Indigenous Top Ten

April 21, 2021

Canada invests $150M in better ventilation for schools, other public buildings in Indigenous communities

The Government of Canada has announced that it will be investing $150M in better ventilation for public buildings in Indigenous communities such as schools and hospitals. The funding will be used for projects that will decrease the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 by assessing, monitoring, and improving ventilation and indoor air quality. Communities will be able to access upgrades or conversions of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, as well as community-based solutions. “The health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples is my department’s highest priority,” said Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services. “This new investment will aid First Nations communities and partners in the fight against COVID-19 by funding critical ventilation upgrades to infrastructure most susceptible to COVID-19 spread.” NewsWire (National)

Future Skills Centre invests $32M in 64 projects

Future Skills Centre has announced that it will invest $32M in 64 innovative projects across Canada that are intended to “shock-proof” the workforce and strengthen the economy in the future. The projects focus on Indigenous innovations, untried innovations, projects with rural and remote reach, new technologies, and building an inclusive workforce. They include an immersive training program focused on reforestation and reclamation developed by NAIT for remote and First Nations and Métis communities; a project to better understand changes in Indigenous labour markets led by Fleming College; and a project focused on building local capacity for monitoring climate change in the Northwest Territories that involves the Université de Montréal, Wilfrid Laurier University, Carleton University, Dehcho First Nations, the North Slave Métis Alliance, and several other partners. “As we look forward to a world post-recovery, we know that a dynamic skills agenda will be central to Canada’s success in a constantly-changing labour market,” said Pedro Barata, FSC Executive Director. “These pan-Canadian partnerships will be real-time, applied examples to help design new skills development approaches that allow Canadian workers and businesses to seize opportunities in our future economy.” FSC | NAIT | Fleming | Mirage News (NWT) (National)

Richmond secures approval for preferential hiring, layoff protections for Indigenous teachers

School District 38, the Richmond School District, is reportedly the first community in British Columbia to offer both preferential hiring and layoff protection for teachers that identify as Indigenous. While hiring normally cannot use specialized criteria, the province’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner has given approval to the special program which will allow the district to offer preferential hiring for teachers who self-identify as Indigenous. The program, which was initiated by the Richmond Teachers’ Association (RTA), aims to increase the number of Indigenous educators within the district. Laura Buchanan, SD38’s executive director of human resources, explained that the program will give “pathways and opportunities” for people with Indigenous ancestry to enter the teaching profession while additionally benefitting Indigenous students. “I think Richmond should be proud of the work that we have done in this area, and that we are in fact the first to receive this approval,” said Richmond Teachers Association president Liz Baverstock. The program has been given five year approval. The Star | Richmond News (BC)

NWT considers adopting BC school curriculum

The Northwest Territories has hinted that it is considering adopting British Columbia’s school curriculum since receiving the Government of Alberta’s updates to the provincial curriculum. Cabin Radio explains that since NWT is too small to create its own curriculum, it has been adapting AB’s curriculum to fit its needs, but that the NWT has not been an active partner in the curriculum’s development since 2019 due to the change in AB’s government. Education officials reviewed curriculum from AB, BC, MB, and SK. BC’s curriculum scored highly on the use of a competency-based curriculum and the availability of large-scale assessment tools, and demonstrated close alignment with NWT’s priorities. The article says that though the decision has not been made yet, BC has been “very receptive” to the NWT’s inquiries and that the switch to BC curriculum would be advantageous in terms of stability. Cabin Radio (NWT)

BC announces $15M investment into training and education, $1M for emergency funding

The Government of British Columbia has announced funding to support Indigenous peoples in British Columbia looking to access education or skills training for in-demand jobs, as well as additional emergency funding for Indigenous postsecondary students in BC. The province announced a $15M investment into training and educational opportunities for 1700 Indigenous people through organizations such as the First Nations Education Steering Committee and Métis Nation British Columbia. The funding will help to create opportunities through short-term training, community-based skills training, micro-credentials, and more. Across a series of regional announcements, BC also announced a total of $1M for 2021 through the Indigenous Emergency Fund. “This emergency financial assistance provides an important safety net for students to ensure they have the funds to focus on continuing their education,” said Anne Kang, BC Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. BC (Metro Vancouver) | Nation Talk (BC)

CBC highlights program aimed at preserving Indigenous history

CBC has published an article on the First Nations Archeology Monitoring Training Program, a unique program offered by the Oneida Nation of the Thames. The five-day course is focused on preserving Indigenous history and covers archeological monitoring regulations and protocols, identification of artifacts, and field methods. "It's really important that our communities are involved in getting out there to those locations because for a long time, archeological development hasn't acknowledged or respected Indigenous culture and artifacts, and has put it at a lower value than other artifacts in the region, such as European artifacts," said Brandon Doxtator, environment and consultation coordinator with the Oneida Nation of the Thames. "It's important that our community members review these archeological assessments and hold those proponents to account." CBC (ON)

New training for police, health professionals working with indigenous communities

Institutions in Quebec and Ontario are incorporating new training that focuses on communicating and working with minority and Indigenous people. In Quebec, the province’s Higher Education Ministry has announced the gradual addition of 45 hours of training focused on minority groups to the curriculum covered by police technology students. The Montreal Gazette states that the training will help to improve how officers effectively communicate, understand, and intervene with the province’s racialized, ethnic, and Indigenous communities in both urban settings or in First Nations or Inuit communities. In Ontario, the University of Toronto and Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health (WBIIH) are collaborating on the creation of two cultural safety courses to prepare health professionals to work with Indigenous people. The courses will be held online, and researchers will evaluate trainees for changes in their behaviour after completing the training. Montreal Gazette | NationTalk (QC | ON)

USask researcher receives $2.5M for nehiyaw wicihitwin (Cree helping Cree) program

University of Saskatchewan researcher Dr Holly Graham has received $2.5M to implement the nehiyaw wicihitwin (Cree helping Cree) crime prevention program. The program will support 10- to 19-year-old students on the Little Pine and Poundmaker First Nations and their families by using traditional conflict resolution strategies, restorative justice, workshops, traditional rites of passage, and individual counselling. “I see it as a holistic wellness plan that includes reclaiming indigeneity—supporting the original family structure, bringing people together to create positive outcomes,” said Graham, who is a member of the Thunderchild First Nation and holds USask’s Indigenous Research Chair in Nursing. Graham added that the project is community-driven. NationTalk (SK)

Laurentian, USudbury sign interim deal around Indigenous studies courses

Laurentian University and the University of Sudbury have signed an interim agreement that will see Laurentian teach six Indigenous studies courses during the spring term. Moving forward, the university stated that it is committed to ensuring that the students registered in USudbury’s Indigenous studies program will have access to courses rooted in Indigenous perspectives currently offered by Laurentian. Earlier this month, Laurentian announced the termination of its federation agreement with USudbury, Huntington University, and Thorneloe University. At that time, instructor Tasha Beeds (Plains Cree and Métis) expressed concern to The Star about Laurentian’s inability to mirror what USudbury has offered: a School of Indigenous Studies that is built for and by Indigenous people, with programming that has grown out of the community. The Sudbury Star | The Star (ON)

Miyoopimatishihk (Wellbeing) Program offers support for Métis families

The Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Education has announced the Miyoopimatishihk (Wellbeing) Program, which will offer early childhood development supports for Métis families with children from birth to eight through funding from Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC). Métis families will be able to apply for up to $5K of services per child, which includes services such as respite care, speech therapy, assessments, mental health support, and educational and cultural support. “There are many inequities that exist for our Métis children, and the Miyoopimatishihk (Wellbeing) Program will address these inequities,” said Debra Fisher, MNBC’s Minister of Education. “The program was developed by listening to our Métis families and their stories. The Ministry of Education turned their stories into actions, and this program is for them.” NationTalk (BC)