Indigenous Top Ten

November 17, 2021

MMF to develop childcare centre in The Pas through $10.3M investment

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) will be developing an affordable housing project in The Pas, Manitoba, which will include a childcare centre. MMF has invested $10.3M and partnered with The Pas and The Pas Community Development Corporation on the project. The daycare will have 40 spaces and will have a focus on teaching children about culture and heritage through land-based learning. The construction is anticipated to begin next spring, with the daycare being a top priority. “We’re going to make sure land-based learning and language learning [is used],” said MMF president David Chartrand. “We want to teach them about the land and the environment … If you start teaching at a young age, it’s a practice they’ll follow for the rest of their lives.” CBC (MB)

Questions around academic’s Indigenous identity trigger calls for national action

A recent CBC investigation into University of Saskatchewan professor and CIHR Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health scientific director Carrie Bourassa reportedly found no evidence to support Bourassa’s claims of Indigenous identity. Bourassa was put on leave without pay, and USask announced that an investigation had been launched into her claims after new information emerged. A demonstration was held at USask by the Matriarchs, Clan Mothers, Aunties and Allies group to call on universities across Canada to investigate faculty whose Indigenous identity has been questioned. The group asked for institutions to conduct “transparent reviews and decisive action” to remove employees with unsubstantiated claims of Indigeneity. USask student and Provincial Métis Youth Council president Autumn Larose-Smith noted that spurious claims to being Indigenous have destroyed trust and have devalued the word of Indigenous people. The University of Regina also recently released a statement recognizing concerns about Indigenous identity fraud and committing itself to establishing an Indigenous advisory body. CBC (1) | CBC (2) | CBC (3) | URegina (SK)

YK to hold referendums to determine if schools will transfer to YK First Nations School Board

The Government of Yukon has announced that it will be holding referendums in January to determine if five schools will join the Yukon First Nations School Board. The schools will hold votes in their attendance areas. Each school will require over 50% of the votes to approve the joining in order for the transfer to take place. Schools can be added to the election if 20% of the eligible electors in the school’s attendance area sign a petition. If any schools vote to join the First Nations School Board, an election will be held to determine the board’s trustees. National Post | Nation Talk (YK)

QC provides $5M to create a new residence for Indigenous students at ULaval

The Government of Quebec has announced that it will be providing $5M to support the creation of a new living environment for Indigenous students and their families on Université Laval’s campus. The living environment–which aims to be more than a residence–will provide safe and affordable housing for Indigenous students pursuing graduate studies. Student tenants and their family members will have access to culturally relevant and integrated services with the aim of empowering them. “[Indigenous peoples’] participation in our society is essential, and their participation in student life in our CEGEPs and universities is a very important factor in this regard,” said Benoit Charrette, who is the QC minister responsible for the fight against racism. “I am delighted to see different organizations joining forces to carry out this promising project, and I hope that its completion will contribute to the development of the aboriginal communities of Quebec.” The project will be piloted by Société immobilière du Regroupement des centers d'amitié autochtones du Québec (SIRCAAQ). Newswire (QC)

On-reserve students to receive free menstrual products “very soon” after drive organized

Federal Indigenous Services minister Patty Hajdu has announced that free menstrual products will be provided to on-reserve schools “very soon.” The announcement came after criticism was raised over the exclusion of First Nations schools from a partnership between the Government of Ontario and Shoppers Drug Mart that will provide school boards with menstrual products. Those with questions about the exclusion were directed to go to the federal government, as it funds and regulates on-reserve schools. “Young people attending First Nations schools have high needs for these products but they are being excluded,” said NDP member Sol Mamakwa, who represents an area that includes northern Ontario First Nations. Tania Cameron of the Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation responded to ON’s exclusion of on-reserve schools by organizing a menstrual product drive for students in northwestern Ontario First Nations. “It’s just catching like wildfire and the support from the community locally and regionally is just incredible,” said Cameron. “A student in need shouldn’t be recognized in terms of boundaries, federal [or] provincial boundaries.” CP24 | The Globe and Mail | CBC (ON)

ON invests over $3.7M in training Treaty #3 members in construction careers

The Government of Ontario is investing over $3.7M to provide career training to members of Treaty #3 First Nations communities. 110 people will receive training so that they can work in a variety of professions, including heavy equipment operators, general construction workers, and concrete workers. People who are unemployed, underemployed, or whose jobs are at risk will be given priority for the program. “Today’s investment will give First Nations people in Northern Ontario the training and skills they need to open the door to these meaningful career opportunities, helping build better lives for themselves and their loved ones,” said ON Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton. ON (ON)

Cégep de Baie-Comeau launches pathway for Indigenous youth to transition to postsecondary studies

Cégep de Baie-Comeau and the Conseil des Innus de Pessamit have announced the launch of a new pathway to help Indigenous youth from Pessamit and other communities transition to postsecondary studies. The Cégep and Conseil will create a common timetable for students. Through the Cheminement Tremplin DEC – Première Nations pathway students can complete the last few units of their high school studies while gradually starting college classes. They will also be offered activities and resources to help them succeed, and encouragement to select and pursue an area of study for their postsecondary education. Le Manic | Cégep de Baie-Comeau (QC)

RRC Polytech announces new Indigenous name for Exchange District Campus project

Red River College Polytechnic has announced a new Indigenous name for its Exchange District Campus project: Manitou a bi Bii daziigae. The Anishinaabemowin name translates to “where the creator sits and brings light.” As part of the festivities for the building’s official opening, a pipe ceremony was held in the agora of the space to introduce the name to the community, bring spirit and life to the name, and honour the sacred ceremony. Una Swan, Black Eagle Woman, from Fisher River Cree Nation, said that the building was created in a way that honoured Indigenous wishes. “Everything Indigenous people would have wanted done for this building has been done,” said Swan. “It epitomizes the Indigenous community here in Manitoba. So, we’re very excited and proud about this building. You walk in there, you know it’s an Indigenous building.” RRC Polytech | CBC (MB)

Apology issued after teacher mocks student for wearing traditional Haisla Nation regalia

A school district superintendent of a school district including Kitimat, BC, has apologized after a student at Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School was mocked by a teacher for wearing traditional Haisla Nation regalia and cedar hat. CTV News reports that the student wore traditional regalia for photo day, and that the teacher asked him “What’s up with the costume today?” in front of the class. Superintendent Janet Meyer discussed the incident with the student, his parents, and the principal, but did not reveal the name of the teacher or if he would face disciplinary action. Alex Grant, the stepfather of the student, said that an apology is not enough, but that “there is an investigation going on now, that’s all they’ll say to us about that. The matter is in their hands and it’s being taken care of.” CTV News | CMSD (BC)

YukonU research chair to share Indigenous knowledge, stories through TikTok accelerator

The National Screen Institute has launched a TikTok accelerator to support Indigenous creators who share stories through TikTok. Yukon University research chair in Indigenous knowledge Jocelyn Joe-Strack was chosen from the Yukon to participate in the accelerator program. Program participants will learn about the technical aspects of content creation, such as sound and lighting, and will receive training in areas such as social responsibility and digital wellness. “In my TikToks, I talk about the teachings of earth. Earth is our ultimate teacher,” said Joe-Strack. “Through climate change, through the snow, through observing squirrels; we can gain our own teachings on how to better our relationship with the land, each other, and even within ourselves. Now there’s an opportunity to share it through these one-minute little clips through TikTok.” APTN News (YK)