Indigenous Top Ten

May 20, 2020

Iqaluit high school launches practical learning program

While Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit may not be physically open to students for the rest of the school year, a new initiative will allow students to earn credits outside of the classroom. Until mid-June, students will be able to submit activities such as hunting, beadwork, or machine maintenance that they have done outside of the classroom for possible credit as part of a new practical learning program. “We’re recognizing what happens outside of our walls,” said Steve Carter, the teacher leading the program. “Realistically, the opportunities are endless.” The program provides an opportunity for students who may not be as successful in the typical school setting to showcase their abilities. Carter stated that the exact conversion of practical learning hours into credits is a work in progress, but said it would be in the ballpark of 25 hours per credit. Nunatsiaq News (QC)

UManitoba launches midwifery program with emphasis on Indigenous practices

The University of Manitoba’s College of Nursing has announced the launch of a bachelor’s degree program in midwifery that will have traditional Indigenous midwifery practices throughout the curriculum. Beginning September 2021, the three-year program will accept six new students into the program each year. Given the need for Indigenous midwives in northern Manitoba, half of the seats will be designated for Indigenous students. “Currently, in northern and remote Indigenous communities, women often have to travel long distances to give birth,” said UManitoba Professor Kellie Thiessen. “One of the goals of this program is to support families through culturally appropriate midwifery services close to home.” UManitoba (MB)

Indigenous students confused over eligibility for CESB

The Government of Canada announced $9B for the CESB earlier this month, but details on eligibility and whether or not Indigenous students will qualify have reportedly not been made available. Some students that are currently receiving band funding have either not qualified for provincial funding or had difficulties returning funds after withdrawing from their postsecondary institutions. "I think [the federal government is] trying to navigate new grounds," said Sheldon McGregor from Kitigan Zibi, who withdrew from Carleton University due to the pandemic. "I don't think they were necessarily prepared for this. I genuinely think, all in all, they're doing what they can." "I think the students themselves know what to do with that money," said Andrea Deleeuw, who is Métis-Cree from Fort Vermilion, Alberta. “I would like to see it in the form of grants or bursaries directly to students and some going to support organizations as well." CBC (National)

Kiuna launches Indigenous Cinema program

Kiuna College has launched an Indigenous Cinema program in partnership with Wapikoni Mobile, a non-profit organization. Beginning this fall, the two-year pre-university program will provide students with an introduction to the world of cinema, screenwriting, directing, animation, documentary film, and hands-on production skills. The program will primarily focus on works made by and for Indigenous peoples. "The program depends on community,” said Kiuna teacher Paul Grant. “It takes very seriously questions of self-representation and working to correct the history of Indigenous Peoples and cultures in films." CBC (QC)

Northern BC PSE, Mastercard launch new supports, investments to support Indigenous students

Four northern British Columbia postsecondary institutions have partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to enhance supports and invest in technological solutions to improve access to remote education for rural and Indigenous students. Coast Mountain College, the College of New Caledonia, Northern Lights College, and the University of Northern British Columbia are collaborating on the project which will create additional funding for student counselling support, employment opportunities for students, and a connectivity technology project to ensure students are able to access online programming. Indigenous students studying at the four schools will also receive academic mentoring and mental health counselling to help them navigate the barriers and challenges caused by the pandemic. UNBC | My PG Now (BC)

MB First Nations discuss what back-to-school could look like

While schools will likely not reopen prior to the fall, a number of First Nations communities in Manitoba are planning what the future return to the classroom could look like. Communities are considering the use of staggered group learning, moving to larger classrooms, and introducing additional sanitizing equipment. "Ensuring that we have the adequate space for our children is going to be a huge undertaking," said Chief Lance Roulette of Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation. Roulette also stated that the Sandy Bay is considering the use of staggered or flex-time classes, where certain grades may study on certain days to ensure physical distancing. At Peguis First Nation, Chief Glenn Hudson stated that classrooms are marked with tape and will be limited to 15 students at a time. In addition, the community is setting up physically distanced classrooms with computers, iPads, and WiFi technology. CBC (MB)

BC pledges funds to help rural, remote Indigenous communities

The Province of British Columbia has pledged funds from its previously announced $50M Connection British Columbia program to help rural and remote Indigenous communities stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure was announced after students were required to study and work from home, as many who live in remote or Indigenous communities do not have the internet access or connectivity quality required for online learning. The funds will help service providers to upgrade equipment and improve capacity and internet speed in underserved communities. “Responding to the pandemic requires the best from all of us,” said Minister of Citizens’ Services Anne Kang. Our communities need reliable internet access right now, and this new fund will get projects completed quickly.” The Star (BC)

UCN launches Reconciliation, Research and Academic Innovation department

University College of the North has launched the Reconciliation, Research and Academic Innovation (RRAI) department. The department is expected to build a shared understanding of reconciliation, increase the quality of Indigenous-informed pedagogy, and create stronger educational and research ties with UCN’s surrounding Indigenous communities. “UCN has accomplished a great deal in its efforts to Indigenize our institution and the new department is the next step,” said Harvey Briggs, the Associate Vice President of RRAI. “The new department will develop shared understanding and praxis in the vital areas of reconciliation, academic programming and teaching, learning and research at UCN.” UCN (MB)

Yellowhead Institute finds ISC’s COVID-19 case count inaccurate

Yellowhead Institute has released a report stating that COVID-19 cases and deaths are far above the numbers reported by Indigenous Service Canada. The institute, a think-tank based out of Ryerson University’s Faculty of Arts, combed through media reports, band council updates, confidential local reports, and obituaries to find at least 465 cases of COVID-19 across 42 communities and seven deaths. ISC had reported 183 cases and two deaths. "This is just the information available publicly," said research fellow Courtney Skye, who is Mohawk, Turtle Clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. "There are likely more cases." The Yellowhead Institute report stated that “there is no agency or organization in Canada reliably recording and releasing COVID-19 data that indicates whether or not a person is Indigenous.” CBC | Yellowhead (ON)

QC First Nations schools decide to stay closed

While the Province of Quebec has announced plans to reopen elementary schools, many of the First Nations-run schools say they will stay closed for the remainder of the school year. The Cree School Board; the Kativik School Board in Nunavik; and leaders from communities such as Kahnawake, Mashteuiatsh, Uashat mak Mani-utenam, and Listuguj have announced that their schools will remain closed for the duration of the school year. "Reviving Quebec's economy should not come at the expense of our community's health. It puts our children at risk and by extension, our community," the letter signed by Kahnawí:io Dione, Skatsénhati Lazare, and Kanen'tó:kon Hemlock stated. "Our traditional teachings place so much value on our individual responsibility to care for the welfare of the collective. This philosophy has never been so relevant." CBC (QC)