Indigenous Top Ten

February 26, 2020

Canada fails to meaningfully engage Indigenous knowledge in addressing environmental issues

Two researchers from the University of Victoria have published a paper arguing that the federal government is failing to meaningfully engage with Indigenous knowledge in environmental decision-making. In the paper, the authors Lauren Eckert and Nick XEMŦOLTW̱ Claxton identify six categories of obstacles that prevent equitable engagement with Indigenous knowledge. Their key recommendations for improving how the government treats Indigenous knowledge include introducing environmental assessment processes, co-creating research and monitoring programs, and ensuring that Canada’s legislative and federal structures recognize Indigenous-led environmental assessments. “Continued implementation of Indigenous-led EA [environment assessment] and recognition of the validity of these processes by Canada’s federal government provides an opportunity to improve government-to-government relationships, promote environmental decisions that respond to local social and ecological heterogeneity, and overcome fundamental and superficial barriers in relating IK [Indigenous knowledge] and Canadian,” concludes the report.   NationTalk  | FACETS  (Canada)

Rise Up gathering gives high school students opportunity to learn history, culture, issues

A two-day gathering at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg gave high school students an opportunity to learn more about Indigenous cultures and the importance of role models. 225 students from the Seven Oaks School Division took part in the gathering and learned about identity, belonging, and purpose. "I think it's really inspiring knowing that we have our own ways of learning and learning about culture," said Grade 10 student Sophia Bird, who is Ojibway from Black River First Nation. "Throughout history we kind of lost our language. I feel like it should be an honour to learn our language, like Ojibway and Cree." Event organizer Sherry Denysuik, the Indigenous education lead for the Seven Oaks School Division, said that the event is “about bringing youth together and empowering them.”   CBC  (MB)

SFU, Langara sign agreement to support pathways for Indigenous students

Simon Fraser University and Langara College have signed a new agreement to allow Indigenous students to easily transfer from Langara to SFU to complete degree programs. The SFU-Langara Indigenous Transfer Pathway agreement includes a number of commitments with the focus of supporting Indigenous learners, including SFU’s commitment to providing up to five Aboriginal Student Entrance Awards and Langara’s commitment to provide information on entrance awards and facilitate recruitment at the college. “This partnership will create better opportunities for Indigenous students and allow our institutions to work in partnership with the Indigenous community to meet their educational goals,” said Langara Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Students Ben Cecil. “It demonstrates the need to share resources and rethink ways to facilitate greater numbers of Indigenous students attending our schools.” SFU also recently signed a Research Affiliation Agreement with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) to help increase Indigenous self-determination for health research. The agreement will give FNHA research affiliate status with SFU and appoint SFU as a financial supporter of FNHA's publicly funded research. SFU  | SFU (2) (BC)

Student told to speak Atikamekw language in QC high school

Jessica Chachai and her mother Virginia Weizineau have expressed surprise and outrage at a teacher’s demand for the young girl to stop speaking her first language, Atikamekw, when conversing with a friend during art class. The director of the Lac-Saint-Jean Native Friendship Centre, Mélanie Boivin, said she has also had "seven or eight" kids come to her over the past three years with comparable stories. La Cité étudiante high school Principal Sylvan Bouchard told CBC that the school does not have a ban on the speaking of Atikamekw or Innu. However, Bouchard stated that the teachers may ask students to speak French in an educational setting in order to help meet the school’s mandate of providing a French-language education. Mary Coon, a residential school survivor, told CVC that, “the incident at La Cité high school should serve as an opportunity to speak up and make sure children have a place that is ‘culturally safe.’”  CBC  (QC)

ON announces funding for skilled trades training for Indigenous people  

The Government of Ontario has announced $2M in funding for programs for Indigenous people in careers in the skilled trades. Anishinabek Employment and Training Services has received funds for pre-apprenticeship training for both carpentry and drywall, acoustics, and lathing training; as well as job readiness training and wage subsidies for work placements. Supercom Industries, a partnership between six Lake Superior First nations, has received funding over three years for a partnership that is training community members to build the East-West Tie Transmission Line and energy projects. “Without the funding, we would not be able to provide the tuition, the wrap-around supports that help that individual from a First Nation community come to Thunder Bay for that training with the carpentry union,” said AETS executive director John DeGiacomo. “The wage subsidy is like an extended interview time that employers will have to see if our client is the right fit for them.”  CBC  | ON  (ON)

UCN launches adult high school programming in learning centres

The University College of the North has received approval from the Province of Manitoba to operate adult learning centre sites in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (Pukatawagen) and Tataskweyak Cree Nation (Split Lake). Through these sites, participants will be able to complete a Mature Student High School Diploma designed for adult learners, take individual high school credits, and strengthen prior learning. “My future goal is to continue my education so that I can become a good teacher like my instructor Lisa Flett,” said Sylver Spence, who is enrolled in the program at Tataskweyak, “I want to be a role model for my children and to make my family and friends proud.”  UCN  (MB)

MAGPIE program makes classroom feel like home for Saskatoon students

The Saskatoon Public School Division’s new MAGPIE program, which stands for Manifest Academic Growth and Promote Indigenous Excellence, gives 30 students from the SPSD high school an opportunity to practice culture for credit. The program sees students attend their schools in the morning, before attending Nutana Collegiate in the afternoon to learn about language, culture, and performance. “At first I didn’t know that the program was going to be what it is now: An environment that’s already made for us,” said Bedford Collegiate student Tianna McCabe. “I feel comfort. It’s like being home. You know you’re meant to be here because everyone looks like you, everyone kind of has the same views as you, everyone has been through the same things you have been.” Teacher TJ Warren explained that being able to learn in the affirming space means that students leave the classroom more confident. “A program like this gives opportunity back to our people, to reclaim who they are, through their cultural practices and their world views,” said Warren. “We’re trying to create opportunities for them to create those foundations, those resurgent moments. The Star Phoenix (SK)

Holland College pilots Aboriginal Coaching Certification program

Holland College is piloting an Aboriginal Coaching Certification program focused on improving the application of Indigenous culture in sport. The certification is facilitated by Richard Lush on behalf of the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island. Lush said that he did not receive much education on Indigenous issues until Grade 12, and is excited to be expanding Indigenous education on PEI through the new program. The certificate offering will include three modules: A Holistic Approach to Coaching, Dealing with Racism in Sport, and Individual and Community Wellness. Lush told CBC that the certification is for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous coaches so they can provide relevant learning experiences when coaching Indigenous athletes. "It's kind of history in the making for PEI in particular because the Aboriginal coaching module, in my understanding, hasn't been involved in the post-secondary education system," said Lush.  CBC  (PEI)

SD23 signs Action for Truth and Reconciliation Agreement

The Central Okanagan School District signed the Action for Truth and Reconciliation Agreement at the Sensisyusten House of Learning on Westbank First Nation land. The five-year agreement was developed with the help of the Westbank First Nation, Okanagan Indian Band, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, local Indigenous community partners, and the Ministry of Education. It sets out measurable strategies for truth and reconciliation that are in accordance with provincial mandates. “This agreement helps us realize a shared vision of how we will support our Indigenous learners," said SD23 Board of Education Chairperson Moyra Baxter. “As educators, we must learn from the past together and work together now to make sure that each student has opportunities for a bright future.” Castanet (BC)

Cardston students build healing garden to remember Baker Massacre victims

Students from Cardston High School are raising funds to build a healing garden with a monument that will serve as a memorial for those lost in the 1870 Baker Massacre. The students recently learned about the massacre, during which 217 Blackfoot people were killed by the US Army. “It started with a project I was doing with eight to 10 Blackfoot students and we read an article about the Baker Massacre that happened just south of the border (in 1870)," said Cardston teacher Kara Baldwin. "Some of the descendants are from Cardston and actually attend Cardston High School and most of them had never heard about it.” The Town of Cardston is helping to raise funds for the monument. “This is a great opportunity to teach some of the history of our First Nation community,” said Cardston town manager Jeff Shaw, “and ultimately anything that leads to greater understating and supports truth and reconciliation is a worthwhile cause.” CTV News (AB)