Indigenous Top Ten

March 24, 2021

Canada, NV, NTI agree to strengthen Inuktut education in territory

The Government of Canada, Government of Nunavut, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated have signed an MOU to strengthen Inuktut education in the territory. The agreement is focused on several goals, including increasing access to Inuktut-language instruction, increasing and maintaining the number of Inuktut-speaking educators, creating supports for educators, and supporting the Uqariuqsatittijit Initiative and innovative measures for Inuktut education and educators. Canada has reaffirmed its commitment to invest $42M over five years, and Newswire states that an additional funding of $12.3M has come from the Nunavut Implementation Panel Article 23 fund in order to help pursue a representative Inuit workforce. “It is through shared vision and coordinated approaches that we will strengthen and revitalize Inuktut in our territory,” said NV Minister of Culture and Heritage Margaret Nakashuk. “I look forward to more initiatives through the Nunavut Partnership Table on Language and Education to ensure the long-term success of our language.” Newswire (NV)

Contact North BC to create 20 local learning centres

Contact North BC has announced the creation of 20 local learning centres in northern British Columbia to provide on-site support to students who live in remote areas. The provincial government has provided $1.5M of funding for the project. Students will be able to take any BC public college or university course that is offered online while receiving face-to-face and online supports from the centres. NationTalk explains that Indigenous students will especially benefit from the program as it will increase access to programs and academic options while allowing students to remain within their communities. “First Nations education leaders in our region have requested that we provide more academic options to their students, while allowing them to remain in their home communities,” said Justin Kohlman, president of Coast Mountain College. “This program gives every student in one of these communities the opportunity to take any online offering in the province while knowing they will have quality technology and local staff to support them.” Nation Talk (BC)

Yukon First Nations calls for IEP education program to be reinstated to former format

Yukon First Nations have called for the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) education program to be reinstated to its pre-October 2020 format for students. APTN News reports that IEPs are legislated documents protected in the Yukon Education Act, and that these programs guarantee that students receive the supports they require, like educational assistants, occupational therapy, or supplementary aids and services. The Government of Yukon’s Department of Education announced changes to the assessment criteria for the IEP program in 2019, which came into effect in 2020. Data from the Yukon First Nations Education Directorate found that the number of First Nations students on IEPs dropped from 337 to 172 in the 2020-21 year. “Those are legislated documents and it was clear in the Auditor General’s report that teachers were unable to meet those needs or the criteria of those legislated documents,” said Melanie Bennett, executive director of the YFNED. “Our concern from the directorate is that we’re putting the students at risk when we’re making those decisions.” APTN News (YK)

“We found a way:” Virtual pow wows hosted by schools

Several schools have hosted their pow wows virtually in order to continue annual traditions and bring the community together. Bow Valley College recently celebrated its annual Indigenous Awareness Month by working with over 110 independent Indigenous peoples and Indigenous-serving organizations to create the Collective Wellness Pow Wow on March 20th. The Lakehead University Native Students Association (LUNSA) broadcast its annual powwow celebration through YouTube and Facebook. Canadore College worked with Wolf Eyes Productions and members of the Canadore Aboriginal Student Association and First Peoples’ Centre to hold its 31st annual Pow Wow. “We had to abide by the COVID policies, and the logistics were totally different from a live powwow,” admitted organizer Gerard Peltier. “We found a way.” BVC | Nugget (Canadore) | Lakehead (LUNSU) (National)

FNUniv MISW program receives four-year reaccreditation

The First Nations University of Canada’s Master of Indigenous Social Work (MISW) Program has been granted a four-year reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation and the Canadian Association for Social Work Education. The program prepares students to become clinical practitioners who understand First Nations and Métis communities’ issues and are specifically skilled in First Nations approaches to therapy. FNUniv states that the program met the accreditation standards with two conditions that must be addressed within the term. “The INSW Faculty takes great pride in receiving an additional 4yrs of accreditation for the MISW program,” said Dr Jason Albert, Indigenous Social Work Program Chair at FNUniv. “The MISW is in a great position and this can be attributed to all the hard work from everyone involved.” The accreditation period will extend from February 1, 2021 to January 31, 2025. Nation Talk (SK)

MB Bill 64 generates mixed reactions, concerns about Indigenous education

The Government of Manitoba’s proposed new legislation, Bill 64, and the “Better Education Starts Today” strategy, have drawn mixed reactions from advocates and educational representatives from across the province. The bill would see the 37 English school divisions dissolved and the schools grouped by regional catchments to be overseen by a provincial education authority. The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) stated that the proposed changes could have a disproportionately negative impact on communities, including First Nation students, and that the Bill does not address the systemic issues that First Nation students face every day. “My concern in amalgamating all the school divisions under one umbrella is that we’re going to lose Indigenous education as a priority, because we know that not every school division sees Indigenous education as a priority” said Indspire Vice-President of Programs and Student Success Rebecca Chartrand, who is Anishinaabe from Pine Creek First Nation. Helen Settee, director of Manitoba Education’s Indigenous Inclusion Directorate, said that plans to improve student achievement are in development and that she is optimistic that the changes to the education system will lead to better outcomes for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. Nation Talk | CBC (MB)

UTM, Redbird Circle Inc launch Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program

The University of Toronto Mississauga, in partnership with Redbird Circle Inc, has launched the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program. The program will provide support to Indigenous students and alumni from all three U of T campuses. “The Indigenous approach to business is not usually about scalability, going public and making short-term profit,” said Christina Tachtampa of Redbird. “They tend to be solo-preneurs who are focused on serving their local communities.” The training uses the medicine wheel as a teaching tool, and students will build foundational knowledge in lessons about personal development, healing, reconciliation, and community building, before using the knowledge in a venture or community project-creation. “The history of oppression of Indigenous Peoples in Canada creates unique challenges for their participation in entrepreneurship, and we hope this program will help level the playing field,” says Ignacio Mongrell, assistant director of ICUBE. UTM (ON)

16 Indigenous youth take part in treaty simulation experience to learn about negotiations

The Gordon Foundation, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition, and the BC Treaty Commission recently organized a four-day online treaty simulation experience where 16 Indigenous youth participated in treaty negotiations. The experience saw the participants take turns negotiating the education chapter of a self-government agreement between a fictitious First Nation and the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories. The participants were joined by advisers such as John B Zoe, former chief land claims negotiator who helped establish the Tłı̨chǫ Government. “Everything moves so quickly,” said participant Rayna Vittrekwa of Fort McPherson in the Northwest Territories, who is now encouraging other youth to sign up for the next session. “I thought it would be really interesting and vital for not just me, but others to be there and be educated and have practice in treaty situations. I wanted to be prepared for any future nation meeting.” CBC (National)

ULethbridge includes Indigenous course requirement in core business degree

The University of Lethbridge’s Dhillon School of Business has announced that it will be including an Indigenous course requirement for students completing its core business degree. The requirement was implemented in response to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and will also ensure that business students have adequate knowledge of Indigenous issues. “Business students used to be able to operate without knowledge of Indigenous history or governance, but this has changed,” said Don McIntyre, a Dhillon School of Business professor and researcher and a member of the Wolf Clan from Lake Timiskaming First Nation. “We’re now seeing instances where businesses are failing because they don’t have the subsequent knowledge of the people and land they’re trying to grow their business with and on.” ULethbridge (AB)

Conestoga’s Be-Dah-Bin Gamik offers free Indigenous language nights

Conestoga College’s Aboriginal Services (Be-Dah-Bin Gamik) has launched free online language nights that are open to the public. The workshops are available three times a week in both Ojibwe and Inuktitut, and are led by Elders and members of the community. Be-Dah-Bin Gamik has also announced a virtual conference at the end of the month that will feature singers, singing, dancing, and storytelling to celebrate Ojibwe and Inuit culture. “We try to revive a lot of our ceremonies and cultures and include them in the education we deliver,” said Myeengun Henry, manager of Aboriginal Services. “The language nights invite people to come and learn while bringing communities together and introducing others to languages they probably are not used to hearing.” Conestoga (ON)