Indigenous Top Ten

December 11, 2019

YK passes bill to transform Yukon College into Canada’s first northern university

The Yukon Legislature has passed a bill to make Yukon College Canada’s first Arctic university. Once Yukon College has transitioned to Yukon University, it will become the first institution in the territories to grant a degree under its own name. Research at the new school will focus on northern issues, such as environmental conservation and sustainable resource development, with additional emphasis on Indigenous content. The Globe and Mail explains that science programs will have traditional knowledge embedded in them; anthropology classes will teach creation stories alongside archeological evidence; and all students will be required to have a foundational understanding of Yukon First Nations to graduate. “Our vision is to be the first northern university that focuses on Indigenous governance, that focuses on sustainable natural resources, that focuses on northern climate, and everything that flows from that,” said Chairman of the Yukon College Board of Governors Tom Ullyett. Globe and Mail | CTV (YK)

BC sees Indigenous high school graduation rates on the rise

The Vancouver Sun reports that Indigenous graduation rates across the province have risen to 69.4% over the course of the past 5 years. The article points to several reconciliation efforts undertaken by instructors, school boards, and the ministry to connect with local communities, families, and students and improve the experience of Indigenous students. “Even a few years ago, I would see so many kids who had left the school system and it had really let them down. Some of them didn’t even have the literacy skills to get into ABE,” said Earl Einarson, an Indigenous tech educator of Ktunaxa First Nation heritage. “Now, the students I see understand the value of education and they see it as the way to get where they want to go.” The Ministry of Education reports that major improvements to the Indigenous completion rates over the past five years were seen at the Nicola-Similkameen (31.3%), Nisga’a (29.8%), Saanich (24.5%), New Westminster (22.6%), and Haida Gwaii (18.6%) school districts. BC | Vancouver Sun (BC)

Nechi Institute “in crisis mode” after receiving eviction notice from AB

The Nechi Institute says that it is in crisis mode after receiving an eviction notice from the Government of Alberta through Infrastructure Alberta, which states that the Indigenous learning centre must vacate its location in Sturgeon Country by the end of March. “We value the training that the Nechi Institute provides to Indigenous students,” wrote AB Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, “but also recognize that the space currently occupied is urgently needed for the delivery of addiction treatment to Indigenous people.” Nechi Institute CEO Marilyn Buffalo stated that the eviction breaks a long-term agreement between the institute and the province. “We were supposed to be working in partnership and that's not happening today, not by what we just experienced,” stated Buffalo. “We are the education arm of treatment. We empower the First Nations communities by training and certifying their trainers that work in the field of addiction therapy.” CTV News (AB)

Waskaganish returns to classes in community spaces while elementary school remains closed

Over 400 students and teachers from the northern Quebec community of Waskaganish have returned to class, but their school--École Annie Whiskeychan Memorial Elementary--remains closed after a diesel spill in mid-October. During a planned power outage, a faulty generator hose caused a diesel spill that went undetected in the maintenance room at the school. When teachers complained about a smell over a month after the spill was cleaned up, the school was closed and an inspector found diesel in the cracks of the cement floor. Classes are currently being held in several locations around the community, including the gathering place, the arena complex, and the old band office. "There's been a lot of community effort ... from the chief and council, from the parents, students and from the members of our community," said Sarah Diamond, Waskaganish's community education administrator. It is unclear how long the students and teachers will need to be in temporary classrooms. CBC (QC)

STC entrepreneurship program teaches business basics with Indigenous culture

The Saskatoon Tribal Council’s Youth Entrepreneurship Program has given elementary and high school students the opportunity to learn the basics of entrepreneurship and operating a business within an Indigenous context. The program, which now involves seven schools, provides youth with the opportunity to come up with ideas and get started on feasible projects. "They see job opportunities, career opportunities, whether it's business or not," said program coordinator Joe Taylor. "To hear somebody that wants to go into business that's pretty cool. That's what makes me and young people excited about the future." The students created art pieces such as paintings, bags with designs meant to highlight missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and plaques made from cedar planks and old cabinet doors. CBC (SK)

Royal Roads, FNTC deliver online network technician training program

Royal Roads University has launched a new online version of the network technician training program in partnership with the First Nations Technology Council (FNTC). The program will develop a community-centered approach to network technician training with an Indigenized curriculum and augmented and virtual reality environments. “I’m proud to see RRU working in partnership with the First Nations Technology Council. It’s so important that we support Indigenous communities to take part in the dynamic tech sector,” says BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training Melanie Mark. “This partnership is an example of reconciliation in action.” Royal Roads states that the program will provide Indigenous students with industry-recognized skills for a sector where nearly 1,500 job openings have been projected to go unfilled between 2016 and 2021. Royal Roads (BC)

Fort William, Thunder Bay pilot program sees satellite kindergarten class

A pilot project between Fort William First Nation and the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board is trying to reach Indigenous kindergarten pupils where they live, both physically and culturally, and improve Indigenous graduation rates. Students can attend kindergarten in a satellite classroom in the First Nation, with a curriculum that includes Indigenous language and culture. According to Phillip Pelletier, an Indigenous school trustee for TBCDSB, explained that the program gives youth a chance to take pride and have confidence in their culture before moving to the Thunder Bay-based site of St Ann School for Grade 1 onwards. “I think this school helps them [the children] in just having a sense of pride in themselves,” says classroom lead Kimberly John, who is a member of the Red Rock Indian Band in Northwestern Ontario. “It’s part of their identity, and our culture is part of the program.” Having the satellite classroom has also meant that families and parents have an easier time participating in activities. Globe and Mail (ON)

URegina renames student centre ta-tawâw to reflect commitment to openness, inclusivity

The University of Regina has renamed the school’s Aboriginal Student Centre as ta-tawâw, which means "Welcome. There is room. There is space." in the Cree language. URegina states that the name-change was inspired by the federal government’s decision to change the department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canadian to the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in 2015, a decision made based upon the input of Indigenous peoples. “The ASC asked that people submit a name that they felt best described the ASC; a name they felt would respect the beautiful diversity of our cultures, knowledges, traditions, and languages,” said Misty Longman, Manager of the Centre. “A name that would acknowledge the space as a place where everyone belongs.” The program and services offered by the centre include cultural and traditional awareness, the Neekaneewak Leadership Initiative, and luncheon sessions. URegina (SK)

Carleton, TVO’s Ontario Hubs launch new TVO Indigenous hub

Carleton University has partnered with TVO’s Ontario Hubs to launch the new TVO Indigenous Hub at Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication. Indigenous Hub is part of a network of regional TVO studios and journalists in partnership with post-secondary institutions across Ontario. The program aims to provide in-depth, on-the-ground coverage of Indigenous issues and perspectives across ON. The hub will operate out of Carleton’s Southham Hall and will feature TVO journalist in residence Shelby Lisk. Carleton (ON)

UOttawa receives anonymous $1M donation to support Faculty of Law Indigenous students

The University of Ottawa has received $1M from an anonymous donor to support Indigenous learners in the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section) through access to scholarships, bursaries, and emergency funding. UOttawa reports that while the funds will be used in a variety of ways, most of the funding will be devoted to creating three-year entrance scholarships for Indigenous students, and some funds will be reserved for bursaries for upper-year Indigenous learners. “It is very encouraging in the sense that when potential new students will be made aware of this support it will encourage First Nations people to apply to the Law School,” said UOttawa Law School’s Elder in Residence Claudette Commanda. “It is my vision to see more First Nations people coming to the U of O.” The Fulcrum (ON)