Indigenous Top Ten

March 10, 2021

Tl’etinqox First Nation to construct new daycare, provide education up to Grade 12

Tl’etinqox First Nation has received approval for funding through the Government of British Columbia to build a 76-space daycare. Chief Joe Alphonse expressed his excitement for the announcement, explaining that childcare can be challenging to come by in rural communities. Construction is expected to begin this spring, and Alphonse said that he anticipates that the Tl’etinqox ?Esqax (Anaham Children) would be completed by March 2022. The Toronto Starreports that, starting in the next school year, the Tl’etinqox School will also be providing education for students up to Grade 12. “I think having and being able to teach right up to Grade 12 right in our community and immerse our kids in our language as long as we can it’s really big steps for our community and positive ones,” Alphonse said. “You want healthier kids, and they stay home, they study their language, their culture. They’re supervised, and they can stay on the right path.” The Toronto Star (BC)

UWinnipeg, AFOA Canada, CPA Canada partner on CAFM pilot project

The University of Winnipeg, AFOA Canada, and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) have partnered to launch a pilot program to help Indigenous students pursue a Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM) designation. Indigenous students in accounting or business majors at UWinnipeg, the University of Manitoba, Brandon University, University College of the North, and Assiniboine Community College will be able to access CAFM training through AFOA Canada. The training is offered in a blended model, which allows students to access online learning, networking, and accessing mentorship. “At the University of Winnipeg, we are keenly aware of the need to support opportunities for Indigenous students to obtain a post-secondary education,” said UWinnipeg Interim President Dr James Currie. “Through this innovative project, Indigenous students across Manitoba will be supported on their journey to achieving the CAFM designation.” UWinnipeg (MB)

Investigation finds barriers, government confusion around safe water for First Nations schools, communities

APTN News has published an article on the difficulties that water operators in First Nations face with ensuring their school and community water systems are safe. Tests completed by the First Nations Health Authority on 261 sites on reserves in 2017 uncovered unsafe lead levels in the water of 35 schools. First Nations are struggling to resolve the issue due to poor government supports and a lack of funding, according to a journalistic investigation by Concordia University and the University of British Columbia. First Nations from other provinces shared their own difficulties with government confusion, financial limitations, and knowledge barriers when it came to testing and fixing their water and water supply. The authors concluded that the long-term solution is improved control and oversight by First Nations. “Generations of neglect have got us into this situation,” says Coty Zachariah of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization. “It’s going to take generations of investment, generations of capacity building, and generations of handing over the keys of the things that you took.” APTN News (National)

Indigenous student gathering spaces strengthen connections, sense of belonging

In an article that reflects on the experiences of students and graduates such as CBC Pieces host Jeremy Ratt, CBC reporter Missy Johnson explains how dedicated gathering spaces for Indigenous students and improved curricula can help foster a sense of belonging and strengthen connections. University of British Columbia Assistant Professor Dr Shannon Ledy, who is Métis, explained that gathering spaces provide “a place where someone is going to understand the kinds of micro-aggressions and erasures that Indigenous students face daily within curriculum and pedagogy.” Nadine McSpadden of the Secwepemc Nation, who works as a helping teacher in Surrey, BC, added that it is important for Indigenous students to see themselves represented in the curriculum and throughout their school: “When we showcase Indigenous culture in the classroom in a way that makes our kids feel like, ‘Wow, we are definitely something of value,’ then they’re more willing to connect.” CBC (National)

Ryerson receives $2.5M for Indigenous Youth-Centered Justice Project

Ryerson University’s National Indigenous Courtworkers: Indigenous Youth-Centered Justice Project (IYJP) is receiving nearly $2.5M from the Government of Canada’s Department of Justice over five years to help improve outcomes for Indigenous youth who are both involved in the child welfare and the youth criminal justice systems. The funding will support IYJP’s efforts to reduce or eliminate custody for Indigenous youth, reduce time within the youth criminal justice system, and keep youth from moving into the adult system. “Indigenous Courtworkers look forward to partnering with Toronto’s Ryerson University on the National Indigenous Courtworkers: Youth-Centered Justice Project,” said the Indigenous Courtwork Directors’ IYJP Steering Committee. “We are pleased that Ryerson University has approached us to share our knowledge and experience in this project. Indigenous Courtworkers would like to acknowledge Dr. Judy Finlay of Ryerson University’s School of Child and Youth for recognizing the importance of Indigenous leadership on this project and for her commitment on behalf of young people across Canada.” CA (ON)

BSD distributes Indigenous learning kits developed around Seven Grandfathers

Brandon School Division students and teachers will be able to get their hands on new Indigenous learning kits that will introduce students to the “Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers.” Each kit includes activity workbooks, colouring books, and hand-painted rocks that represent each of the seven teachings. “The kit offers a variety of exciting ideas and hands-on cultural activities,” explained BSD Indigenous education specialist Amie Martin. “The kit is aligned with the provincial curriculum and is good for any grade level or subject area.” The kits include recordings of four Indigenous languages – Anishinaabe, Cree, Dakota, and Michif – and Martin explained that the items can help teach children about COVID-19 protocols through an Indigenous lens. Brandon Sun (MB)

Indigenous students, faculty discuss progress, issues with Indigenization of PSE

In a recent article by The Star, several members of Canadian higher education share their stories of progress in the Indigenization of Canadian institutions, as well as experiences with tokenism, broken promises, and ethnic fraud. “Universities like to pursue these symbolic gestures, these superficial, surface-level changes that make it appear as though there’s something fundamentally changing when, in reality … the changes are not really there,” explains Hayden King, an Anishinaabe educator and adviser to the dean of arts on Indigenous education at Ryerson University. “That surface-level inclusion hasn’t really pushed colleges and universities to think deeply, critically and creatively about what it actually means to bring Indigenous people, students, communities, knowledge, pedagogies, research methodologies into these spaces.” The article includes conversations with institutional staff such as instructors, deans, and advisors who encountered a wide array of issues with institutions that were unable to unwilling to undergo meaningful change. The Star (National)

Indigenous Cultural Alliance alleges systemic racism against Bishop’s

Bishop’s University’s Indigenous Cultural Alliance (ICA) members have raised issues with Bishop’s treatment of Indigenous peoples and issues, according to APTN News and City News. APTN News explains that the ICA has made allegations of instances of systemic racism against Bishop’s, including disrespect directed at the former vice-chair of the university’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Nikki Baribeau. “There was a lot of eye-rolling and there was a lot of negative tones when we were asking our questions,” explained Baribeau. ICA members also cited the university’s “insensitive” land acknowledgment, underrepresentation of Indigenous staff, retaliation against students who bring up issues, unwillingness to pay to have Indigenous guest speakers, and exclusion from the planning of Bishop’s new “Kwigw8mna ‘Our House’” project. “These are important and at times difficult and painful discussions,” said Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom in a response, “and we are determined to pursue them in a climate of candor and mutual respect.” APTN News | City News (QC)

New children’s books published in Indigenous languages

Indigenous parents and educators across Canada have been creating and publishing children’s books that seek to teach their languages. Shyla Augustine, member of Elsipogtog First Nation and student at St Thomas University, worked with illustrator Braelyn Cyr to create an alphabet book that includes the Mi’kmaw words for animals. Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in government language administrator Georgette McLeod has published a new Hän-language childrens’ book named “Shëtsey” that depicts a grandpa doing activities that he loves. McLeod said that her inspiration for the book was the book’s translator, Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation elder Percy Henry. In Guelph, Dr Brittany Luby has published her second children’s book: Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know, which focuses on the four seasons. Dr Luby worked with Alvin Corbiere and his son York University assistant professor Dr Alan Corbiere to insert an Anishinaabe version that precedes the English text. CBC (NB) | CBC (YK) | Yahoo (ON) (National)

Transfer of Indigenous programming from SD68 to SD84 raises concerns for organizations

The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre and Mid-Island Metis Nation are expressing concerns after the Ministry of Education ordered two Indigenous learning programs to move into the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District (SD84). Nanaimo News Now explains that, in May 2020, the organizations were ordered to transfer the Nisaika Kum’tuks Learning Centre and the Tsawalk Learning Centre from SD68 to SD84 by June 2021. Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre Executive Director Chris Beaton stated that the organizations are now concerned about staff employment, reduced budgets, and a lack of community consultation about the move, as well as the impact that these factors have on the students. “Right now, [students are] attending and succeeding. Once that becomes apparent, you can’t walk way from that,” said Beaton. “They’ve found something in these programs that connects for them and engages them in their learning. What more do we want for our young people?” The programs are trying to become independent schools, a process that reportedly comes with its own challenges. SD68 has convened a program transition committee to conduct meetings about the transfer of programs. Nanaimo News Now (BC)