Indigenous Top Ten

July 2, 2020

Canada, provinces pledge major investments, policy shifts for Indigenous learners

The federal government and several provincial governments in Canada have made significant investments and policy shifts to support Indigenous learners this month. The Government of British Columbia has announced that $6.15M in funding will be supplied to Indigenous students in the province’s postsecondary schools. As part of its recently announced $213M Supports for Students Fund, the Government of Ontario announced that it would be investing in Indigenous education. The Government of Saskatchewan has also announced a budget that is $20.9M greater than 2019 and that prioritizes removing barriers to inclusion, “especially for Indigenous students.” In addition, the Government of Canada announced funds for a substantive number of initiatives for students across Canada, including $4M through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to support 275 paid internships within the housing sector for Indigenous Youth. Finally, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has announced the winners of the $1.25M Community Investment Program, which will support postsecondary institutions and community groups as they pursue projects to improve internet infrastructure, digital literacy, and cybersecurity for Indigenous, rural, and Northern communities and students. Canada | BC | ON | SK | Globe Newswire (National)

Algonquin, IPEC launch Lighting the Fire initiative to connect college students, leaders

Algonquin College, in partnership with the Indigenous Peoples’ Education Circle (IPEC), has launched a storytelling and knowledge-sharing initiative to virtually connect college students and leaders from across the province. Lighting the Fire brings together Indigenous leaders and college students in four virtual sessions that aim to inspire and stimulate different ways of thinking, including how the province, the country, and the entire world imagine our future following the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will light ourselves a fire and have conversation,” said Ron (Deganadus) McLester, Algonquin Vice President of Truth, Reconciliation and Indigenization. “This is a moment in history when we remember there is an old way of thinking that we can leverage.” Algonquin (1) | Algonquin (2) (ON)

SD 60 signs local education agreements with Doig River, Halfway River

School District 60 has signed Local Education Agreements with Doig River First Nation and Halfway River First Nation. A Local Education Agreement is a financial and educational agreement to monitor and support the success of First Nations students while also improving the educational outcomes for First Nation students. “The Board of Trustees looks forward to working with our First Nation partners on the successful implementation of these agreements,” said Board Chair Helen Gilbert. “Together, we can improve the outcomes for our First Nation students.” Energeticcity (BC)

Institutions reconsider legacy of Sir John A Macdonald on-campus

Two institutions in Ontario have recently announced that they will be examining the use of Sir John A Macdonald’s name for campus buildings. At Queen’s University, students created a petition to change the name of Sir John A Macdonald Hall, which houses the law department, to Patricia Monture Hall. The proposed name would recognize Queen’s alumna and Mohawk lawyer Patricia Monture. Queen’s Faculty of Law has committed to a formal consultation process regarding the name of Sir John A Macdonald Hall, which will consider the present name and whether it should be removed. At the University of Windsor, a review began of the “appropriateness” of a student residence building named after the former prime minister. The review began after a petition began circulating calling for the building to be renamed. "Whatever you could name these buildings," said Indigenous law student David Pitawanakwat, "there's so many local heroes and local stories that you could choose to honour." Queen’s | The Whig (Queen’s) | CBC (UWindsor) (ON)

Okanagan, WFN sign MOU to support Indigenous students, deepen partnership

Okanagan College and Westbank First Nation (WFN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will increase access and support for WFN members in achieving their postsecondary education goals. The agreement outlines seven ways in which the partners will continue to collaborate on projects and programs that will benefit learners from the WFN community, while helping both organizations learn from one another and build professional capacity. It additionally describes how Okanagan will turn to WFN for guidance on First Nations ways of knowing, doing, and being and how these can be incorporated into the educational, organizational, and cultural fabric of the College. “Our members have been accessing post-secondary education and training opportunities at Okanagan College for decades and in growing numbers,” said WFN Chief Christopher Derickson, “and so we value being able to provide input and guidance into how the College can continue to make good on its commitment to providing welcoming, inclusive and supportive spaces for Indigenous students to thrive.” Okanagan (BC)

HWCDSB, teacher apologize for discriminatory school assignment

A family has raised concerns about a school assignment asking students to write from a colonizer’s point of view that aims to convince Indigenous people to allow the French to stay on Turtle Island. The teacher and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) apologized immediately, with School Board Chair Pat Daly adding that the board is committed to truth and reconciliation. York University Doctoral Student John Hupfield added that understanding colonialism in Ontario is difficult when education involving Indigenous Peoples is not in their hands. “The idea that European settlement could occur through the presentation of a convincing argument gives students the idea that treaty processes were fair and consensual with Indigenous nations,” explained Hupfield. “There has been a lot of historical research that shows us this is not the case and that negotiations through treaty were often one-sided and non-consensual.” APTN News (ON)

MN-S to deliver Michif Early Learning Pilot Project at 5 school divisions in SK

The Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MN-S) has teamed up with five school divisions in three communities on a Michif Early Learning Pilot Project. The program will offer full-day Michif language immersion to students at Regina Public Schools, Regina Catholic Schools, Saskatoon Public Schools, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, and Ile-a-la-Crosse School Division. The language program will involve Métis teachers and Michif Language Keepers, build capacity among educators, and connect students with Métis culture. MN-S states that the initiative is part of The Future of Michif Program. The organization added that it is working to develop a Dene Early Learning Pilot Project with the Northern Lights School division in La Loche. MNS (SK)

McGill student who led change of team name named valedictorian

Tomas Jirousek, the Indigenous student who led the fight to convince McGill University to change the name of its men’s varsity sports teams, was named valedictorian of the school’s Faculty of Arts. During his valedictorian speech, Jirousek called on the other graduates to help fight systemic discrimination. “I think McGill students in particular are well-situated to challenge systemic racism and systemic oppressions which persist in our communities," he told Times Colonist, before acknowledging the challenges other Indigenous students had faced. “A couple of decades ago, the Indian Act wouldn't have allowed an Indigenous student to go to McGill without losing their status.” The men’s varsity teams are now simply known as the McGill teams. Times Colonist (QC)

UPEI AVC to launch project focused on engaging Indigenous youth in veterinary medicine, STEM

The University of Prince Edward Island’s Atlantic Veterinary College has been awarded nearly $30K for a project to engage Indigenous youth in veterinary medicine and STEM fields. "We want to educate folks on the opportunities that are out there in veterinary medicine for Indigenous students and encourage those students to apply to and to gain entry into the profession,” said AVC Dean Greg Keefe, who noted that Indigenous communities are underrepresented in veterinary medicine and science disciplines. The college will also hold workshops for elementary and high school students, with the outreach components to begin as soon as public health restrictions allow. CBC (PEI)

SFU announces First Peoples Gathering House

Simon Fraser University has announced the First Peoples’ Gathering House, which will be designed in the Coast Salish traditions and iconic typologies. “Realizing it is like getting the wish that was always close yet just out of reach,” said Eldon Yellowhorn, an SFU-ARC member and a founding chair of the now-named Department of Indigenous Studies. “Now that we have grasped hold of it we can pay attention to those other wishes that also seemed unreachable.” The Gathering House will include a ceremonial hall with space for up to 300 attendees, a dressing room, an Elders room, a classroom, a wellness room, and a multi-generational Indigenous peoples’ lounge with a food service kitchen. “Providing this kind of beautiful, culturally relevant space for Indigenous learners to come together, to celebrate, to practise cultural traditions, to learn and to make lasting friendships and connections is something I could have only dreamed of when I attended SFU,” said Melanie Mark, BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “This is what reconciliation is all about.” The Gathering House will be funded jointly by the Government of British Columbia and SFU, and will open on the university’s Burnaby campus in 2023. SFU | BC | (BC )