Indigenous Top Ten

June 17, 2020

More Indigenous people in Canada are graduating, but improvements still critical: Globe

“More Indigenous people in Canada are graduating from high school than ever,” write the Globe and Mail Editorial Board, but “it’s still not nearly enough.” Citing Statistics Canada data from 2016, the authors indicate that the graduation rate for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Canadians is markedly below that of non-Indigenous Canadians, but that it has increased over the course of a decade. With an estimated 350,000 Indigenous children turning 15 between 2016 and 2026, governments will need to ensure improved high school graduation rates and transitions into postsecondary education. “The challenges in Indigenous education are big but progress is possible, and it’s happening,” they conclude. “The goal, in a June not far in the future, is for Indigenous teens to finish high school, and go on to more education and life-long success, at the same rate as all other Canadians.” Globe and Mail (National)

NTI allocates $1M in relief to address needs of Inuit students

Over $1M in relief has been allocated by the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated Board to address the needs of Inuit students in Nunavut. The funds, which include contributions from the Government of Canada and Mastercard Foundation, will be distributed to Regional Inuit Associations and Kakivak Associations. “The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the need to accelerate training and development for a local, representative workforce. It is my sincere hope that the legacy of the pandemic in Nunavut is a stronger, local, representative Inuit workforce in all sectors,” said NTI President Aluki Kotierk. “I want to encourage Nunavut Inuit to continue on with your studies during this time so that you can take your rightful place in our economy. I believe in you.” The funds will go toward student needs and considerations such as connectivity barriers, emergency funds for students in transition, expanding online supports, and monitoring the evolving impacts of COVID-19 on students and communities. Nation Talk (NV)

Canadore, Actua launch Kikandaaswiwin Mookiisin Virtual Training Program

Actua and Canadore College have announced the launch of their Kikandaaswiwin Mookiisin virtual training program. The for-credit program is available online to Actua network member instructors who are interested in delivering on-the-land STEM/STEAM programming for youth. Delivery will feature home-based learning and virtual circles. The training will give participants an understanding of Indigenous STEM learning, as well as Indigenous communities’ cultures, histories, and current realities. “Kiikandaaswiwin Mookiisin speaks to the land as our teacher. Everything we need for life is here for us on the land, hence our dependent relationship with the land, and water should be our first understanding,” said Mary Wabano, Director of Academic Operations and Business Development, and Director of the First Peoples Centre at Canadore. “The time to deepen our collective understanding of this fundamental relationship has never been more critical.” Canadore (ON)

NIC, Kwiakah partner on kelp research

NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation (CARTI) and the Kwiakah First Nation are collaborating to conduct wild kelp bed research. The project began when Frank Voelker, who leads Band Management and Economic Development for the Kwiakah First Nation, first approached the college with concerns about the status of the wild kelp beds that contours the shoreline throughout the First Nation’s traditional territory. The collaboration will aim to create a detailed map and measure the wild kelp beds, as well as researching the role of kelp in carbon sequestration. “They are leaders in marine research in our region and are the right partner for Kwiakah to explore measures that will help in our efforts to protect the marine environment,” said Chief Steven Dick. “Equipped with the research results developed by CARTI, Kwiakah will be in a position to work with the BC government to implement the most effective management style for the territory.” Nation Talk (BC)

NV students face growing education gaps due to COVID-19

Educators in Nunavut state that COVID-19 is creating an education gap for students who are unable to complete schoolwork from home, due to overcrowded housing, food insecurity, or no internet connection. “There's no great solution where learning is going to be improved during a pandemic," said Nunavut Teachers’ Association John Fanjoy. "We know a lot of our students don't have access to that [computers or the internet] in their homes so we have to find a way to be able to provide them with that access." Iqaluit District Education Authority Chairperson Doug Workman said that they estimate that over 100 high school students don’t have access to the internet or a computer, and that this particularly impacts students who are learning advanced concepts and may need one-on-one help from a teacher or the internet. The Nunavut Minister of Education David Joanasie told CBC that they are working on different scenarios for the upcoming school year on how schools will function if COVID-19 shows up in a community. CBC (NV)

GDI, SIIT, USask receive $840K to support Indigenous students

The Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, and the University of Saskatchewan have partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to support Indigenous students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The $840K in funding provided by Mastercard will allow the schools to provide Indigenous students with supports in the form of technological solutions to enhance remote learning, mental health and wellness supports, the creation of emergency funding, and enhancement and modification of existing wraparound supports. “This contribution will allow Indigenous students to have the access and support to stay connected and engaged in their studies while in their communities, said USask Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement Jacqueline Ottmann. Nation Talk (SK)

FPSE, Nuxalk partner to promote Indigenous voices on decolonization

The Federation of Postsecondary Educators of BC has partnered with Nuxalk Radio to bring Indigenous perspectives on decolonization to a broader audience. Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization, originally released as a free e-book, will be re-released as a free audiobook beginning June 21st where Indigenous authors and academics will read their contributions. “This collection of voices serves as a reminder that the more we understand Indigenous Nationhood and Indigenous Peoples’ inherent rights to the land, the healthier we and the earth can become in our shared existence,” said Nuxalk Radio Station manager Banchi Hanuse. FPSE (National)

Kw’umut Lelum, NLSF, Mastercard partner to supply 800 laptops, tablets to Indigenous students

800 laptops and tablets will be given to Indigenous students from communities on Vancouver Island, thanks to Kw’umut Lelum, the Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation, and the Mastercard Foundation. The three partners will be supplying the laptops and tablets to local First Nations governments, Indigenous friendship centres, and staff from three school districts, who in turn will identify the students that need devices and organize the distribution. Kw’umut Lelum is also supplying free Wi-Fi access to the communities until the end of December. “Kw’umut Lelum and its nine Coast Salish member nations realize that education is the pathway to betterment of our children’s lives, and during this pandemic we have to ensure all Indigenous learners do not fall behind for economic reasons,” said CEO Sqwulutsutun / William Yoachim. “We give thanks and are honoured to partner with the Mastercard Foundation and the Nanaimo Ladysmith Schools Foundation to work together for our children,” CTV News (BC)

Indigenous researchers reshaping archeology, anthropology

Archaeology and Anthropology departments across Canada are increasingly implementing Indigenous ways of researching and thinking about fields that have by seen by some Indigenous peoples as colonial disciplines. “In a certain way this is not new, because archeology has increasingly emphasized collaboration and working with communities,” said University of Alberta archeologist Kisha Supernant. “But the majority of the practices still remain non-Indigenous.” Scholars and researchers like Supernant are increasingly listening to Indigenous stories, using non-intrusive investigative techniques, and conducting research through an Indigenous lens. “Anthropology has a very colonial history,” said Carleton University PhD student Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, “but that does not mean it has a colonial future. Let’s make it work the ways we need it to work for us.” Globe and Mail (National)

Cowichan Nation Alliance receives $1.49M from Canada for employment hub

The Cowichan Nation Alliance – which is comprised of the Halalt First Nation, Cowichan Tribes, Penelakut Tribe and Stz’uminus First Nation – has received $1.49M from the Government of Canada for its Indigenous Employment Hub. The funds are in addition to $1.2M generated by private industry and the province, and will go towards filling a gap in employment opportunities for Indigenous people in the Alliance. The hub will see partnerships industry, government, and educational institutions to provide training in a wide variety of fields and provide a gateway into new professoins. “We can negotiate for opportunities and jobs, but not we don’t have the people [trained] to do the work,” said Ray Gauthier, chief executive of the Coast Salish Development Corporation. Gauthier added that he hopes the Hub eventually is able to produce entrepreneurs. Times Colonist (BC)