Indigenous Top Ten

February 10, 2021

First Nations seek audit of spending at SD57

The chiefs of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band are reportedly seeking an audit of how School District 57 is spending the money that has been earmarked for its Indigenous students. In an issued statement, the chiefs explain that the two communities have not received transparent, annual accounts of how the money they send the district is being used, and expressed concern about lower graduation rates for Indigenous students in the district. “Our education teams keep asking for details about how the funds we send each year are spent, and all we have received so far is correspondence in ‘draft’ form,” MLIB deputy chief Jayde Duranleau said. SD57 Board Chair Trent Derrick confirmed that the district has received the request and that the district is “working to determine the scope and nature of the request as well as to establish who will cover the expenses attached to this endeavour.” Prince George Citizen (BC)

UAlberta offers Introduction to Indigenous Business course

The University of Alberta is offering a new course, Introduction to Indigenous Business, which is designed to educate students about challenges and opportunities faced by Indigenous entrepreneurs. The elective course was developed by UAlberta professor David Deephouse as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 92nd Call to Action. Through the course, students learn about the economic impact of colonialism, treaties, the Indian Act, and more. “We should all be doing it within businesses as part of corporate training, but also through our educational training and business education,” said Deephouse, who noted that he is also learning from the diverse experiences of his students. “Every day goes by and there’s something new and exciting to learn about in this area.” CBC (AB)

LRSD students use Minecraft video game to explore Anishinaabe culture

Students in Winnipeg's Louis Riel School Division are exploring Anishinaabe culture through a custom world in the popular video game Minecraft. Upon entering the custom world, students find themselves at The Forks in pre-colonial time, with custom-made plants and animals to match the wildlife native to the area. Students navigate the world, talk to Anishinaabe characters, and complete tasks such as building a birchbark canoe. “Minecraft EDU has been a thing for quite some time in which teachers from around the world with Minecraft EDU can collaborate on projects,” said Marion School Principal Corey Kapilik, who worked with teachers to develop the project. “I think one of the coolest things about the game is the buffalo hunt. Students collaborate on steering buffalo to the edge of a cliff as would have been traditionally done.” During the design of the game, Kapilik and the teachers consulted with Grandmother Chickadee, an Anishinaabe knowledge keeper. Kapilik stated that he hopes the game can be expanded to include other First Nations in the country. CBC | CTV News (MB)

Brock, Niagara partner to host REDress Project

Brock University and Niagara College have partnered to host an installation of the REDress Project. Dresses will be installed on both the Brock campus and the Niagara campus for a week, and the Brock and Niagara communities will be encouraged to participate in virtual events about the REDress Project; missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people; and the impacts in Niagara. “I’m so excited this year’s REDress event is a collaboration between Niagara College and Brock University,” said Robyn Bourgeois, Brock’s Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement. “Partnership and collaboration are the cornerstones of success, and I’m so pleased we can work together to raises awareness about MMIWG2S+.” Brock | NationTalk (ON)

YK, Kluane First Nation make strides toward new school in Burwash Landing

The Government of Yukon and Kluane First Nation are working together to build a new school in Burwash Landing. The development will see the current Kluane Lake School moved from Destruction Bay to Burwash Landing, which has been a longstanding request from the First Nation. YK and the First Nation signed a MOU outlining a commitment to the plan in June 2020. “2021 will be 104 years since Kluane First Nation had asked for a school to be built in Burwash Landing,” explained Kluane First Nation Chief Bob Dickson. “We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Government of Yukon to build a new school. One that will be based on our language, culture, and traditions for all ages, and will be useful for education purposes and for the Community as a whole.” Dickson added that, with a new school, the First Nation hopes to be able to retain their current citizens and encourage others to move home to the community. The school will accommodate students from K-12. Nation Talk (YK)

Mother expresses outrage, teacher removed following art class assignment

Lena Recollet, the mother of a Grade 9 student at the Toronto District School Board, expressed outrage when her son was given a school assignment to make a medicine bag out of paper. The assignment – for a class called Expressions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Cultures – was reportedly taught by a non-Indigenous teacher who used a paper bag from the LCBO as an example. Medicine bags are deeply spiritual and sacred items, explains CBC, and typically made out of leather. The TDSB indicated that the incident is “completely unacceptable” and removed the teacher from instructing the course. However, Indigenous educators say the incident speaks to a larger structural issue that includes a lack of professional development and hiring practices. “For Indigenous students, this is a direct attack on cultural identity and makes a mockery of the things that we value,” commented University of Toronto Assistant Professor Dr Jennifer Brant. “I want to say it’s shocking, but it isn’t shocking. It’s deeply troubling how common these types of insensitive or inappropriate assignments occur.” CBC (ON)

NEC announces tuition-free Indigenous Recycling Employment Entry Program

Native Education College has announced it will begin offering a tuition-free Indigenous Recycling Employment Entry Program. Students in the three-month program will participate in skills training and a job placement in recycling or materials management in order to prepare for a career as a recycling technician. Indigenous cultural components will be incorporated into the program through guest speakers, cultural events, Indigenous support staff, and more. “The recycling industry requires well prepared workers and some Indigenous people have an affinity for entry level jobs in a safe and secure environment,” states NEC. Graduates will receive a completion certificate upon completing the program. NEC (Release) | NEC (Program) (BC)

Carleton announces renaming of three campus buildings to recognize diverse communities

Carleton University President Benoit-Antoine Bacon has announced the New Names for New Times initiative, which seeks to recognize Carleton’s diverse communities. The initiative will see Carleton engage Algonquin communities, Black communities, and the Inuit community as they rename three main campus buildings: The University Centre, Residence Commons, and Robertson Hall. In particular, Carleton plans to consult with the Kitigan Zibi and Pikwakanagan communities in the naming of the University Centre, which is a central and high-profile facility at the crossroads of campus activity. “We expect that processes such as the one we are launching today will become increasingly common as universities continue to adjust their physical spaces – and other aspects of their activities and operations – to the realities and needs of the present time,” said Bacon. “I am proud that Carleton will be taking this important step towards further strengthening our commitment to Indigenous Reconciliation and against anti-Black racism.” Carleton (ON)

SD53 sees Indigenous graduation rates reach all-time high

School District No. 53 reports that Indigenous student graduation rates have reached an all-time high. The district’s annual report to the Ministry of Education compares Indigenous students’ performance year over year in foundational skills, literacy and numeracy, course completion results, and graduation rates. In 2019 and 2020, Indigenous six-year school completion rates reached 69%, which Castanet reports is a five-year high mark. “We are putting a real concerted effort into making stronger connections with our Indigenous students and their families,” said SD53 Director of Learning and Inquiry Marcus Toneatto. “We are trying to make our schools more welcoming and we are basically opening things up to look at where does systemic racism exist and how can we address it?” Toneatto stated that the school district is projecting a 73% six-year completion rate next year, and outlined the work and initiatives that the district plans to take on in the future to continue to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. Castanet (BC)

Sask Polytech, GDI, Saskatoon, Radius, STC collaborate on kanātan nipīy program

Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Gabriel Dumont Institute, City of Saskatoon, Radius Community Centre, and Saskatoon Tribal Council have partnered on the coordination of the kanātan nipīy (the water is clean/clean water) program. Students in the program will learn essential water treatment skills that will provide them with a career pathway. Two streams of the program will be offered for Indigenous learners: one for those under 30 years old, and one for all ages. “Indigenous students are an important part of Saskatoon’s community,” said Dr Larry Rosia, President of Sask Polytech. “Providing essential skills training is one way to help the Indigenous learners participating in the program to succeed in their water treatment training and as members of today’s workforce.” Sask Polytech (SK)