Indigenous Top Ten

July 28, 2021

Lakehead, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians to create Indigenous law institute

Lakehead University’s law faculty and the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians have received a pledge of $918K over three years to support the creation of an Indigenous law institute in Thunder Bay. Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti said that the funds will support research on Indigenous law-making and “lay the foundation” for a new legal centre that will reinvigorate Indigenous legal systems. The funding will support a project to improve Lenape, Mohawk, Oneida, and Anishinaabe law-making processes in a research phase and implement them in a pilot phase. It will also support a project to revitalize Anishinaabe and Metis law in partnership with regional communities and create land-based learning opportunities. “I still think there's a lot of discussion to go with respect to true sovereignty and jurisdiction applied by Indigenous communities,” said Grand Chief Joel Abram from the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians. “If it’s not respected by settler governments, then it’s not quite there yet.” CBC (ON)

Critics decry changes to ON preamble for mathematics curriculum

The Government of Ontario has changed the preamble accompanying its mathematics curriculum, reports the Canadian Press, and removed language related to racism and colonialism. The provincial NDP critics for education and anti-racism have accused the education minister of trying to appease insiders, while a statement from the education minister touted the benefits of the new math curriculum without explaining the changes. Race and gender columnist Shree Paradkar argues that the act of removing the words is indicative of what the ministry values and that the decision impacts students who will “never get to see the contributions of their ancestors upheld” without a more intentional effort. The Star’s Editorial Board issued a statement arguing that the focus on the preamble “distracts from the genuine issues buried beneath those layers of jargon.” Global News (CP) | The Star (Editorial Board) | The Star (Against removal) (ON)

Sask Polytech, SATCC receive roughly $13M to engage under-represented groups in PSE

Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) have received approximately $13M to support programs that will engage under-represented groups in postsecondary education. Sask Polytech will receive $11.3M to support the development and delivery of three programs: Disability Services Programming for adult learners with disabilities, Newcomer Services Programming for those new to Canada, and a Supportive Care Assistant Program for adult learners interested in entry-level healthcare careers. SATCC will use the remaining $1.68M for coordinating three initiatives that will involve K-12 educators, Indigenous apprentices, and youth interested in exploring apprenticeships trades programming. Prince Albert Daily Herald | Sask Polytech (SK)

Cultural camps give youth opportunity learn land-based skills, reconciliation

Several cultural camps across Canada are providing Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth the opportunity to learn land-based skills, Indigenous history, and reconciliation. In Saskatchewan, Beardy's and Okemasis' Cree Nation hosted a culture camp in July in which about a dozen youth learned traditional land-based skills such as creating medicine bags, erecting a teepee, and butchering a freshly shot moose. "I'm just really proud of myself that I can do that kind of stuff," said Hayden Blackbird. In Manitoba, Métis youth learned how to canoe and fish through an environmental stewardship program run by the Manitoba Métis Federation. The five-day program saw youth canoe along the Red River, stopping at sites of significance along the way. In Ontario, eighteen students participated in Algoma District School Board’s first Indigenous summer transition camp. Students took part in activities like whitewater kayaking and berry picking, while learning the skills and making the connections necessary for a smooth transition into secondary school. CBC | CBC | Sault Star (National)

YorkU’s SEEC, ONWA partner to offer mini-MBA program for Indigenous leaders

York University’s Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) and the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) have partnered to offer ONWA members a mini-MBA program tailored for the needs of Indigenous leaders. SEEC customized its nine-day Schulich Mini-MBA: Essentials of Management program to provide information in a variety of subjects, such as marketing, finance and HR, that would be relevant to Indigenous leaders. Sessions in topics such as policy and government, political acuity, community centricity, and grant writing were added to the program. “By designing classes that included the comfort of culture while building classes into their students’ daily work lives supported by their employers, higher learning became something to look forward to rather than a burden,” said OWNA communications manager Andre Morriseau. YorkU (ON)

Statement of claim filed against NNEC alleging failure to protect youth from abuse

Six men have reportedly filed a statement of claim in Thunder Bay Superior Court against the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC) for failing to protect them from sexual abuse. NNEC is a non-profit organization that delivers education programs to members of the Sioux Lookout District First Nations, sponsors students from remote First Nations, and provides and oversees student accommodations. The statement alleges that boarding house parent/counsellor Jack Wicksey, who was employed by NNEC, sexually abused youth that were in his care. Wicksey was first charged in 1994, and again in 2015; but the charges were stayed when he passed away in 2020. The men are seeking $1.5M each for aggravated damages and an additional $500K for past loss of earning capacity and income. TB News Watch reports that NNEC has not filed a statement of defense in court. TB News Watch | Globe and Mail (ON)

USask, SHA, CHEP Good Food Inc partner on project to address sustainability and food procurement

The University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), and CHEP Good Food Inc have partnered on a project under the Nourish Anchor Collaborative Cohort that will focus on food insecurity and food sovereignty. The project will look at both urban centres and remote areas with Indigenous populations, and will plan a path toward sustainability. The Cohort’s network of teams will address interconnected issues such as health inequity, food insecurity, diet-related chronic disease, and climate change impacts. “This is an exciting opportunity to think and work differently on very complex issues,” said Dr Wanda Martin, associate professor with the USask College of Nursing. USask (SK)

Kâpapâmahchakwêw, ACC celebrate inaugural graduating classes

The first-ever cohort of graduates from Kâpapâmahchakwêw – Wandering Spirit School in Toronto are celebrating as they prepare for postsecondary education. The school was founded in 1977 by Pauline Shirt and Vern Harper, and began accepting secondary school students in 2017. "It is just an exciting time [for students] to be transitioning from high school to university, especially coming from a very Indigenous-based school,” said graduating student Ella Laforme. “[Mainstream school teachings were] always the downfall of Indigenous people. It was always just the same things just being repeated over and over again.” The Southern Chiefs’ Organization is also celebrating the graduation of the first-ever cohort of the Restorative Justice Certificate program offered in partnership by Assiniboine Community College. “Not only do I want to continue to see enhanced educational opportunities that benefit our people and communities, I also want to see a marked increase in restorative justice and mediation services for First Nations,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “I am confident this graduating class will help make that a reality.” CTV News (Wandering Spirit) | Nation Talk (SCO, ACC) (ON)

UAlberta professors create new online course on Indigenous governance, lead summer internship

University of Alberta professors Kim TallBear and Jessica Kolopenuk have created a new online course that will teach students about how science can be used as a tool to promote Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty. The course covers a variety of topics, such as federal regulations and intersections between science and Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods. “One of the main kinds of assumptions is that science is neutral and objective, that it’s this pursuit of truth and unveiling of truth rather than actually constructing truths in particular ways,” said Kolopenuk. TallBear and Kolopenuk will also be leading the Summer internship for Indigenous Peoples in Genomics Canada, which will teach participants how to work scientifically and ethically within Indigenous communities. UAlberta (AB)

INLC receives funds from Canada to continue creation of learning packages, food hampers

The Ilitaqsiniq – Nunavut Literacy Council has received new supports from the Government of Canada to enable the council to continue providing community-led programs to children and families across the territory. The funds will support ongoing initiatives led by the council, such as the creation of 100 learning packages for children aged 10 and under, the creation of a children’s food bank for school-aged children to access food for themselves and their families, and the creation of 200 food hampers with recipes and directions in English and Inuktitut. Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller and Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal praised the council for introducing programming centered on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit principles that supported families while empowering Inuit to learn Inuktitut and English. “Since its founding in 1999, Ilitaqsiniq – Nunavut Literacy Council has supported literacy initiatives in Nunavut,” said Vandal. “As COVID-19 presented new and greater challenges, Ilitaqsiniq developed and implemented innovative solutions to ensure families and children in the territory received the education and food security supports they need.” Nation Talk (NV)