Indigenous Top Ten

September 9, 2020

UVic to build National Centre for Indigenous Laws

The University of Victoria has received $13M from the Province of British Columbia and $5M from the Law Foundation of BC to build Canada’s first National Centre for Indigenous Laws (NCIL). UVic President Jamie Cassels says that the NCIL “will be home to the first Indigenous law program in the world to combine the intensive study of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous law, and will help Canada build a new nation-to-nation relationship based on the recognition–and renaissance–of Indigenous legal traditions.” UVic states that the building will meet the highest environmental standards and will use Coast Salish designs, signage, and public art. Indigenous law program co-founder and director Val Napoleon explained that the building “represents a sanctuary where our laws, which enable us to be peoples, will be safe, and where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students will learn about those laws, creating the foundation to a multi-juridical Canada.” UVic | CBC | Times Colonist (BC)

Cree bilingual school announces move to ‘game-changing’ new facility

St. Frances Cree Bilingual School has announced that it will be moving to a new facility, which is set to open in 2023, after growing to over 500 enrolled students. "The kids are banging into each other playing on the playground," said Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand. “So the opportunity to have a new school with a bigger playground and more space, having the right opportunities for them to be educated is really exciting.” The school, which was opened in 2007 with 100 students, currently offers its program at two locations as a temporary solution for its ever-growing enrolment. The Province of Saskatchewan has pledged $34.5M toward the new facility, and Education Minister Gordon Wyant has stated that the next step in the process will involve community consultation. CBC (SK)

Brock FOE, LON 360° partner to educate K-12 students in Niagara region on Indigenous issues

Brock University’s Faculty of Education (FOE) has partnered with the Landscape of Nations 360° (LON 360°) Indigenous Education Initiative to advance the work of LON 360° in K-12 classrooms in the Niagara region. This collaboration will enhance the teaching of Indigenous history, experience, and knowledge within Ontario’s curriculum. LON 360° has developed A Framework for Essential Understandings About Indigenous Peoples Of The Niagara Region, provided professional development for teachers, and will be launching instructional modules that connect with Ontario’s curriculum. “We are delighted to explore how we might leverage the combined intellectual and research capacities of Brock and the LON 360° Indigenous Education Initiative to enhance learning and teaching in schools across Niagara and beyond,” says FOE Dean Michael Owen. Brock | Framework (ON)

SGEI uses technology to connect elders with students

The Seven Generations Education Institute is using technology to keep elders safe as well as connected with students. The institute says that the pandemic has provided new opportunities to empower students through Anishinaabemowin and culture, such as employing an Anishinaabemowin teacher who lives in Minnesota to provide online classes or setting up video chats between Elders and staff and students. "We're seeing how the two worlds (technology and culture) are colliding," said Brent Tookenay. "The world has opened up to us a bit in terms of access.” Tookenay explained that students have maintained the cultural protocol of offering tobacco by sending a photo of tobacco to an elder when asking a question: When the elder responds through video chat, both asker and elder hold tobacco in their left hands to make a spiritual connection. "Once we are done the conversation,” he explained, “we place the tobacco in the woods or the water to honour the protocols." CBC (ON)

ON, MB Indigenous schools announce no reopening for Fall, plan alternative delivery

Many Indigenous schools in Ontario and Manitoba are opting to not reopen their in-person classrooms this fall, instead either delaying their opening or planning virtual and remote learning offerings. Two First Nations high schools in Ontario have announced that they will not reopen in September due to a lack of funding to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) states that others may cancel the entire first semester as well. Six Nations Schools will be providing online or paper work packages to students during September and October. The Manitoba Métis Federation announced that it would develop a homeschooling plan to help parents who prefer to keep their children at home for the safety of their families, while the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC) is reportedly working on a remote learning strategy for its schools. CBC (1) | CBC (2) | Chronicle Herald (MB) (MB | ON)

Cégep de Baie-Comeau, Cégep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue offer Indigenous police technology training

Cégep de Baie-Comeau has announced the launch of a Police Technology program that will be adapted to the needs and realities of Indigenous communities, with the support and partnership of Cégep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue. In response to the Viens Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, both institutions proposed an update to the program to the Quebec Ministry of Education and Higher Education. The program will educate students about the history of Indigenous peoples and their experiences within the justice system, as well as provide training for Indigenous students wanting to enter into law enforcement within their own communities. The program is expected to launch in Fall 2021. CEGEP de Baie-Comeau (QC)

DCDSB introduces new English course readings focused on Indigenous voices

Grade 11 English students in Durham Catholic District School Board will be exploring Indigenous voices instead of conventional texts such as Shakespeare. The new course was developed by a team of educators and Indigenous advisors Melanie O’Neill and Karli Robertson, who are members of the Indigenous Education Advisory Circle. The course will include readings from authors such as Tanya Talaga, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Waubgeshig Rice, as well as exploring documents such as the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action. “When we looked at our Catholic social teachings about really addressing those who have been marginalized, we really wanted to make this a priority in our board,” said Superintendent of Education Mariah O’Reilly. “We saw it as a tremendous opportunity to build capacity in our students and teachers around the really important issues of Indigenous education and to enrich our students’ knowledge and experience of our Canadian history and where we want to go moving forward.” Catholic Register (ON)

Indigenous student group advocates for flexible approach to online learning

Indigenous postsecondary students in Quebec say that COVID-19 has the potential to disproportionately impact their studies this fall, and are calling for a “creative and flexible” approach to classes. Closures and the quick change to online learning in the spring were difficult for many who relied on libraries and computer labs, or were unable to access stable Wi-Fi after going home to remote areas. The group’s statement emphasized that “we are already at a disadvantage; we don’t want the pandemic to add to the pre-existing inequity.” Many postsecondary classes have been moved online this fall, and Indigenous students worry about the challenges of isolation, and the difficulty in accessing necessities for online learning. CBC (QC)

Faculty, instructors across North America plan Scholar Strike

Faculty members, instructors, and students across North America have announced a Scholar Strike that will take place this week. The organizers explain that the Canadian strike aligns with the American strike in its call for racial justice and an end to anti-Black police violence, and additionally adds a focus on anti-Indigenous, colonial violence. The organizers have stated that there will be cross-campus digital teach-ins from York University, the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and OCAD University. “Statements of solidarity, while important, are not enough,” write the organizers. “We must commit ourselves as scholars, artists, writers, poets, designers and researchers to actively ending all forms of racist, carceral, institutional and systemic forms of violence.” ScholarStrikeCanada | OCUFA (National)

UBC, Tŝilhqot’in Nation strengthen research ties through signing MOU, IK Protocol

The University of British Columbia and Tŝilhqot’in Nation have signed a MOU and an Indigenous Knowledge Protocol Agreement (IK Protocol) to collaborate on research done at UBC’s Centre for Environmental Assessment Research (CEAR). This agreement establishes culturally safe research practices, which emphasize issues related to power imbalances, racism, and discrimination, while also laying the groundwork for collaborative research that recognizes the importance of Tŝilhqot’in knowledge and understanding of the land in future research projects. UBC and the Tŝilhqot’in National Government are already collaborating on research projects, and CEAR states that they look forward to continuing to learn from its Indigenous partners to understand more about the Tŝilhqot’in territory. UBC Okanagan (BC)