Indigenous Top Ten

August 25, 2021

Canada, ON invest over $14.2M in internet infrastructure for Indigenous communities, education

The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario have announced that they will be investing over $14.2M in five Northern Ontario community and education infrastructure projects. The projects include the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Student Internet Connectivity Project, which will provide secure internet to students attending school virtually. Two other projects will provide 13 First Nation communities with internet, which will allow students to access remote learning, school websites, and online mental health resources. These projects will serve the Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council, five member communities, and the Seven Generations Education Institute for 8 First Nations. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how crucial it is to have highspeed broadband access so members across NAN territory can receive much-needed services, including health care and education,” said Alvin Fiddler, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. “This significant investment in Starlink technology will allow our communities to develop capacity for information technology and support online services that will help provide a better quality of life.” Canada (National)

Land Blessing Ceremony held for NCTR’s future home

A Land Blessing Ceremony was held earlier this month for the future home of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. The NCTR Governing Circle, the Survivors Circle, NCTR staff, and university executives were guided by the Elders in Residence in ceremony to envision the NCTR’s new home, an experience that included considering how the building will be created as an Indigenous space that promotes learning and houses important records and objects. “The NCTR is rapidly expanding to meet the needs of communities and Survivors across the nation,” said NCTR Executive Director Stephanie Scott. “However, it is important not to lose sight of the sacred responsibility the Centre has to honour the truth and sacred objects Survivors entrusted into our care. It was essential for our Elders and Survivors to guide us in ceremony as we embark on the first step in the journey of where a new building will stand one day.” The NCTR is currently located on the University of Manitoba’s campus in a historic building and will move in the future to a location on the river in the newly acquired Southwood lands. UManitoba (MB)

ATC calls for amendment of Indian Act to empower nations in education

The Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC) has made a call for the amendment of the section in the Indian Act that relates to school operation. ATC is requesting that the phrase “the requirement of free, prior and informed consent” be added to sections 114 and 115 of the Indian Act. These sections cover operation and regulation of schools for Indigenous children and educational regulations for building standards, equipment, teaching, education, inspections, and discipline. ATC has launched the Orange Path petition to gather support for the changing of the sections. “The Indian Act allows Canada to run our schools without our consent,” said Peter Powder, chief of Mikisew Cree Nation. “We want to empower our nation and we want to have some control back.” Edmonton Journal | CBC | (AB)

USask to add new Division of Indigenous Health

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine has announced that it will be adding a new Division of Indigenous Health. The division will address a variety of issues, such as differences in access to health care, issues with federal versus provincial systems, and Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and will help co-ordinate work on issues for a better outcome. The new division will be involved in everything from recruitment to curriculum development to research. “Embodying that whole piece around reconciliation means that we need to have a way, and a place that is safe and that is accessible not only to students and to the university crowds, but probably much more importantly to our communities … we want our communities to feel free to come and access and be able to be part of that process as well,” said Dr Veronica McKinney, chair of the College of Medicine’s Indigenous Health Committee. Saskatoon StarPhoenix (SK)

MLCN secures property to host culture camp, land-based education

Montreal Lake Cree Nation (MLCN) has announced that it has bought a property that will be turned into a culture camp and land-based education location. The property is located near the site where the Woodland Cree signed adhesion to Treaty 6, as well as the site of a summer camp that was run by vice-chief Dean Albert Henderson’s grandmother’s sister. MLCN has bought a boat, animal traps, nets, and camping equipment for the program, and will use $320K from Indigenous Services Canada to run the program. “My dream is to have our kids come from our schools to use (this) as their land-based therapy. Land-based education,” said Henderson. “It’s right in our own backyard. We’ve got animals all over the place. We’ve got fish in our backyard. We couldn't ask for anything better.” CTV News (SK)

MB invests in multi-faceted skilled-trades training for Indigenous women

The Government of Manitoba has announced that it will be partnering with the Manitoba Construction Sector Council and investing over $600K to provide a skilled-trades training initiative for Indigenous women in four communities. The initiative will support women from Pinaymootang First Nation, Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Dakota Tipi First Nation, and York Landing. Training will include a three-week job readiness course and a workshop on women in the trades. “It is important to provide Indigenous women the tools, training and support they need to build a career in a field with good-paying jobs, employee benefits and job security, which is often hard to acquire in northern and remote communities,” said Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere. MB (MB)

Indigenous faculty, staff, reflect on truth and reconciliation at universities now and in future

Indigenous faculty and staff from across Canada have shared their perspective on how Truth & Reconciliation has been implemented at universities. Some shared that the changes they have seen have largely been rhetoric rather than deep changes, while others have seen meaningful progress on their campus and in the sector. Author Ian Munroe highlights the changes in curriculum, the growing number of Indigenous scholars and administrators, and the new student resources introduced in recent years, as well as the need for deeper reforms. Ry Moran of the Red River Métis, who is the associate university librarian of reconciliation at the University of Victoria, emphasized that institutions should consider the TRC’s calls to action alongside the 10 principles of reconciliation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Munroe writes that several interviewees pointed to UNDRIP as providing a pathway to meaningful change. University Affairs (National)

Gitwinksihlkw Elementary school to build new gymnasium

Gitwinksihlkw Elementary school in the Nisga’a School District will build a new gymnasium with support from over $6.3M in funding from the Government of British Columbia. The K-7 school has been using the Ts’oohl Ts’ap Memorial Centre, which is not fully accessible and is a shared space. The building will have mechanical and electrical systems to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and utility costs, will be fully accessible, and will have a gender-neutral washroom. “This vision encourages equitable and inclusive schools that focus on the whole child – mind, body, heart and spirit,” said Elsie Davis, board chair, Nisga’a School District. “Having an accessible gymnasium at Gitwinksihlkw Elementary school will support us in meeting the needs of each child, while also having a space that will be available to the community for ceremony and celebration.” Construction on the facility is expected to begin in summer 2022 and be complete in September 2023. BC (BC )

IPAC receives $1M from CMA Foundation for Indigenous medical mentorship program

The CMA Foundation will be providing a $1M grant to the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) to support the development of a national mentorship program for Indigenous medical learners and physicians. The program will connect Indigenous medical learners to mentors who can provide guidance, training, advice, and growth opportunities. “As Indigenous Peoples, learning from our Elders and Knowledge Keepers is part of our culture. Mentorship encourages mutual respect and strengthens Indigenous ways,” explained Syexwalia, Knowledge Keeper and Elder from Squamish Nation. “I look forward to working with IPAC as they develop their nation-wide mentorship program in support of Indigenous medical learners and early career physicians.” Nation Talk (National)

New books published celebrating learning, culture, families

Several new books have been published by Indigenous authors in recent weeks. Ren Wikinanish Louie, a member of the Ahousaht First Nation and a student at the University of Victoria, published Drum from the Heart. The book tells the story of a boy who is given a drum that allows him to connect to his culture while singing traditional Nuu-chah-nulth songs. "The inspiration was to tell a story about Indigenous culture and identity that is not rooted in trauma," said Louie. The Globe and Mail reports that Ojibwe journalist Tanya Talaga will be publishing a book on residential schools in 2023 as part of a three-book deal. Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame launched the Indigenous Sport Heroes Education Experience, an online book that aims to fulfill the TRC Call to Action #87 and “educate and inspire youth across Canada, sparking conversations in classrooms” about Indigenous athletes. Patrick Sullivan and Heather O’Watch of the Morning Star Lodge at the University of Saskatchewan shared their experience developing a culturally relevant children’s book in partnership with the Star Blanket Cree Nation, Solutions for Kids in Pain, and community members. The book, called Little Louis, addresses needle fear and vaccine hesitancy. CBC | Globe and Mail | CBC (National)