Indigenous Top Ten

January 29, 2020

SK finds Following Their Voices initiative improves grad rates, credit attainment

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that the Following Their Voices initiative was successful in improving First Nations, Métis, and Inuit student credit attainment and graduation rates. Over the past five years, the initiative has seen a 20% increase in credit attainment and an 11.8% in-crease in three-year graduation rates. “I feel that I can best explain how the cultural responsiveness has changed with the implementation of Following Their Voices into the Canoe Lake Miksiw School,” said Canoe Lake Miksiw School Principal Arliss Coulineur. “By using nehiyawewin-Cree language terminology, the spirit of our language, you can gain a sense of the relationship that is gained between the student and teacher. First word is tipeyimisowin: it means 'take charge of it'. […] Second word is kakehtawisowin: this refers to being like a wise old person. […] Moving forward, this program has enabled the relationships between the students and our educators to begin, generate, and flourish. Following Their Voices will always be a part of the culture of the Canoe Lake Miksiw School.” SK (SK)

Nuxalk College undertakes language digitization project

Nuxalk College has undertaken a new language digitization project that will focus on transcribing recordings of Nuxalk speakers from over 50 years ago. The project has received a grant from First Peoples Cultural Council to hire and train local people to undertake the digitization and transcription process, which is expected to take several months. Cultural Advisor Nuq’aytsulhaqws (Marlene King) stated that the tapes, recorded in 1967-68, are “immaculate” in quality. “The tapes are of several el-ders, including Xawi (Dan Nelson Sr), Axtsikayc (Agnes Edgar), Stalywa (Felicity Walkus) and others,” said Dale McCreery, a linguist who has worked with the Nuxalk Nation for several years. “Many of them are with Charles Snow, who was the primary elder to work with them over the years and often went down to Vancouver to spend time doing recordings with the pair.”  BC Local News (BC)

Cambrian to launch pathway program for Indigenous students

Cambrian College has announced a program that will provide Indigenous students with a culturally rel-evant pathway to college education. Beginning in September, the one-year General Arts and Science-Indigenous Specialization certificate program will combine Indigenous programming with core academ-ic courses in English and math. Program graduates will earn transfer credits they can put toward fur-ther education at Cambrian or other postsecondary institutions. “This program is a collaborative re-sponse to the voices of our Indigenous communities, faculty and students who want accessible, cul-turally relevant programs for Indigenous students,” states Cambrian Chair of General Studies Bradie Granger. “What makes this program unique is that students will focus on developing a personal under-standing of their own Indigenous heritage, culture and language as well as develop a sense of commu-nity within the college.” Cambrian (ON)

BC introduces skills training programs for Indigenous communities

The Government of British Columbia has announced an investment of $7.5M to support six two-year training programs to serve over 475 people for Indigenous communities. The programming will be supported by the Industry Training Authority and will address community priorities and opportunities with a variety of courses. The programs will include Kitselas First Nation’s Kitselas Community-Led Ap-prenticeship Development. “For years, Indigenous leaders have been calling for skills training oppor-tunities closer to home to support their community’s needs and self-determination,” said Melanie Mark, BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “These new programs will create path-ways for Indigenous workers to take advantage of the tens of thousands of in-demand jobs forecast-ed in the trades over the next decade.” BC (BC)

KTCEA launches Cree language learning app

The Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority, which oversees six schools in five northern Alberta First Nations, has produced the free app KTCEA Elders Speak. The land-based language learning app documents Cree as it is spoken in the region northwest of Grand Prairie. It includes 900 Cree words and phrases across 50 categories that were recorded by elders from the five First Nations. The words span beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels; and dialectical differences between Nations are captured in the app. “We chose an app to preserve the language so we could hear our elders speak for many years to come," said Audrey Anderson, KTCEA Land-based Curriculum Co-ordinator. "I'm so proud of the teaching tool that came to be through their direction and their vision of what our students should be learning in our education authority.” Edmonton Journal | CBC (AB)

Confederation launches Diversity, Equity, and Indigenous anti-racism tool

Confederation College has launched a Diversity, Equity, and Indigenous Lens tool to ensure the schools' policies, programs, and practices are inclusive of Indigenous peoples. Also described as an anti-racism assessment tool, the document provides a series of questions that should be applied before, during, and after actions taken by a department or other area of the College. Questions centre around the policy, program or practice’s content, perspectives, and principles, and are aimed at determining whether there is more work to be done to achieve equity and decolinization. “This is an important next step in our journey towards decolonization at the College and we hope our efforts will serve as motivation and inspiration to the many other organizations who walk on this journey with us,” said Confederation President Kathleen Lynch. Confederation | CBC (ON)

Douglas unveils coat of arms created by an Indigenous artist

Douglas College has unveiled the school's first coat of arms featuring artwork by an Indigenous artist. “A coat of arms represents a shared sense of history and tradition,” said Douglas President Kathy Denton. “But whose history and whose tradition?" Local Salish artist, Carrielynn Victor produced the artwork from concepts and designs outlines by the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The coat of arms fea-tured a shield with a crowned heart that is supported by two lions, with a raven on top of the shield and two Douglas fir boughs, and a globe beneath. The bottom of the image reads E’yo’l, Te’lmel, Te’mex, or Excellence, Knowledge, Passion in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓. “By recognizing Coast Salish culture and artists in their official coat of arms, Douglas College is leading by example as we strive to build more inclusive campuses for students, faculty, and staff throughout B.C,” said BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark. Douglas (BC)

Acadia, Glooscap FN sign MOU to support campus Indigenization efforts

Acadia University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Glooscap First Nation to support Indigenization efforts on campus. “I am proud of the forward-thinking my ancestors had when signing the Treaties and we are continuing and interpreting that practice in our own way through this MOU,” said Glooscap First Nation Chief Sidney Peters. The agreement will support campus initiatives important to Mi'kmaq students and their culture, as well as establish a fulltime coordinator of Indigenous Affairs. “It’s not to say that this is the first time there have been Indigenous students at Acadia, but this is the first time that we’ve had the capacity to share our culture in this way,” said President of the Indigenous Students Society of Acadia Mackenzie O’Quinn. Acadia | NationTalk (ON)

NV, NTI renewed agreement includes plan to make Inuktut primary language of instruction in schools

The Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc have renewed a two-decade-old agreement that signals a shared commitment to work together to implement the Nunavut Agreement. The renewed protocol shapes work around three areas: identifying broad principles and priorities that will contribute to productive working relationships; making practical commitments to leadership, oversight and administration; and working toward the full implementation of Article 32, which states that Inuit must participate in the development of government social and cultural policies. As part of the agreement, the two parties will be working to make Inuktut the primary language of instruction in Nunavut schools, as well as in government offices and services. “We recognize there will be times where we don’t agree on things,” said NTI President Aluki Kotierk, “but we are still open to having those discussions and trying to get to a point where we have an agreement on what the best approach would be.” Nunatsiaq Online (NV)

Indigenous authors praise OCSB’s inclusive reading lists

The Ottawa Catholic School Board has announced that it is revitalizing its Grade 11 English curriculum by trading out its old reading list for one containing literature by Indigenous authors such as Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Tanya Talaga, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Richard Wagamese. “English teachers will still be teaching English,” Superintendent Debbie Frendo said. “It’s just that it will be through an Indigenous lens.” The new English class, “English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices,” has been launched in five schools and will be implemented more broadly across the school board over the next two years. “It’s a great sign when school boards are willing to take the initiative to include a wider array of voices,” said author Waubgeshig Rice. “It wasn’t like that at all when I was in high school; I was exposed to Indigenous literature outside of the classroom.” The Ottawa Citizen notes that a similar change is underway at other boards across the province as they try to increase the diversity of literature being studied and implement recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Ottawa Citizen | Vice (ON)