider to be their traditional role within Indigenous communities, reports CBC. As First Nations University of Canada Professor Blair Stonechild states, “Elders are now present within health, education and justice institutions, [and are increasingly] being expected to provide ready solutions for intractable problems.” Given the heightened demand for Elders’ work and the aging population, University of Regina Executive Lead of Indigenization Kallie Wood states that it is important for community members to build up meaningful relationships and trust with Elders. Elders should be called to institutions, argues Wood, because “they’re wanted, not just for a checkbox.” CBC (National)

USask signs MOU with Métis Nation-Saskatchewan to increase Métis presence, representation

The University of Saskatchewan has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) to identify common priorities and explore mutually beneficial opportunities. Specifically, the agreement aims to improve the education status of Métis people, remove barriers to Métis postsecondary education, and close the university achievement gaps between Métis and non-Indigenous populations. “With continued community partnering, such as today’s announcement with the University of Saskatchewan, Métis youth can confidently follow the examples set by individuals like James McKay, Howard Adams and other Métis leaders, thinkers and achievers,” said MN-S President Glen McCallum. USask | Saskatoon StarPhoenix (SK)

Great Plains partners with SaskPower, Nekaneet First Nation to create new educational pathways

Great Plains College has signed a memorandum of understanding with SaskPower and Nekaneet First Nation that aims to expand the college’s educational offerings. The agreement will allow Great Plains to add Class 5 Power Engineering courses to its current Adult Basic Education options. The new pathway program will enable students to complete their grade 12 education while also completing the courses and steam-time requirements needed to write the Class Five Power Engineering exam. “Our Maple Creek Program Centre student body is approximately 90 per cent Indigenous, many from Nekaneet First Nation, so we are proud to provide a pathway for more Indigenous students to complete their Grade 12 while taking their first steps in a power engineering career,” said Great Plains President David Keast. Great Plains (SK)

ACC partners with three First Nations communities to deliver new Child Development Worker program

Assiniboine Community College has partnered with Ebb and Flow, Sandy Bay, and Long Plain First Nations to deliver a newly created Child Development Worker program. The program, which aims to provide individuals with knowledge and skills pertaining to child development, was created in response to First Nations communities’ need for skilled child development workers related to the provision of Jordan's Principle programming, a child-first and needs-based equitable approach for Indigenous children to access government services. “It’s so important, due to the new Jordan’s Principle funding in First Nations, to have a program which provides training for professionals to learn the skills needed to work with children who require additional support,” says Health Director at the Ebb and Flow First Nation Health Authority Lillian Houle. ACC (MB)

CAP calls on career colleges to partner with Indigenous communities

The National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has called on career colleges to partner with Indigenous communities and increase access to training. "I call on everyone [...] here to remember us, the forgotten people who have been left out of our national conversation so far, and invite them into your schools," said National Chief Robert Bertrand, "but also in your workplace, your board of directors and your political coalitions." Bertrand praised members of the National Association of Career Colleges for their flexibility in meeting the needs of the communities they serve, and encouraged them to help Indigenous peoples fill the shortage faced by the business community. Career Colleges Ontario (National)

GDI opens expanded GDI Building

The Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research in Saskatoon has opened a new and expanded GDI Building that will house the Métis Culture and Heritage Department. The reimagined building will also house GDI administrative services, the Gabriel Dumont Institute Press, the Métis museum, an art gallery, the institution’s rare book collection, and new offices for staff. “We are very proud to provide a positive work environment and a community space that is interactive, engaging, and affirms Métis culture and identity,” said President Glen McCallum of the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan (MN-S). GDI | Nationtalk (SK)

N’Swakamok, Rainbow District School Board ink education agreement

Rainbow District School Board and N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the N’Swakamok Native Alternative School. The agreement will help strengthen educational opportunities for Indigenous students within the city. Specifically, the document includes details to ensure support services are in place for Indigenous students; ensure equal access to all available pathways in completing secondary school diplomas, and connect students to post-secondary education opportunities, apprenticeships, and/or the workplace. | Rainbow Schools (ON)

Wallaceburg High School introduces new program in traditional Indigenous teachings

A new program at Wallaceburg High School called Standing Bear is bringing traditional Indigenous teachings to students in an effort to teach culture and history. Ojibwe/Native Studies teacher Zhahwun Shognosh said that the program’s ultimate goal is to help students learn about who they are and live up to their full potential. Many of the Wallaceburg students are from Walpole Island First Nation, and Shognosh said a growing number of students are expressing interest in wanting to partake in the course. "It's very important to me because ... a lot of the high schools don't really teach that kind of stuff," said Indigenous student Zander Williams. "I like to see other people trying to learn or at least get a little bit of knowledge of how our ancestors lived." CBC (ON)