Indigenous Top Ten

October 6, 2021

ON to introduce new Grade 1-3 curriculum, invest in supports for Indigenous students

The Government of Ontario has announced that it will be introducing a new mandatory Grade 1-3 social studies curriculum, which includes the residential school system, the Indigenous relationship to the land, and Inuktitut as a language option. Joanne Meyer, the chief operating officer of the Métis Nation of Ontario, said that these changes would align the curriculum with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations. “This would ensure that age-appropriate mandatory curriculum content pertaining to residential schools, treaties and the lives of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples is made available to all students,” said Meyer. ON will also be investing over $23M in a variety of supports for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students. The supports will include increased funding for 15 Alternative Secondary School Sites, investments in strengthening existing partnerships between the Chiefs of Ontario and First Nation Provincial Territorial Organizations, and supports for MNO’s collaborations with school board administrators and educators in integrating Métis knowledge into Indigenous education programs and initiatives. CBC | CTV News | Global News | ON (ON)

Memorial, Western, York announce new centres for Indigenous students, knowledges

Memorial University, Western University, and York University celebrated new spaces and centres on campus that would host Indigenous knowledges, students, and programming. Memorial’s Indigenous Student Resource Centre (ISRC) has opened a new Indigenous student services and programming centre called Juniper House. Juniper House contains multifunctional gathering and study spaces, a computer lab, kitchen, Elders’ space, multimedia room, and office space. Western announced that it is planning a new Indigenous Learning Space. The space will be a central hub for activity and gatherings, and will contain a terraced medicine garden. It is scheduled to reopen next summer. York has announced the launch of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages (CIKL). The new organized research unit, which will be led by York professor Deborah McGregor, will focus on Indigenous knowledges, languages, practices, and ways of being. It will support research based on traditional and contemporary knowledges. Memorial | YorkU | Western (NL | ON)

Institutional leaders reflect on how to honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Community and educational leaders reflected on how to commemorate and honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In the Globe and Mail, residential-school survivor Geraldine Shingoose emphasized the importance of listening to the stories survivors tell: “I ask Canada to see us, to hear us and to believe us.” St Jerome’s University President Peter Meehan described how as a Catholic institution, SJU has a “deeper sense of responsibility in the Truth and Reconciliation process” and needs to advance its commitment with action. Vancouver Community College President Ajay Patel issued a message encouraging community members to continue to listen, learn, and work towards societal healing. Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Bruce Bourget said that staff and students would wear orange, observe a moment of silence, and take part in activities such as listening to an honour/drum song recorded by Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie. Globe and Mail | SJU | VCC | Manitoulin Expositor (RDSB) (National)

Student speaks out about being removed from class after staying seated during anthem

A student at River East Collegiate has spoken out after being removed from class after staying seated during the national anthem. In Grade 5, Skyla Hart, a First Nations student with Cree and Ojibway ancestry, decided to honour her roots by beginning to not stand during O Canada. In Grade 10, she was reportedly pulled out of class by a teacher after refusing to stand during the anthem and told to stand in the hallway. CBC reports that, during one incident, a teacher yelled at Hart for sitting in the hallway so that she would not be standing for the anthem. “It made me feel upset, angry,” said Hart. “The teacher kept on telling me she respected what I do. But if she respected me, she wouldn’t have pulled me out of class to stand in the hallway.” Hart said that the school’s principal “was very respectful” and asked Hart to help improve awareness of Indigenous experiences. CBC (MB)

At McGill, a PhD student and supervisor discuss research in Mi’kmaq

In a recent article from CTV News, McGill University PhD student John Robert Silliboy and supervisor Dr Janine Metallic shared their experience discussing research in the Mi’kmaq language. Silliboy shared how, when searching for a supervisor, he had hoped to find an Indigenous supervisor. However, when he found Metallic, he did not realize that she spoke Mi’kmaq until they met in Fall 2018. Silliboy and Metallic recently conducted an hour-long meeting about Silliboy’s research in Mi’kmaq, which allowed them to discuss concepts that could not be translated easily into English. “Getting off of our online meeting yesterday… I thought, ‘I wish all interactions could be like this,’” said Metallic. “I wish they could all be so easy.” CTV News (QC)

TDSB announces plans to open Indigenous Land-Based Learning site

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Urban Indigenous Education Centre has announced that it will be opening an Indigenous Land-Based Learning site at the Boyne Natural Science School in Niagara. The site includes 308.5 acres of land designated an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. The Indigenous Land-Based Learning site will offer a variety of programming, including holistic support of Indigenous student success, professional learning, community engagement partnerships, and reconciliation through Indigenous perspectives. The site will initially be able to accommodate one or two classes at a time, with plans to have larger groups when pandemic restrictions allow. Visits to the site are expected to begin in mid-2022. City News | Nation Talk (ON)

AU, Bigstone Cree Nation partner to monitor aquatic, moose health

Athabasca University has partnered with Bigstone Cree Nation to monitor changes in aquatic and moose health in northern Alberta communities. AU microbiologist Dr Shauna Zenteno and anthropology professor Dr Janelle Baker will collaborate with Bigstone Cree Nation to bridge Indigenous ways of knowing with traditional science research. Bigstone Cree Nation members will be trained in sampling water, organizing moose kits, and interviewing elders and community members. The qualitative observations will be combined with quantitative analysis of the water to make observations. “The traditional knowledge and community members themselves help guide the research,” said Zenteno. “Their understanding of the environment and observations over time can help us interpret the data we obtain on water quality and how this relates to our findings in moose.” AU (AB)

School divisions in MB, ON consider school names to ensure appropriateness

Several schools in Manitoba and Ontario have announced that they will be reviewing the names of institutions that have been named after people to ensure appropriate representation. The Winnipeg School Division has announced that it will review the names of all of its schools that are named after people to ensure that they are respectful and inclusive. Jamie Dumont, vice-chairwoman of the board of trustees in the Winnipeg School Division, introduced the motion. “We operate, as a school division, under a number of values and, in many cases, we are very much a leader in diversity, equity, inclusion and Indigenous education” said Dumont, “so I think it’s important that, as a board, we ensure that our schools and our buildings don’t contradict these values.” MB’s Pembina Trails School Division has announced that it will be changing the name of Ryerson School and is seeking suggestions from the community for a new name. In Ontario, a high school being built in Amherstburg will not have the word “Amherst” or “Amherstburg” in the name, due to General Amherst’s connection with germ warfare against First Nations. The Star (1) | The Star (2) | CTV News (ON) (MB | ON)

Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre launches new public archive featuring interviews with elders

Halifax’s Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre has launched a new public archive called the Trudy Sable Archive Collection. The collection includes around 50 hours of audio and video interviews with Mi’kmaw elders on a variety of topics, including Mi’kmaw language, politics, sports, ceremonies, and residential schools. The interviews were collected by Trudy Sable in the 1990s as part of a study of the history and culture within Atlantic Canada’s First Nations communities. Around 30 interviews still need to be added to the archive. “I’m hoping that non-Indigenous people pay just as much attention to these archives as my own community, and maybe they can learn something,” said Pam Glode-Desrochers, executive director of the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre. “Maybe they can take something away and recognize that we are all in this together. We are all treaty people.” CBC (NS)

Teachers express concern about AB’s draft K-6 curriculum

Teachers and parents are expressing concern about the Government of Alberta’s draft K-6 curriculum. CBC says that teachers expressed that they felt the curriculum was inappropriate, illogical, and that it failed to meet standards. Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling said that the curriculum did not acknowledge the diversity of AB’s communities, including Indigenous, LGBTQS+, and Francophone communities. “Indigenous cultures and way of knowing are talked about in the past tense as something that that we used to have,” said Schilling. “But we have vibrant Indigenous communities within our culture right now, and it fails to address it in the present tense and moving forward in the future.” CBC (AB) | PS. The Government of Alberta has announced that it is delaying some its new school curriculum, including the controversial social studies curriculum, and will be undertaking revisions. The Province