Indigenous Top Ten

March 11, 2020

Algonquin launches DARE6 initiative to promote Truth, Reconciliation

Algonquin College has launched a corporate partnership initiative with PCL Constructors Canada Inc to help further the College’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. The DARE6 concept is based on an Indigenous governance model derived from the Iroquois, or Haudenosaunee, Confederacy. Algonquin Vice President of Truth, Reconciliation & Indigenization Ron (Deganadus) McLester described how Algonquin drew on the history of the Iroquois Confederacy in wanting to establish special partnerships between the College and half-a-dozen corporate stakeholders – hence, the DARE6 name. At the kick-off ceremony, PCL committed to donating $216K to reconciliation efforts over the next six years. “Today is a celebration of a long-standing relationship that PCL and Algonquin College have already built together,” said Algonquin President Claude Brulé. Brulé described DARE6 as “a unique opportunity to build on a partnership that will create new paths to engagement.” Algonquin (ON)

NS launches Treaty Education curriculum

The Government of Nova Scotia has officially launched the Treaty Education curriculum to help teach positive aspects of Mi’kmaw culture and history. The curriculum is currently being taught in K-2 classes in Cape Breton and will roll out across the rest of the province this fall. Jane Meader, Mi'kmaw educator, said that the new curriculum goes beyond talking about old historical documents. “It's about our way of life and it's about teaching the non-Aboriginal public who we are — who we are today and who we were in the past,” explained Meader. To teach these lessons, the curriculum calls for the use of four cartoon animal puppets and seven books that celebrate Mi'kmaw stories and traditions. “I like the stories," said Meader, "because I can relate to those and a lot of the Mi'kmaw children can relate to those, and it's not something that a lot of non-Aboriginal children would have experienced."” CBC (NS launches Treaty Education curriculum )

ON increases funding for Indigenous Institutes by $1.8M

The Government of Ontario has announced increased funding to Indigenous Institutes by $1.8M to help them provide education that responds to community and local labour market needs. "Indigenous Institutes are a critical part of our public education system because they provide a culturally holistic learning environment that prepares learners for success in the workforce," said ON Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano. "By increasing support to Indigenous Institutes, we will help hundreds of Indigenous learners access the education and training they need to get good jobs and make Ontario open for business." ON also noted that it will be directing a greater proportion of the increased funding to Indigenous Institutes in northern communities to help them address the additional challenges and costs of travel, heating, and snow removal. ON (ON)

Report reveals racism experienced by Indigenous students at UWinnipeg

The University of Winnipeg's Chair of Indigenous Studies Jacqueline Romanow has released a report detailing the racism and discrimination that Indigenous students have experienced on campus. A key finding of the report was that Indigenous students at UWinnipeg are facing more racism, more often, than even some of the more-commonly studied racialized populations in North America. "The data collected suggests that both the frequency and unpredictability of these racist experiences are extremely stressful for Indigenous students and have a concrete negative impact on their lives," explains Romanow in the report. She concludes that, "given the depth and breadth of the problem, it is likely that much more work will need to be done to address what is clearly a significant problem, not only at the University of Winnipeg, but across the city and the nation." Brandon Sun | Policy Alternatives (MB)

Estevan Comprehensive School celebrates reconciliation garden

The Estevan Comprehensive School celebrated the grand reveal of its reconciliation garden, named Ahopa Intchagink’ta – respect growing in the Nakota language – earlier this month. The permanent garden area features murals, displays, plants native to this area, and other tributes designed to promote reconciliation. QR codes located around the garden allow people to watch associated videos and photos, read about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and learn about the history of Canada’s residential schools. The grand reveal celebration saw members of the Ocean Man First Nation playing drums, singing, and performing dances, as well as a smudging ceremony conducted by Elder Peter Bigstone. “We have a First Nations, Indigenous and Métis consultant with the school division, and basically we worked together,” said Teacher Josh LeBlanc. “So Peter came in, talked to the kids, shared his story, shared his knowledge with the kids and from that knowledge we developed the project.” Estevan Mercury (SK)

Sept-Îles to host pilot project for Indigenous student community living

The Cégep de Sept-Îles and the Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec (RCAAQ) have announced a community living environment pilot project for Indigenous students that will be held on Sept-Îles’ campus. The project aims to provide more living and educational resources to Indigenous students, 75% of whom are women in their late twenties with children and are looking for a community environment that is safe and quiet, and that fosters mutual aid, sharing, and support. "This promising and innovative project is being carried out thanks to collaboration between Indigenous partners, the school system and universities, and municipal and government actors," said QC Minister of Education and Higher Education Jean-François Roberge. "I firmly believe that it will support the development of the full potential of adult and Indigenous students and that all educational establishments in Sept-Îles will reap significant long-term benefits.” Cégep de Sept-Îles | NationTalk (QC)

Indigenous perspectives need to be strengthened in STEM fields

Scholars in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math [say] Indigenous knowledge and perspectives have largely not found their way into Canadian post-secondary courses, writes Lakshmi Magon. While some Canadian postsecondary institutions are trying to incorporate more diverse perspectives into STEM fields, many experts argue that institutions still have a long way to go in terms of accepting the cultural qualifications of Indigenous community leaders and having those voices better represented among academic faculty. “To decolonize the academy, we need faculty to understand that Indigenous science is different to Western sciences through experience,” said John Fischer, Mount Royal University Executive Adviser of Indigenization and member of the Cowessess First Nation. The Star (National)

George Brown launches Indigenous Student Centre

George Brown College has launched an Indigenous Student Centre to provide students with a space to study, socialize, and access support services at the college's Casa Loma Campus. George Brown Counsellor and Professor of Indigenous Education and Services Bob Whiteduck Crawford says the new space will make it easier for him to offer cultural teachings, and he believes students will feel at home. “It’s our hope that the Indigenous Student Centre will grow, mature and become a hub of activity," said George Brown Chair of the Sahkitcheway Indigenous Education Council Frances Sanderson. "It’s anticipated it will become the nucleus of educational opportunities, the heart of Aboriginal educators and students, and a home for partnerships and personal growth.” George Brown (ON)

NS school find Indigenous students suspended at disproportionate rates

Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education Regional Director Gary Adams acknowledged in a recent article from CBC that Indigenous students and African Nova Scotian students are being suspended from a rural Nova Scotian school at higher rates than students of other ethnic or racial backgrounds. Self-identified students of Indigenous and African ancestry made up only 10 per cent of the student population within the regional centre, but represented about 17% of suspensions overall, according to an August 2019 improvement plan. Adams said suspensions "are not always effective," adding that staff "are looking to explore their own bias, explore their own strategies and improve upon that data." Student Miguel Greer told CBC that "not a lot of Native students like to talk about it [high rates of suspension] because it's so hard to get a word out there and to actually have people stand behind you." CBC (NS)

Indigenous parents, caregivers suspicious of an education system too closely linked with child welfare

A recent report has found that Indigenous parents and children are uncomfortable with the close connections between the child welfare system and the education system. Co-authors MacEwan University Professor Emily Milne and University of Saskatchewan Professor Terry Wotherspoon write that while reconciliation efforts focus on the importance of schools as safe, secure, and supportive environments for all children, that mandate is not always being fulfilled. Specifically, Indigenous parents often worry that the cultural activities (pipe ceremonies, sweat ceremonies) that children take part in with their families may not align with teacher perceptions of “good parenting,” and could result in the parents being reported to a social worker without the teacher speaking to the parent or caregiver first. The report makes a number of recommendations, including ensuring that teachers and schools have appropriate knowledge of Indigenous cultures, perspectives and experiences; as well clear guidelines and processes for teachers to follow if they suspect a child is being mistreated. MacEwan (National)