Indigenous Top Ten

April 22, 2020

MNA, RLI provides Chromebooks for K-12 Métis students for online learning

The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA), Rupertsland Institute (RLI), and the College of Alberta School Superintendents have launched a province-wide initiative to provide Chromebook devices to help K-12 Métis students participate in virtual classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the MNA, the initiative will provide 1,200 devices to students self-identified with their school as Métis, Métis citizens who are registered (or applying) with the Métis Nation of Alberta, and those whose household includes K-12 Métis students in need of help to keep up with virtual studies. “This initiative supplements efforts by Alberta Education to put devices in the hands of Alberta’s K to 12 students to cope with classroom closures,” reads a RLI statement. “Some school districts, particularly in urban settings, are able to lend the laptop devices to many of Alberta’s K to 12 students who need help.” Métis students with limited access to remote-based learning will be contacted by schools to make arrangements to receive the devices. RLI (AB)

CIHR funds six Indigenous Research Chair in Nursing positions across Canada

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and Thompson Rivers University have each been awarded an Indigenous Research Chair in Nursing. USask’s Holly Graham has received $1.05M in funding to build capacity in Indigenous nursing and improve the health of Indigenous people. “Our goal is for all graduates from our program to have an understanding both of the traditional Western perspective of health and wellness, and of Indigenous worldviews,” said Graham. TRU’s Lisa Bourque Bearskin has received over $1.52M in funding to advance Indigenous health through enacting and supporting policies that informed by the experiences of Indigenous peoples and to empower nurses to advocate for access to traditional wellness practices. “Now we have a formalized platform to empower not just Indigenous nurses, but all nurses, to carefully rethink our role within health care,” said Bearskin. USask | TRU (SK, BC)

CBA launches online cultural competency training program for lawyers

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has announced the launch of The Path – Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada, a program that provides cultural competency training to lawyers. The program provides education on the legacy of the Indian Residential School System and other key historical events that defined the relationships of Indigenous communities and European settlers, the British Crown, and Canada. In addition, the program aims to combat racism and bias against Indigenous peoples, assist lawyers in appreciating the significance of Indigenous cultural traditions and values, and encourage the building of better relationships with Indigenous communities. The program was developed by NVision Insight Group, a majority-owned Indigenous consulting company, and features five online modules which can be accessed in either English or French. The CBA is extending 500 free registrations to those who sign up. Canadian Lawyer (National)

Cree School Board launches online platform, mentorship program for students amid pandemic

The Cree School Board in Northern Québec has launched an online platform that will provide students with lessons in English, French, and East Cree amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "We didn't know what would come from the [Quebec Ministère de l'Éducation],” said director of school operations for the Cree School Board Kim Quinn, “but we knew it wouldn't suit us because we teach Cree language all the way from pre-K to secondary 5 [Grade 11]." The CSB Online Learning Platform offers books, games, puzzles, songs, videos, and projects in many different subjects for students from Grade 1 to 11. The platform draws on resources prepared by the Quebec Ministry of Education, as well as the CSB's own curriculum and other educational resources. Over 500 Cree students in Grades 10 and 11 have additionally been paired up with a mentor who will support their at-home or at-camp learning during the shutdown. The board has also launched a separate platform for Grade 11 students to work more intensively and make sure they have the credits necessary to graduate. CBC (QC)

School staff keep Iqaluit school breakfast program running during pandemic

A group of school staff in Iqaluit are ensuring that a program that provides breakfast to school children continues despite the pandemic. The program, which is funded by community donations and the Nunavut land-claims organization, provides participants with breakfast-in-a-bag — a simple meal of cereal, milk, cheese, yogurt and a piece of fruit in a paper bag to minimize the need for contact. "Some kids really rely on it," Joamie Ilinniarvik School student support worker Jason Rochon. "Every day, it's getting bigger and bigger." Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the territory yet, workers at the program are still careful, wearing gloves, lining participants up at two metres apart, and only allowing one member from each family to attend. Infonews (NV)

USask, McGill, UWinnipeg, UVic receive funding from NEIHR

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, McGill University, the University of Winnipeg, and the University of Victoria have received funding from CIHR’s Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) to increase health research support to Indigenous organizations. USask, the national coordinating center for the network, received $5M to advance national and international Indigenous health research partnerships, establish an annual international Indigenous health research conference, and help evaluate the effectiveness of the new research network. Meanwhile, researchers at McGill, UWinnipeg, and UVic received $3.5M each for their local research focusing on diabetes research in Indigenous communities, prioritizing Indigenous-led health research, and supporting Indigenous communities in the translating their health priorities in the context of research respectively. “These networks will help improve the health of Indigenous peoples by removing the barriers communities face in conducting their own health research, and by matching community needs with researcher interests and expertise,” said USask Professor Caroline Tait. USask | McGill | UWinnipeg | UVic(National)

Brock Aboriginal Student Services provides connection, calming options for students

Brock University’s Aboriginal Student Services office is finding new ways to support students amid the COVID-19 pandemic by using social media, deploying interactive craft exercises, and visiting with students online. Aboriginal Events Co-ordinator Cindy Biancaniello has been distributing sanitized craft kits that focus on different areas of Indigenous art and design, for example, in order to maintain connections with students. “We’ve found that the arts exercises we ran while people were on campus were very calming for our students,” said Biancaniello. “We hope these at-home crafts and online sessions can continue to help reduce stress and let us share our stories together while we are temporarily apart.” With the length of social distancing measures still unknown, students will also have access to virtual meetings with Elders from several communities through video calls thanks to the program Indigenous Engagement guided by Brock’s Vice-Provost Amos Key Jr. Brock (ON)

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq launches Inuit-centered virtual education portal

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq has launched the Nunavik Inuit-centered Education resource portal, a website dedicated to providing educational resources in Inuktitut, English, and French for parents, children, and teachers. Nunavik-IcE portal features lessons and other local resources collected and developed by the Education Services department in collaboration with teachers, elders, and knowledge holders in order to help children and youth consolidate the knowledge and skills they have acquired at home and at school. “The primary goal of this portal is to support Nunavik educators with a library of resources linked to our curriculum,” said Director of Education Services at Kativik Ilisarniliriniq Etua Snowball. “I am really glad we were able to turn around as a team and mobilize the right resources quickly in order to provide parents with great resources that are rooted in our environment, Inuit kinship values and communities.” NationTalk (QC)

USudbury creates bursaries for Indigenous students experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic

The University of Sudbury is offering emergency fund bursaries to Indigenous students who are experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 crisis. Five Continued Spirit of Indigenous Studies Legacy Bursaries will be made immediately available to students thanks to funds raised during the Anishinaabe Maanjidowin: The Continued Spirit of Indigenous Studies event. “With the finances of the event relying on community donations, it was decided any surplus funds would go back to Indigenous people/communities in the form of bursaries for Indigenous students and in the form of a donation to Akinoomoshin, a local Anishinaabe land-based immersion school that does not have a capital funding base,” explains a USudbury release. “We wished to assist them with their endeavors in educating Anishinaabe children, particularly within the context of Anishinaabemowin or the Ojibway language.” USudbury | NationTalk (ON)

SD48 releases education plan, reaches out to Indigenous students to ensure connections

The Sea to Sky School District (SD48) has released its education plan for ensuring that students have their needs met and that staff and students are in a healthy environment. The district has stepped up custodial services at all schools, opened their schools to children of essential workers with no other options for their kids, helped educational assistants and teachers figure out how to deliver materials and instruction, and provide a continuity of educational opportunities. The district has reached out to every Indigenous student, including those who are in remote communities where online connections were an issue. "We proceeded to support our ISW [Indigenous support workers] with six tasks that they can do during the day—a weekly report, like a book or a schedule, so they had meaningful work to do, not only [to] check in with their community, [but also to] check in with their principal, check in with their nation, to update contact information to work on something creative that they could share with their students and families through Google Hangout or Google Classroom, and make sure they're sending one communication to every school for teachers to pick up and send out to students in the school," said Susan Leslie, district principal of Aboriginal Education. Pique News Magazine (BC)