Indigenous Top Ten

June 3, 2020

Canadian institutions issue statements against racism 

Numerous Canadian postsecondary institutions have responded to the racial violence and discrimination that has occurred in the United States, as well as around the world, by issuing statements of solidarity. “The protests this weekend elsewhere in Canada shined a light on racism against Black and Indigenous people and intolerance in our country,” explained Memorial University President Vianne Timmons. “We need to name it and shame it.” Citing higher education’s role in celebrating diversity and mission in fostering inclusivity, several presidents condemned the discrimination and racial violence that has occurred in the United States, in Canada, and around the world. “It is our responsibility, as members of a diverse and vibrant university community, to speak out against racism, to dispel fears and stereotypes, and to condemn discriminatory behaviour,” said UPEI President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. Centennial President Craig Stephenson echoed these statements, stating: “We cannot have our black family members, friends, colleagues, or indeed any member of the black community fearful for their personal well-being and safety.” Some institutions have also listed available resources or created new resources for challenging anti-Black racism in Canada, or have called on their community to help name additional steps the institution can take in support.   UPEI   | MUN  | Centennial   (International)

FNESC, FNSA release resources, considerations for FN schools considering partial, full reopenings 

The First Nations Education Steering Committee and the First Nations Schools Association have released resources and relevant considerations for the partial or reopening of First Nation schools. While the statement acknowledges that many First Nation have understandably decided to maintain the suspension of in-class instruction, the document and resources were compiled to aid schools in protecting the safety and well-being of students, staff, families, and communities. Topics covered in the release include personal protective equipment, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, student transportation, physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfection. “FNESC and FNSA acknowledge the unique challenge the COVID-19 pandemic presents for First Nations and First Nation schools,” concludes the release. “Our intention is not to recommend that First Nation schools reopen at this time.”  NationTalk   | FNESC  (National)

York launches certificate program on environmental leadership for youth  

York University’s Faculty of Education has launched a certificate program that will teach youth who are concerned about the environment the leadership skills they need to champion their cause. Rooted & Rising is a three-month course consisting of 12 sessions conducted on weekends and will teach participants how to make lives and systems more sustainable. The course will begin in the Fall term and will be grounded Indigenous knowledges and practices. “We wanted to bring in Indigenous points of view and blend them into the course in ethical ways,” said York PhD student and course steering committee member Doug Anderson. “These young people are individuals we need to support and nurture. It should help us in turn to restore relationships with the land as Indigenous people.”  York  (ON)

On-the-land educators see opportunity in COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools across the country has created a new opportunity for on-the-land education. CBC reports that Indigenous leaders and outdoor education advocates across the North encouraged parents to take to the land to prevent the spread of the illness and encourage informal learning. "When I see young Inuit boys going out hunting, and I see photos of them looking so proud harvesting animals from our land, and I know that that takes a new skill set," said Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated president Aluki Kotierk. "All those experiences out on the land increase their Inuktitut vocabulary and terminology…. It enriches their knowledge base, and I would say that it also enriches their cultural identity." Leaders noted that the difficulty will be in having this education recognized in the formal education system. "Learning objectives and outcomes … are very transferrable to on-the-land activities if the teachers and administrators have somebody who can … see both ways actually write that curriculum," said Actua InSTEM director Doug Dokis. "The biggest challenge … is working across systems."  CBC  (National)

Skidegate Early Childhood Development Center uses Facebook to keep in touch with students 

Childcare providers are finding creative ways to provide comfort and care for the children who can no longer attend childcare centres in person. At Skidegate Early Childhood Development Center, located in Skidegate First Nation on Haida Gwaii, manager Susan Ellis has organized food parcels and other care packages to the families of the students in the centre’s Aboriginal Head Start Program. Ellis is also working to stay in touch with students via Facebook. “Children may seem fine, but they’re trying to figure these things out, explains Ellis. “I wanted the children to be able to see and hear us and feel supported, so I asked our staff to each pick a day and post three things on our Facebook page.” Activities posted on the centre’s page include reading stories, singing, and isolation activities.   NationTalk  (BC)

CIBC donates $150K to NOSM to promote Indigenous learner leadership and mentorship 

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) has partnered with CIBC to launch a new initiative that will promote and recognize Indigenous learner leadership and mentorship through an awards program. The awards include a Indigenous Learner Leadership and Mentorship Award, which is given to an Indigenous NOSM learner in the final year of the MD program who plans to return to a Northern community for their practice; a Leadership Award for two Indigenous learners who have demonstrated leadership qualities; and Mentorship awards to NOSM learners, past recipients, and practicing Indigenous physicians that support building a network and participate in professional development opportunities. “The School is honoured by CIBC’s commitment to Indigenous health in Northern Ontario with the aim to improve best practice and our emerging leaders,” says Joseph LeBlanc, NOSM’s Director, Indigenous Affairs. “It’s our belief that supporting a network of Indigenous physician leaders practicing in the North will help to encourage, attract and retain more Indigenous medical school applicants to, and graduates of, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.”  NOSM  (ON)

Alaqsite’w Gitpu breaks ground on $8.5M expansion  

The Alaqsite’w Gitpu School in the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation has broken ground on a new school expansion. The expansion will include the creation of a cafetorium, a music room, and a room for ceremony, as well as an expanded gymnasium. The $8.5M expansion is funded by Indigenous Services Canada and expected to be completed by summer 2021. To celebrate the groundbreaking, the event was streamed over Facebook Live. During the ceremony, AGS Principal Jeff Grass spoke optimistically about the changes that will accompany the expansion. “The expansion does not reflect reconciliation in education, but rather equity in education,” explained Grass, “because this project simply brings to AGS the resources that other schools have always had.” NationTalk   (QC)

UNB, Memorial introduce new terminology, rename programs and units 

Two postsecondary institutions have recently announced changes to terminology and names at their campus. At Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Vice-Presidents Council has approved the official change in terminology from Aboriginal to Indigenous. The change was guided by input from the Nunatsiavut Government, the Innu Nation, the NunatuKavut Community Council, the Miawpukek First Nation, and the Qalipu First Nation. The change has been implemented at offices and units within the institution, such as the newly named Office of Indigenous Affairs and Indigenous Student Lounge. The University of New Brunswick has removed George Duncan Ludlow’s name from the faculty of law building on its Fredericton campus, following public concerns about Ludlow’s relationship with Indigenous residential schools and his views on slavery. UNB has also announced that they will be implementing a permanent display exploring Ludlow's history and why his name was removed from the building.   Nation Talk (UNB)  | Memorial   (NB)

UNB, Memorial introduce new terminology, rename programs and units 

Two postsecondary institutions have recently announced changes to terminology and names at their campus. At Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Vice-Presidents Council has approved the official change in terminology from Aboriginal to Indigenous. The change was guided by input from the Nunatsiavut Government, the Innu Nation, the NunatuKavut Community Council, the Miawpukek First Nation, and the Qalipu First Nation. The change has been implemented at offices and units within the institution, such as the newly named Office of Indigenous Affairs and Indigenous Student Lounge. The University of New Brunswick has removed George Duncan Ludlow’s name from the faculty of law building on its Fredericton campus, following public concerns about Ludlow’s relationship with Indigenous residential schools and his views on slavery. UNB has also announced that they will be implementing a permanent display exploring Ludlow's history and why his name was removed from the building.   Nation Talk (UNB)  | Memorial   (NB)

Rhodes Wellness College to launch Indigenous Counselling Diploma

Rhodes Wellness College, in partnership with Jean and Roy Erasmus, has announced the launched of an Indigenous Counselling Diploma program. Beginning in September, the program will train 25 Indigenous students. The program will be comprised of six, three-month semesters with the first four semesters taking place in Yellowknife. The last two semesters, which will see students completing practicums in a clinical setting, will take place at the College campus. Graduates of the program will be registered under the Professional Counsellors Association of Canada, giving the students a wider array of job opportunities than without the designation. “There are various position with the territorial government right now, such as wellness counsellors in each community, and in each elementary and secondary school across the N.W.T.,” said Roy Erasmus.  APTN  (NWT)

Nunavut Sivuniksavut students hold virtual graduation 

Nunavut Sivuniksavut students recently held a virtual graduation to restore a sense of community for students who completed their studies online. Organizing the event took about a month, including planning a pre-taped ceremony that included the lighting of a qulliq, a performance by two students, and a message from the presidents of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. Students also sent in taped messages sharing what they were taking away from the experience. "Graduation is always a time where students put it all behind them, after all the challenges that they've gone through and after all the triumphs, you look back and can realize how much you have accomplished," said instructor Dan Guay. “Normally we have this tremendous sense of community, which was really lacking during the time that students were in isolation. So last night it was really great to get that feeling of community back."  CBC  (NV)