Indigenous Top Ten

January 27, 2021

New robes created with cedar, Coast Salish design for first Indigenous woman as KPU chancellor

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s new chancellor, Kim Baird, is a former chief of Tsawwassen First Nation and a graduate of KPU. As the first Indigenous woman to serve as chancellor at KPU, Baird was given new academic robes with a Coast Salish design and modern fit to honour her. “It was quite a collaborative project from the beginning, because I worked with Kim and some other Tsawwassen First Nation representatives to make sure that we were contributing in a way that would be appropriate, as well as really educational and creative,” said KPU graduate and freelance fashion designer Sam Stringer. A cedar weaver from Tsawwassen created a traditional mat for the robe, which was cut into shapes and integrated into the sleeves of the robe. Baird stated that the finished robe far exceeded her expectations, and added that wearing regalia that reflects her heritage felt like starting off her time as chancellor on the right foot: “Some people might think it’s window dressing, but I think it’s really important, these symbolic gestures,” she said. “It’s an important gesture for reconciliation.” University Affairs (BC)

Confederacy of Treaty No 6 Chiefs reject ISC’s education funding formula

The Confederacy of Treaty No 6 First Nations Chiefs have expressed concern and refused to give consent for Indigenous Services Canada’s approach in developing an education funding formula based on comparability to the current Albertan grant structure. Citing issues with the current grant structure and with the inadequate amount of time the First Nations had to review the target allocations for 2021-2022, the Confederacy states that ISC’s approach was “initiated without Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of the Nations.” Instead, the Confederacy has stated that they are seeking adequate funding to deliver services to their members and effectively operate their schools, as well as requesting formal engagement with ISC to develop a funding regime for First Nations education programs and services. “The Confederacy of Treaty No. 6 affirms that life-long learning Education is a Treaty and Inherent Right and First Nations have a right to control all aspects of education, from early childhood through post-secondary which must be honoured and respected,” concludes the release. Nation Talk | (AB | SK)

Kugaaruk celebrates new school building three years after losing last school to fire

Three years after a fire burned their only school, Kugaardjuq, to the ground, the community of Kugaaruk is celebrating its new school. The new school has a front hall with high ceilings and metal and wood flourishes to mimic the ocean waves, along with coloured windows and the integration of the old school’s stones as an accent for a trophy case. The new school – named Arviligruaq Ilinniarvik, which means bowhead whale – did not replace what was lost in the fire, reports Nunatsiaq Online, but has sparked pride and new interests for its staff, students, and wider community. “It’s just such a beautiful, new and modern building,” said school principal Jason Hatt. “On opening day, I just remember watching the reaction of parents and students when they walked into the gym that first day. They were overcome with emotion, saying, ‘Oh my goodness, this is ours.’” The school experienced an increase in student registration in the first year that it opened, and the building earned engineering company Accutech awards in 2020 for its design. Nunatsiaq Online (NV)

Humber launches Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing initiative for ECE

Humber College has launched a new Early Childhood Education initiative called Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing that is focused on changing the way people think about land-based play. The program will teach students, educators, and the community to see the land as a teacher, drawing on Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. “Humber Early Childhood Education within the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness is embracing the guiding principles of Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed Seeing,” said ECE Professor Louise Zimanyi. “This new course plants the seeds of sustainability as it relates to engaging in respectful, reciprocal and responsible relationships with places, plant-life, animals and other-than-human beings for the benefit of all.” Humber (ON)

ACC joins Algonquin in Indigenous YouthBuild Canada program

Assiniboine Community College has become a proud partner of the Indigenous YouthBuild Canada program. IYBC, a national program led by Algonquin College, is focused on helping Indigenous youth gain trade skills and education. Through the program, ACC will deliver a 26-week Applied Building Construction program for 10 youth from Treaty 2 Territory. Students who participate in the accredited program will be able to participate in a six-week work practicum placement and gain invaluable workplace experience. “Our goals are to teach and support students during the program and ultimately to provide meaningful, practical training that leads to jobs upon graduation,” said Kate Pelletier, Dean of the School of Trades and Access Programs. Other partners of IYBC include Akwesasne Education & Training Institute, Atoskiwin Training & Employment Centre, Manitoba Institute of Trades & Technology, Thompson Rivers University, and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. ACC (MB)

Rankin Inlet school lets students look at careers in justice

A new law class at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik high school in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut has provided students with an opportunity to learn more about careers in justice. The course was developed with the objective of creating “a space where students can see, learn, and interact with justice workers who look like them, who are Inuit,” said Victoria Perrie, course instructor and Metis-Cree criminal lawyer with legal aid in Rankin Inlet. The class involved traditional classroom activities along with Inuit guest speakers and field trips. Students heard presentations from justice professionals such as guards and administrators from Rankin Inlet Healing Facility, a court reporter, lawyers, and more. “The students have been super engaged and really enjoying learning about both colonial law and Inuit law and the differences, similarities and the interplay of both on their territory,” said Perrie. Perrie said that the school intends to bring the class back to Rankin Inlet for the 2021 fall semester, with the hope of expanding the program throughout Kivalliq down the road. Nunatsiaq Online (NV)

Brock joins CCAB to support Indigenous businesses

Brock University has joined the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) to support Indigenous businesses. As a member of CCAB, Brock will have access to over 1,000 Indigenous businesses, as well as access to diverse programming, tools, and training. “It’s such a great example of how we can operationalize what we mean by that pillar of fostering a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization and showing our support for Indigenous Peoples,” explained Robyn Bourgeois, Brock’s Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement. “When you think about how a university can do an Indigenous strategy, procurement may not be the first thought, but I love that when Chuck [Maclean, Director of Procurement] looked at his own purview, he saw that chance and jumped at it.” Brock states that 2021 is the university’s first year as a full member of CCAB, but that the university has had a long-term connection with the late Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, one of CCAB’s founding member. Brock (ON)

YorkU launches virtual Indigenous Student Exchange Program

York University has launched a virtual pilot of their Indigenous Student Exchange Program. Through the program, ten students will participate in online workshops, which include topics such as food sovereignty, global Indigeneity, and knowledge keeping and sharing. Each student will be paired with another student from one of YorkU’s partner universities to complete a creative project. “In an unprecedented way at York, this program will create a knowledge exchange platform that allows each student to share their unique knowledge based on the Indigenous nation which they come from, while also drawing attention to the fact that there exists a multiplicity of Indigenous perspectives and experiences,” said Indigenous recruitment officer Breanna Barry. YorkU (ON)

Nine schools in NWT receive computers from De Beers Group

De Beers Group has announced that it is donating 213 computers to be distributed to nine schools in six Northwest Territories communities. “Education is a cornerstone of De Beers Group’s commitment to Building Forever in the NWT because learning and literacy are integral to healthy, successful communities,” said Gahcho Kué Mine Social Performance Manager Kelly Brenton. “These additional computers will help even more students be able to access online courses and continue remote learning as the pandemic continues into 2021.” The donation is in addition to the 117 computers that the organization provided in August 2020, according to Nation Talk. An additional eight iPad mini tablets are being provided to the Deninu Kué First Nation in Fort Resolution to help elders stay connected. Nation Talk (NWT)

ON universities create fellowships for Indigenous and Black doctoral students

Six Ontario universities have partnered to create the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology Momentum Fellowships to support Indigenous and Black doctoral students in the areas of engineering and technology. Those involved in the partnership include Queen’s University, McMaster University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, and Western University. “Seeing is believing,” says UWaterloo Dean of Engineering Mary Wells. “How can we encourage Indigenous and Black students to come to our nation’s engineering schools if they don’t regularly experience Indigenous or Black professors, teaching and undertaking research in the schools and programs we want them to attend?” The fellowship program aims to increase representation of Indigenous and Black students within STEM programs and to prepare them for careers as professors or industry researchers. “Launching the IBET Momentum Fellowships is a start,” said U of T Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering Dean Chris Yip, “and we plan to listen and evolve our program as we learn from its first candidates.” Queen’s | U of T | Western (ON)