Indigenous Top Ten

May 19, 2021

Grand Council Treaty #3, Canada, ON sign MOU to improve education for First Nations students

Grand Council Treaty #3, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario have successfully concluded the negotiation of a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding that supports First Nations control of education to improve student success in Northwestern Ontario.The partnership will help create a better education system for the over 1,300 First Nations students who live in Treaty #3 territory and the 17 First Nations in Ontario who have signed the agreement. Canada and ON have invested $1.16M and $300K respectively to support Grand Council Treaty #3 as they implement the agreement. “Ensuring that our educators and knowledge keepers have the opportunities they need to develop better education systems is essential to revitalizing our language and culture and creating better outcomes for our students,” said Grand Council Treat #3 Grand Chief Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh. Canada (ON)

UWinnipeg celebrates opening of Aabijijiwan New Media Lab, Kishadigeh Collaborative Research Centre

The University of Winnipeg has announced the recent opening of the Aabijijiwan New Media Lab and the Kishadigeh Collaborative Research Centre, which span over 4,000 square feet inside Richardson College. The spaces will provide new opportunities for learning, skills training, and development for Indigenous youth. The Aabijijiwan New Media Lab houses four different spaces with unique production focuses, which includes a technology-based workspaces, an interactive lab, a maker space and artists in residence. “The Aabijijiwan New Media Lab will develop original research using Indigenous methodologies of embodied and cultural knowledge, integrating theory and practice into design and new media, and tracing the application of digital and new technologies,” explained lab director Dr Julie Nagam. The Kishadigeh Collaborative Research Centre is a learning space that is able to host workshops, events, and intergenerational knowledge transmission. “I’m excited and proud of this new Indigenous space on campus, which will showcase Indigenous ways of knowing and doing and be a welcoming place for community,” said centre co-director Dr Jaimie Cidro. “I’m especially looking forward to inviting our Indigenous community partners to the space for ongoing collaboration and research to engage with the questions that matter most to them.” UWinnipeg (MB)

SOSS uses EPIC program to improve student attendance, experience

Southern Okanagan Secondary School, located in Syilx/Okanagan territory and a part of School District 53, is finding success in the use of the Experiential, Project-based, Indigenous and Community (EPIC) program to strengthen connections with Indigenous students and boost attendance. “We noticed that our Aboriginal students were dropping out of school and not graduating. So we wanted to try and engage them more,” says Ryan Baptiste, who is Syilx and a member of the Osooyoos Indian Band. Baptiste has taught the EPIC program at SOSS since its launch in 2015. “I try to make it an experiential learning experience for them to show what they’ve learned in different ways. For some students, it allows them to show different strengths that they haven’t been able to showcase.” The Discourse describes how students have been able to apply their learnings in project-based classes and reconnect with their Indigenous roots. As one example, students spent several classes creating drum frames, attaching rawhides, and doing a dreamcatcher-style weave with sinew into the frames. Baptiste explained that the project involved polygons and shapes, as well as opportunities to look at angles and surface areas. Non-Indigenous students also shared the learnings they had taken away from the program. The Discourse (BC)

Acadia student creates lab to share traditional Mi’kmaw knowledge

Acadia University student Leah Creaser, member of the Acadia First Nation, has created a lab to share Mi’kmaw traditional knowledge with first-year biology students. Creaser noticed her first-year lab on plant identification did not include information on Mi’kmaq use of the plants, and Professor Juan Carlos López invited her to create a lab based on Mi’kmaw traditional knowledge as part of a research assignment. As she developed the lab, Creaser joined Acadia First Nation Councillor Jeff Purdy on teaching walks to learn more about native plants and their significance. The lab has since become a core part of Acadia’s required biology course. The lab gives information on the Mi’kma’ki, medicines made from the plants, their identification, and plant names in Mi’kmaw and English. “I ... did it for every Indigenous student who’s sitting in those seats because we need to see more of that,” said Creaser. “There needs to be the acknowledgement, the meaningful acknowledgement.” CBC (NS)

Canada ISC, FNEC sign MOU to guide development of regional education agreement

The Minister of Indigenous Services Canada and the Chiefs' Committee of the First Nations Education Council of Quebec (FNEC) have reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will guide the development of a regional education agreement and its associated financial framework. The agreement is part of a transformation of education programs to meet First Nations’ objectives and priorities, improve educational outcomes for First Nations Youth, and provide First Nations with greater control over education. "One more step toward the common achievement of a change that fully supports the control of First Nations' education by and for First Nations in Quebec, as envisioned by the Chiefs in the early 1970s,” said Gesgapegiag Chief John Martin, “A step toward a regional agreement on education based on the real and specific needs of the FNEC member communities in order to ensure the necessary means for present and future generations to reach their full potential and to blossom in the pride of their culture and identity." Canada (QC)

Newly published research article explores Métis women in Canadian higher ed

Bryanna Scott of Lakehead University recently published an article on Métis women’s experiences in Canadian higher education in the research journal Genealogy. In the article, Scott explains that there is a gap in the literature around Métis students’ experiences in higher education and that Métis pedagogies are often “hidden or do not exist within higher and mainstream education systems.” She explores the concepts of identity, institutional practices, and reconciliation as described by Métis women from a specific region of Canada; and shares a conceptual framework called “Métissage-as-reconciliation" that is inclusive of elements such as Métis identity, student support services, and instructor competence embedded in reconciliation. “Métis people and institutions are aware that there is a great deal of work to be done within higher education to achieve the diversity, equity, and inclusion that the Métis people seek within the academy,” concludes Scott. “Weaving the sash together requires Métis people and the academy to build relationships, founded on respect and reciprocity, that are generative and infinite.” MDPI (ON)

Yellowhead Tribal College to improve STEM facilities

Yellowhead Tribal College will be receiving funding from the Government of Canada to improve its STEM facilities. The funding will allow the college to take on a variety of upgrades, such as widening a classroom and lab, as well as installing exhaust fans, air ducts, fume hoods, and new flooring. The upgrades will benefit students and are expected to increase completion in the STEM fields. “Not only does this project build on the foundation of the spirit of Treaty No. 6; it is a collaborative enterprise for the benefit of current and future students,” said Chief Tony Alexis of the Yellowhead Tribal Development Foundation. “A safe place to learn, cognitively, spiritually and physically, is created by this project. Creating change by including the First Nations’ way of knowing, it also provides opportunities to engage with Elders in a science lab.” Canada (AB)

Students learn Mi'kmaw traditions through cooking class

A cooking class at Summerside Intermediate School is teaching students how to prepare Mi’kmaw traditional foods such as corn cakes and succotash. The class is led by John Doran, who is Mi’kmaw, a Sixties Scoop survivor, and assistant professor of Indigenous education at the University of Prince Edward Island. The students cook the meals together and enjoy the feast of traditional food together afterwards. “I hope they go home and show their families. It's so important that people know about this,” said Doran. “And what better way to learn than by eating?" The students told CBC expressed how much they enjoyed the class and how they hope to be able to help keep the traditional recipes alive. "It was meaningful to me because I'm Mohawk. We don't have a lot of recipes in my family, but it was good to see other cultures still holding onto theirs and other tribes still holding on to their culinary [traditions]," said student Kennah Brant. "I love my culture … so I really appreciated this." CBC (PE)

MNBC, BCIT issue joint statement in response to staff email

The British Columbia Institute of Technology has issued a joint statement with the Métis Nation of British Columbia (MNBC) and publicly apologized after an email was sent by a BCIT employee expressing an opinion “that was offensive and hurtful to members of the Métis Nation.” In the statement, BCIT stated that the institution took the complaint very seriously and that they had investigated and addressed the issue internally. MNBC CEO and Deputy Minister Daniel Fontaine told the Vancouver Sun and CityNews 1130 that MNBC is calling for an independent review of the incident and has put under review an annual funding program for Métis students attending the school. BCIT issued an update expressing disappointment that the MNBC had “chosen to press beyond their previously agreed joint statement and apology;” as well as expressing support for its evolving Indigenous Initiatives team and community’s significant progress on a journey to awareness and understanding around truth, Indigenization, and reconciliation. BCIT (Joint Statement) | CityNews 1130 | Vancouver Sun | BCIT (Update) (BC)