Indigenous Top Ten

April 7, 2021

AB unveils new curriculum, education community expresses concerns

The Government of Alberta has released a new draft elementary school curriculum that has received criticism from members of the education community. Everything GP reports that the draft curriculum will see students begin to learn about First Nations treaties in Grade 4 social studies, while the history of residential schools will begin in Grade 5. Cree Elder Betty Letendre, who was part of a working group of five elders tasked with reviewing the Indigenous portions of Alberta’s new K-6 curriculum, says that she cannot endorse the curriculum at this time. “The work in this curriculum has to continue,” said Elder Betty Letendre, who told Global News that the curriculum is missing pieces of Indigenous history. “The final draft of this curriculum will not be finalized until 2022,” said AB Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, “so we have lots of opportunity to hear from Albertans and hear what is important to them.” In the Northwest Territories, where the education system has used portions of AB’s K-12 curriculum and exams since the 1970s, Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya says it is time for the territory to create its own curriculum. With children already struggling to find themselves in the education system, “it’s time that we step up and take ownership of our education,” he told CBC. CBC (AB) | Global News | Everything GP | CBC (NWT) (AB)

UBCO launches Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency program designed with NVIT, En’owkin

The University of British Columbia Okanagan has announced the launch of a Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency (BNLF) program, which was created collaboratively with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and the En’owkin Centre. It aims to produce fluent speakers of Nsyilxcn who have a deep understanding of the language, culture, and customs. Students in the four-year program spend two years completing a certificate and diploma in Nsyilxcn Language Fluency at NVIT before spending two years completing the program at UBCO. “To study in your language and your knowledge systems, which many English speakers take for granted, is not there for Indigenous peoples,” said Dr Jeannette Armstrong, UBCO associate professor of Indigenous Studies and BNLF academic lead. “UBC Okanagan is at the cutting edge in making that breakthrough—it’s a powerful statement of reconciliation.” Armstrong says the program is one of the first in the world to offer a degree program in an Indigenous language. UBC | The Star (CP) | NVIT (BC)

NWT launches online tracker of educational improvement process

The Government of the Northwest Territories has launched a new online tracker for the educational improvement process, which tracks progress towards 30 action items. These action items include the creation of a JK-12 Indigenous Language Instructor Employment Plan, the development of a 3-year pilot Indigenous Language Diploma, and the modernization of the Education Act in consultation with stakeholders such as Indigenous Governments. Through the tracker, the public can access deliverables, timelines, and progress on each action item. “How we deliver equitable education in the NWT is critical for ensuring the development of accomplished, capable Northerners,” said Education Minister RJ Simpson. “The GNWT is committed to improving the NWT education system, in partnership with education bodies, Indigenous governments, communities, educators, families and students, who all have a role to play in improving educational outcomes.” Three of the items have been completed to date, and NWT told NNSL that the remaining 27 are on track for completion. NNSL | NWT (Tracker) (NWT)

Elsipogtog First Nation Education Authority, Canada sign Regional Education Agreement

Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock and the Government of Canada Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller announced the signing of a Regional Education Agreement (REA) with Elsipogtog First Nation Education Authority. The signing is reportedly the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada. The agreement formalizes the partnership and funding arrangement between the education authority and Canada, and additionally commits both parties to exploring ways to improve education outcomes and address funding needs for the students of the First Nation. “It is with great pride and satisfaction that I acknowledge our Education team in achieving REA status. This allows us to develop our education program in a manner which addresses the needs of our students and provides sustainable, predictable funding through our partnership with Canada.” In the coming weeks and months, Elsipogtog First Nation will establish an education structure that will support cultural connections and diversity, respond to the unique needs of First Nations students, and promote success for all. Nation Talk (NB)

TRU receives donation from Sisters of Saint Ann to support Indigenous nursing students

Thompson Rivers University has received a $150K donation from the Sisters of Saint Ann to create a new endowment fund in the School of Nursing for Indigenous nursing students. The fund will support the creation of an award for practicum students who accept placements in First Nations, Inuit, or Métis communities, as well as supporting mentoring, the Elder in the House program, and other projects. “We have a long and enduring connection to Kamloops, dating back more than a century and rooted in our founding commitments to education and health care in rural areas,” said Sister Marie Zarowny, president and board chair. “Since our arrival in Victoria in 1858, our Sisters have fostered the educational goals of members of Indigenous communities and in more recent years sought ways to contribute to the process of healing, understanding and reconciliation. We are delighted to be able to support students at TRU through this endowment fund.” CBC | CFJC Today (BC)

Lakehead Bora Laskin launches Maamawi Bimosewag, expands law program

Lakehead University has announced that its Bora Laskin Faculty of Law will be launching the Maamawi Bimosewag – They Walk Together Indigenous Law and Justice institute – and expanding its law program. The changes are supported by over $437K from the Government of Canada Department of Justice. The institute will contribute to the university’s efforts in meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action #50 and will focus on three pillars: building and sustaining relationships, land-based learning, and a lively research environment. “It is also a recognition of our unique position in the legal education landscape as a northern law school committed to Indigenous peoples, lands and interests, and we thank the Department of Justice, Lakehead University and the Indigenous partners that continue to support us,” said Robin Sutherland, the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law’s Director of Indigenous Relations. Lakehead (ON)

How an Indigenous support worker is helping students, staff across SD 44: CUPE

Dallas Guss, a member of Squamish Nation, brings cultural teachings to his work as an educational assistant, Indigenous support worker, and cultural support worker at School District 44. CUPE BC describes how Guss’s work is helping to Indigenize schools and improve understanding between Indigenous students and their teachers. “This role has been really successful in helping teachers understand the Indigenous perspective, so that there can be less conflict, issues, or problems,” explained Guss. “I encourage [students] to have their own space and build their own problem-solving skills.” The article further describes how Guss has taken other District 44 staff and students into the mountains, into a longhouse, and to traditional sites; shared cultural teachings; and shared Indigenous stories for the curriculum to help students cope with the difficult times during the pandemic. CUPE BC (BC)

Laurentian community calls for protection of Indigenous Studies

Faculty, Indigenous community leaders, and other members of the Indigenous education community have called on decision makers in the Laurentian University insolvency process to ensure the continuation of the Indigenous Studies program. An open letter published by CAUT points to the program’s history as one of the three founding departments of Indigenous Studies in North America and its many contributions to decolonization, Indigenous self-determination, and Indigenous sovereignty. “The termination of the Indigenous Studies program in Sudbury at Laurentian would represent a significant turning away from Laurentian University’s Tri Cultural Mandate and its commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action on Indigenous Education,” assert the signatories. The Laurentian University Native Education Council has also expressed concern about the University of Sudbury’s possible step away from its mandate to offer the program. “We need to be part of that conversation. We need to have a voice there,” stated LUNEC Member Roxanne Manitowabi. “It’s the right thing to do, to be respectful and to have those conversations.” CAUT (Open Letter) | CBC (LUNEC) | The Sudbury Star (ON)

Iqaluit prepares to enforce Inuktut requirements, councillor envisions application in schools

Iqaluit city councillors are preparing a plan that will help institutions and businesses in the city comply with the territory’s Inuktut requirements. Under the territory’s Inuit Language Protection Act, Inuktut must be incorporated into businesses’ signage and products. While the current law is a part of the city’s business licensing bylaws, Councillor Joansie Akumalik stated that he wants to see a plan that addresses signs in places such as schools. “Inuktitut use would better improve communication and education for those who don’t understand, read or write English,” said Akumalik, who suggested the use of Inuktut syllabics for general signs such as entry and exit doors and washrooms. Nunatsiaq Online (NV)

USask, Sask Polytech, NITHA partner on accredited dental therapy program

The University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) have partnered to establish an accredited dental therapy program. The program, which USask says is the only one of its kind in Canada, will train students to become dental therapists in remote communities. The program will focus on recruiting Indigenous students, training students in the areas they are live, and developing career paths for dental aides and dental assistants through a laddering model. “This has been a high priority for our Board of Chiefs and we are excited to collaborate towards improving the oral health of Indigenous Peoples in the province, a vision that we all share,” said Tara Campbell, NITHA executive director. “This marks as a new beginning for dental therapy education in Canada.” Sask Polytech | USask (SK)