Indigenous Top Ten

July 14, 2021

Provinces, territories called on to revamp curriculum to include Indigenous history, languages

Several provinces have received new or renewed pressure to revise their curricula to better reflect Indigenous culture, history, and/or languages. In New Brunswick, the provincial history and social sciences curricula have been criticized for being Eurocentric in their content, as well as outdated and insufficient. "I don't think [the current curriculum] gives them the foundation to clearly understand how learning about the past helps them make sense of the world they're living in,” said STU History department chair Karen Robert. NB has announced that it is working on a history curriculum, with hopes that the high school history curriculum will be available in two years. Reflecting on the recent discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools, First Nations leaders and history teachers in Quebec have called for meaningful history curriculum changes. QC Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière said that reforms to history courses were coming, but did not supply a timeline for expected changes. In Ontario, the Minister of Education announced the province’s history curriculum would be expanded to include “lived experiences,” but Global News reports that some stakeholders have questioned the decision given the cancelled curriculum rewrite in 2018. In Nunavut, several members of the community, including students and teachers, are encouraging the creation of a made-in-Nunavut curriculum, which Coalition of Nunavut DEA Executive Director James Arreak says must be taught by Inuit teachers who can teach in Inuktut. CBC (QC) | Global News (ON) | CBC (NV) | CBC (NB) (National)

Fanshawe launches the Oneida - Language Immersion, Culture and Teaching diploma

Fanshawe College is launching a diploma program called Oneida - Language Immersion, Culture and Teaching, which aims to preserve the Oneida language and reverse its decline. The program will teach students fluency in the Oneida language with the goal of producing graduates who have the ability to teach, translate, and tell stories in the language. The three-year program will take in around 20 students each year, and is open to students from all walks of life and backgrounds. Hubert Antone, who grew up speaking only Oneida, explained that at present only around 20 people in the Oneida of the Thames community can speak and understand Oneida. “If we lose the language now, we’re going to lose another part of our culture,” said Antone. CBC (ON)

Coral Harbour school, Thunder Bay Public Library receive support to enhance literacy, spaces

Coral Harbour’s Sakku School and the Thunder Bay Public Library have received support that will help support literacy and create an Indigenous-centred space. Coral Harbour’s Sakku School has received $20K from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation to overhaul its library. The school will use the funds to invest in Inuktitut books, e-readers, audio books, and community programming with the aim of helping increase literacy. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to fill the shelves with culturally relevant books,” said Rose Lipton, the executive director of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. Sheridan College has partnered with Indigenous patrons at the Thunder Bay Public Library to design furniture for the library’s Indigenous Knowledge Centre. Other furniture items in the Centre, —such as children’s stools, benches, and a podium— were also designed to incorporate Indigenous world views and values. “All furniture and design has cultural values in it, and so what this project has done is create an alternative to what might be standard,” said Samantha Martin-Bird, the former community hub librarian for Indigenous relationships. Nunatsiaq News | CBC (ON | NV)

BC provides $2.9M to PSE, community organization in support of literacy programs

The Government of British Columbia has announced over $2.9M in supports for Community Adult Literacy Programs (CALP) across the province in 2021/22. The funding will support 97 literacy programs that are developed and provided for free by community organizations, Indigenous-led organizations, and public postsecondary institutions. 16 postsecondary institutions in the province have received funding: Camosun College, Capilano University, Coast Mountain College, the College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, North Island College, Northern Lights College, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Okanagan College, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Thompson Rivers University, University of the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Community College, and Vancouver Island University. Nation Talk | BC (Backgrounder) (BC)

Ontario Tech announces naming of newest building Shawenjigewining Hall

Ontario Tech University has announced the naming of its newest building, Shawenjigewining Hall, to honour kindness and friendship. The name Shawenjigewining is an Anishinaabe word that means “The Kind Place,” and a plaque bearing the name, meaning, and a picture of a deer will be permanently displayed in the front foyer of the building to commemorate the event. The name was announced at a traditional Indigenous naming ceremony which followed Indigenous protocols, including lighting a sacred fire, smudging, an honour song, a pipe ceremony, and a water blessing. “I am grateful to all those involved in holding Ontario Tech’s first Indigenous naming ceremony,” said Catherine Davidson, Co-chair of the President’s Indigenous Reconciliation Task Force at Ontario Tech. “Choosing an Indigenous name for the building reflects the university’s commitment to work towards reconciliation and celebrates Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing.” Ontario Tech (ON)

New Indigenous murals created at schools across BC, YK

Several new murals have appeared at schools and educational spaces across British Columbia and the Yukon. At the Wickaninnish Community School in Tofino, 13 food murals have been hung in the school’s garden with the Nuu-chah-nulth words of plants and animals. The murals serve as a reminder that the garden is located on Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s hahoulthee, known as traditional territory. At Richmond Secondary School, art students, teacher Allison Shelling, and First Nations artist Christine MacKenzie collaborated on an Indigenous mural at the school district offices. “When I initially came in, I shared a massive chunk of culture. I brought in items including bear hides, drums and traditional regalia,” said MacKenzie. At 100 Mile Elementary, students created a heart from 325 paper feathers to honour the 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School. The heart is now displayed on a corkboard in the school’s entrance. In Mayo, YK, 11 high school students from JV Clark School spray painted self-portraits on the side of a local grocery store for a mental-wellness-focused art project. The students, members of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation and Kwanlin Dün First Nation, said that the project gave them an opportunity to make the community more colourful. Times Colonist | Richmond Sentinel | 100 Mile Free Press | APTN News (BC | YK)

SPU introduces new Indigenous Centre

Saint Paul’s University has introduced an Indigenous Centre, which will have an official naming and opening ceremony when COVID-19 restrictions allow. The centre, which is staffed by two knowledge keepers, provides a welcoming atmosphere for Indigenous community members. It includes space for people to learn about Indigenous culture and will promote Indigenous cultures, values, and history while fostering positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members. The centre was designed by an Indigenous architect firm, and includes a hallway with a mural of a turtle, a low relief representation of Ottawa’s waterways, and an Elders’ Lodge. SPU (ON)

School boards announce new school names

Several boards have announced plans to rename schools that bear the names of those connected to the residential school system. The York Region District School Board in Ontario has stripped Sir John A Macdonald’s name from a public school, and Edmonton Catholic Schools, Greater St Albert Catholic Schools, and Catholic School District in Calgary have all removed the name of Bishop Vital Grandin from schools in their boards. In British Columbia, the Vancouver School Board has embarked on a pilot project that allows for schools to be renamed through a formalized process under certain conditions. “Folks are eager. This is a real time of change,” said VSB school trustee Jennifer Reddy. “And if we don’t show the leadership to review the names wholesale, I feel like we’re missing an opportunity to engage a wider public dialogue.” Yahoo (AB) | City News (YRDSB) | CBC (Vancouver) (National)

Western launches academic-development modules for decolonizing curriculum

Western University has launched a series of academic-development modules that will help its course instructors to decolonize and Indigenize university curriculum. The one-hour long classes offer tools that instructors can use to add nuance to their work in the classroom. “We’re seeing more and more of an interest, a genuine interest on campus, to really rethink the way that we do things and to include Indigenous perspectives,” said Western Education Professor Candace Brunette-Debassige, who co-led the development of the modules. “When you’re doing that decolonizing work, inevitably, you’re going to unsettle those biases; those tensions will emerge in the classroom. That can be very challenging for instructors, so we want to prepare them so that they can have those conversations in respectful ways.” Two modules will be available to faculty and graduate students as soon as next summer, and the classes will challenge the “historical amnesia” often entrenched in curriculum and offer ways to address Indigenous/settler relations. The institution hopes to eventually develop and offer six modules. Western | London Free Press (ON)

Funds being raised for independent, urban Indigenous school on the Island

The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre and Mid Island Métis Nation are applying for a school license and have launched a fundraising campaign to foster the creation of the first urban Indigenous school in British Columbia, reports CTV News. “The goal of this new institution is to build a community-supported environment where learners never even begin to see the cracks in the system, let alone fall through them,” said NAC Interim Executive Director Ian Kalina. The school would offer K-12 programming, healing activities and traditional teachings, and opportunities to connect with elders. The Times Colonist reports that the announcement comes as the Tsawalk Learning Centre and Nisaika Kum’tuks Learning Centre are being consolidated into SD 68. NAC has expressed concerns that the consolidation into a larger school board will have a negative impact on students who have struggled in the past. Times Colonist | CTV News (BC)