Indigenous Top Ten

October 21, 2020

Kenjgewin Teg joins eCampusOntario 

Kenjgewin Teg has joined eCampusOntario as its first Indigenous member and 46th member overall. This will enable Kenjgewin Teg to contribute to eCampusOntario initiatives and share Anishinabek approaches to education and training. “As a new member alongside Ontario’s colleges and universities and a legislatively recognized Indigenous Institute in Ontario, we look forward to actively participating and contributing to the goals of rethinking learning resources, rethinking recognition of learning and rethinking the learning experience - by sharing our Anishinabek lens and perspectives on teaching and learning,” said Stephanie Roy, president of Kenjgewin Teg. Accesswire (ON)

New YK First Nations education directorate promotes student success

The Yukon First Nations Education Directorate, a newly formed organization replacing the Council of Yukon First Nations’ education department, has launched a number of new programs meant to provide educational empowerment to children in Whitehorse. One such program was a trip to Helen’s Fish Camp where Indigenous and non-Indigenous students participated in traditional activities such as drumming, sports, medicine making and storytelling. Elder Chuck Hume noted that using the fish camp as a learning environment is important for teaching the next generation. “Somewhere down the road you have to learn the life that we lived, where our stories come from, why we’re so close to looking after our countries,” he said. Melanie Bennett, the directorate’s Executive Director, said the programs are a necessary step towards self-reliance and autonomy. “First Nations have had our own ways of knowing and doing for a millennia, and it was lost for a number of reasons throughout history. We’re reclaiming that.” APTN News (YK)

UWinnipeg Developmental studies hosts Indigenous cohort

For the first time in its history, the University of Winnipeg’s Developmental Studies program is hosting an Indigenous cohort. While the program was originally intended to have all of the students on-campus for classes, Director of Developmental Studies Sheri-Lynn Skwarchuk created a Course-in-a-Box to allow all students to participate remotely. “All of the readings and activity materials were included in this box,” she explained. “Students are expected to check in with the professor once per week to stay connected and ensure progress is made during the fall term.” To date, Skwarchuk has made connections with most of the students through individual phone calls and discussions in order to encourage them to stay on track with the program. “There’s no plans for a new group next year, but perhaps the year after,” Skwarchuk said. NationTalk (MB)

Indigenous teachers underrepresented within Winnipeg schools

A new report released by the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle (WIEC) shows that Indigenous teachers are underrepresented within Winnipeg schools. The State of Equity in Education Report surveyed the seven Winnipeg school divisions and found that while Indigenous students make up nearly 17% of the student population, only 8% of the teachers are Indigenous. WIEC co-chair Trevor LaForte said that “we want to work together with the school divisions to close that gap and try and get more Indigenous teachers within the schools,” but that there needs to be more Indigenous people represented in every level of education, including school trustees and school boards. Manitoba also has lower numbers of Indigenous students pursuing the field of education in postsecondary. “We need to make sure there’s increased supports but also push people to learn their languages and learn about their cultures but as well as want to teach that so [they] can pass it on,” said Cameron Adams, a student in Indigenous languages and education at the University of Winnipeg. APTN News (MB)

Loyalist unveils new A’nó:wara Learning Circle

Loyalist College has unveiled its new A’nó:wara Learning Circle, an outdoor space designed specifically to give Indigenous community members a space to promote their culture, tradition, and ceremony. “The relationship with Mother Earth is sacred, and the interconnectedness of Indigenous Peoples with the land and the natural world is a lived experience,” said Paul Latchford, Manager of Indigenous Services at Loyalist. “The A’nó:wara Learning Circle provides a safe space on campus to share Indigenous teachings and cultural ceremonies.” The Learning Circle’s design incorporates Indigenous symbols, such as the circle (the foundation of Indigenous ceremonies), the 28 stones around the turtle (the 28 days of the lunar month), and the firepit feature and 12 stones in the turtle’s shell (the 13 Grandmother Moons). “We are proud to have this representation of Indigenous knowledge and heritage on campus where it will be used for teaching outdoor classes, facilitating workshops, and holding traditional ceremonies,” said Ann Marie Vaughan, Loyalist President. Loyalist (ON)

SFU invests in Indigenous entrepreneurs, engage in responsible investing 

Simon Fraser University has made a commitment to support Indigenous entrepreneurs and engage in responsible investing. SFU has invested $1M in Raven Indigenous Impact Fund (RIIF), an organization that supports Indigenous entrepreneurs, economy, and social enterprise. SFU has also signed the Responsible Investment Association’s Canadian Investor Statement on Diversity & Inclusion initiative, pledging transparency within investment portfolios and within SFU. “Simon Fraser University’s commitment to the Raven Indigenous Impact Fund underscores its commitment to advancing economic reconciliation in Canada by supporting innovative, scalable Indigenous enterprises with measurable community benefit streams,” said Raven Indigenous Capital Partners CIO Stephen Nairne. SFU President Joy Johnson said the institution is intent on “addressing systematic racism and social inequities beyond the classroom... By signing the Canadian Investor Statement on Diversity & Inclusion we are further increasing our efforts to take intentional steps to promote diversity and inclusion across our investment portfolios, and within our organization.” SFU (BC)

Elementary school adds tipis to Indigenous education program

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Elliot Lake, Ontario has added two original 16-foot tipis to their schoolyard to be used in their Native Second Language (NSL) program. Students will learn how to put up and take down one of the tipis, and the other will be permanently standing throughout the year. Jeff Jacobs from the Sumac Creek Tipi Company and his team visited the school to instruct students on how to assemble and disassemble the tipi. They also taught students about the history of and teachings behind the tipi. “There is a lot of excitement throughout the school,” said Chylene Day, a NSL teacher at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School. “During these times of crisis, we have added two new safe spaces to our NSL program where all students can do some outdoor learning in an Ojibway style Tipi. Reigniting the Anishinaabe teachings, language, and cultural history through storytelling and hands on activities brings a sense of pride and acknowledgment that we are all Treaty People.” NationTalk | Elliot Lake Today (ON)

Racism, poor attendance connected in Alberta schools

A study of student absences in Alberta’s Rocky View School district has reported that while Indigenous students with poor attendance in off-reserve schools show signs of experiencing racism, educators attribute the issues students face to the legacy of residential schools. One parent in the study said that “this assumption by educators was demeaning and served only to delegate the issues of contemporary racism into the background.” The article states that “despite educators not recognizing [racism] as a barrier, daily experiences of racism and a lack of cultural understandings are contributing to the poor attendance of on-reserve students.” It concludes by saying that more research needs to be done on how student experiences of racism impact attendance patterns, and how systemic racism and oppression remains within educational policies, curriculum and teaching, and the classroom. The Conversation (AB)

Red Crow breaks ground on new Kainai campus

Red Crow Community College has officially broken ground on the construction of its new 9,888-square-metre Kainai campus. This building project replaces the campus that was destroyed by fire in 2015 and will create almost 300 local construction-related jobs. The Government of Canada is contributing $20M to the project, while the rest is funded by Kainai and Red Crow. “Education is the way forward for our people,” said Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox. “On-reserve educational opportunities for students is an important factor in the economic, social and cultural well-being of our community. We are proud to play such an integral role in educating and training our people and we look forward to sharing our new facility with you once open.” Lethbridge Herald | Construct Connect (AB)

Nunavik school board faces staffing shortages as schools open

With all 17 of the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s elementary and secondary schools open after a staggered opening throughout September, students have returned to class for the first time since March. However, staffing shortages continue to hamper some school operations and have forced the Tukisiniarvik school in Akulivik to close after it was unable to secure enough teachers, janitors, and other support staff. The KI has nine vacant teaching positions, nine vacant Inuktitut teaching positions, and a number of vacant essential positions “in almost every community,” according to Kativik Ilisarniliriniq Director General Harriet Keleutak. KI states that it has successfully moved its Adult Education learning online using Moodle, enabling students to download their courses and access the curriculum at home and offline. “Nunavimmiut who register in general education courses often choose the adult sector because they are juggling work and family obligations,” explained KI interim director of adult education and vocational training Mamadou Diop, “They need flexibility in terms of when they can do their learning. Moodle is going to make a big difference in helping them reach their goals.” Nunatsiaq Online (NV)