Indigenous Top Ten

June 30, 2021

Anishnawbek Nation, BCcampus, FPCC, MLTC launch new educational resources and tools

Several new educational resources and tools have been launched this month to support students and teachers who wish to know more about Indigenous history, treaties, rights, languages, and culture. The Anishnawbek Nation celebrated the launch of an online educational resource called “Ezhi-Nawending: How Are We Related” for teaching elementary school students about First Nations history, treaties, and Aboriginal rights. The resource builds upon an existing elementary teacher’s kit that was released in 2015 and contains over 80 animations, videos, and other tools. BCcampus released a list of resources and actions for reconciliation that educators can take to better understand Indigenous history – particularly that of the residential school system – and support reconciliation. The Meadow Lake Tribal Council is working on nine Cree and Dene language apps that are informed by the nine Saskatchewan First Nations to help teach and preserve their languages. The First Peoples Cultural Council has published the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map, which details over 34 Indigenous languages and 360 artists and cultural groups across British Columbia. The map’s content was created and contributed to entirely by First Nations community members. Sudbury Star (Ezhi-Nawending) | BCcampus | Global News (MLTC) | Peace Arch News (FPCC) (National)

NS apologizes, removes high school correspondence course

The Nova Scotia Education Department has apologized and removed a high school course that included offensive and inappropriate content related to residential schools. The course asked students to list the benefits of residential schools and asked students to explain why unemployment, alcoholism, and poverty were “common” among First Nations. Mi’kmaw student Malaika Joudry-Martel said that she was saddened and hurt to see the material in her Grade 12 English correspondence course, especially given the recent confirmation of unmarked burial sites at residential schools. "[Other students would] be like, 'OK, well, here's a fact and this is true.' And so they'd be taking that with them, and then in the future, they'd still believe that because it would stay with them,” said Joudry-Martel, whose mother wrote a post on Facebook about the content that was later seen by NL Education Minister Derek Mombourquette. Mombourquette thanked the family for raising the issue and ordered a review of existing correspondence courses to ensure they meet provincial standards. Globe and Mail | Globe and Mail (2) | CBC (NS)

MacEwan receives Cree name for digital learning environment, signs partnership with NSD

MacEwan University’s new digital learning environment has been gifted a new name: paskwâwi-mostos mêskanâs, which means “plains Cree buffalo trails” in Cree. The name was chosen through a process that involved input from Information Technology, faculty members, library staff, the kihêwwaciston Indigenous Centre, and the president of MacEwan’s Indigenous Students Club. “Like the buffalo, our pursuit for knowledge can lead us down many paths, each path rich with information,” said MacEwan's Knowledge Keeper Roxanne Tootoosis. “This new system will act as our lead and protection like the buffalo, guiding us through new pathways of knowledge.” MacEwan also recently signed a five-year agreement with the Northland School Division to allow high school students to take INDG 100: Introduction to Indigenous Studies for free as a dual credit course. The course will be delivered remotely, and will give high school students in the region the opportunity to experience a university course. MacEwan states that the opportunity is intended to boost confidence, help students envision themselves taking postsecondary education, and increase graduation rates. MacEwan (1) | MacEwan (2) (AB)

NL researchers, educators work to dispel Mi’kmaw mercenary myth

Mi’maw researchers and educators are working to dispel a popular myth taught in Newfoundland and Labrador schools about the history of the Mi’kmaq. A ficticiousfictitious claim that the Mi’kmaq are not Indigenous to Newfoundland, but instead were brought by the French to kill the Beothuk was reportedly taught as fact in schools for several decades. CBC reports that NL elementary school textbooks from the 50s and 60s state the claim as fact, and that the mercenary myth has continued to be taught as recently as the mid-90s. Memorial University Indigenous education specialist and Mi’kmaw woman Kelly Anne Butler and Indigenous researcher Jerry Wetzel told CBC that researchers have tried for decades to find any evidence of the account. "The whole story about the French bringing Mi'kmaq to Newfoundland is completely untrue and unsubstantiated," explained Wetzel. "It... actually originated from [John] Peyton, who was one of the chief Beothuk killers, and he was just covering his own tracks." Butler and Wetzel explain how early English settlers benefitted from the lie, before discussing the damage the myth has done to the community. CBC (NL)

UAlberta North, YukonU, YK collaborate on Two-Eyed Seeing Research Program

The University of Alberta North, Yukon University, and the Government of Yukon will be collaborating on the Two-Eyed Seeing Research Program, thanks to the territory’s pledge of $700K in funding over the next four years. The program will braid Indigenous and western knowledge together while upholding Indigenous values and practices in research, training, and knowledge sharing. It will establish a Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge at YukonU; create a series of joint research activities; and provide various supports to each institution’s students, researchers, and land practitioners. “Relationships in research and education grounded in respect, reciprocity, and reconciliation are central to our mandate,” said Dr Fiona Schmiegelow, Director of UAlberta North. “We are committed to focusing on issues of priority to northern partners, amplifying the voices of Indigenous Knowledge-holders, and supporting northern students.” YukonU (YK | AB)

Ground broken on unique Indigenous Hub in Toronto to contain Miziwe Biik Training Institute

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for Ontario’s first Indigenous Hub in Toronto’s West Don Lands. The purpose-built hub is set on a 2.4 acre property and will be home to the Miziwe Biik Training Institute, Anishnawbe Health Toronto, and condominium and rental housing. The Training Institute will serve as the complex’s employment and education partner, and will contain a new early learning and childcare centre with space for 49 children. The training institute will house a carpentry workshop, tutoring classrooms, a business incubator, and a multi-purpose training centre. “The Miziwe Biik Training Institute is an opportunity to realize the full potential of the GTA's Indigenous community and provide the local population with the skills and credentials to attain good paying jobs,” said Nancy Martin, Executive Director of Miziwe Biik. “The Institute is an investment in the future prosperity of the Indigenous community living in the GTA and will contribute to Canada's economic recovery.” The five-building hub is expected to be completed in 2024. NewsWire | Urban Toronto | Daily Commercial News (ON)

ITK partners with NSERC to implement National Inuit Strategy on Research, celebrates launch of research projects

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) has partnered with NSERC to implement the National Inuit Strategy on Research. The partnership will see ITK and NSERC working together to “promote equitable research outcomes for Inuit in Canada, improve Inuit governance in research and support Inuit research training and capacity” through a work plan that will be co-developed. “The National Inuit Strategy on Research is a priority area and the foundation for a strong relationship between Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council,” said ITK President Natan Obed. “Together, we are committed to changing the research paradigm in Inuit Nunangat through advancement of a shared vision and roadmap to action.” Earlier this month, ITK and its partners – Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada and ArcticNet – celebrated the first 11 projects funded under the newly established Inuit Nunangut Research Program. The projects include studies of Arctic char, a water sampling project to establish baseline conditions, and a study of social interactions in the Inuvialuit settlement region to support prevention and management of infectious diseases like COVID-19. NSERC | Newswire | ArcticNet (Projects List) (National)

NorQuest, Indspire form $1M partnership to support Indigenous learners

NorQuest College and Indspire have formed a $1M partnership that will support Indigenous learners with financial need. Indigenous students who have financial need can access $5K in financial support for diploma or certificate programs at NorQuest. “Around 65 per cent of those enrolled in academic upgrading have First Nations status, but many take on this commitment with little in the way of external funding support,” said Tibetha Kemble, Senior Manager, Indigenous Relations & Support at NorQuest. “This partnership with Indspire opens up incredible possibilities for Indigenous learners and helps round out our efforts to make Indigenous learners feel welcomed, supported, and valued when they come to NorQuest.” Indspire also recently announced the recipients of the 2021 Indspire Awards, which celebrated outstanding Indigenous achievers from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities. NorQuest | Newswire (Indspire) (National)

UWinnipeg launches Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Languages degree path

The University of Winnipeg has announced that it is launching a new Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Languages degree path. The program will give students the knowledge and tools they will need to communicate, research, and advocate for Indigenous languages, and will provide students with opportunities to learn from Elders and knowledge keepers. Students who complete the degree path will be qualified to work in a variety of language revitalization areas, such as teaching, policy development, and curriculum development. “It makes a statement that our languages are important enough to have a program,” said UWinnipeg Indigenous Academic Lead Dr Lorena Fontaine. “Being able to tell those children, whose ancestral language is Cree, that there is a language program at The University of Winnipeg that they can go to one day is really empowering.” UWinnipeg says this program is the first of its kind in Manitoba. UWinnipeg (MB)

Leaders, QC teachers call for reset on way Indigenous history is taught in K-12

First Nations leaders and history teachers in Quebec are calling for changes to the way Indigenous history is taught in primary and secondary schools across the province. “In the (history) program, it’s only the federal government that is responsible for the residential schools,” said high school history teacher Jonathan St-Pierre in a recent interview. “We minimize and forget that Quebec was part of this, too. The government, the church, Quebecers also took part in this, but the information is missing.” QC’s history curriculum reportedly allows teachers to choose how much importance to place on Indigenous history, which St Pierre says results in discrepancies in how much QC students know about First Nations peoples. QC spent $1.6M in 2018 to modify Indigenous content in history textbooks, such as replacing stereotypical images or adding biographies of Indigenous historical figures, but Global News reports that the textbooks still only mention residential schools in passing. “When we teach our history to our children with our own voices, and our own stories, we show that the colonial project has not succeeded and that we remain strong,” said Sarah Pashagumskum, chairperson of the Cree School Board. “It allows us to move our students toward a forward-looking and more empowered state, where they are fully informed about their past and how their present has been constructed.” Global News (QC)