Indigenous Top Ten

December 15, 2021

QC invests $19.4M in educational initiatives to create closer ties with Indigenous people

The Government of Quebec has announced nearly $20M to support three initiatives focused on supporting Indigenous youth integration in the education system and informing youth about the experiences of Indigenous people. The three initiatives include a partnership to create new educational material about the realities faced by Indigenous people, the provision of new supports to Indigenous youth in the public school system, and a long-term plan to integrate an Indigenous perspective into the revision of all programs. “More and more elementary and secondary schools, colleges and even universities are calling on the members of the Table on First Nations and Inuit Student Success to ‘Indigenize’ the educational content,” explained Denis Gros-Louis of the Table. The announcement was made at the Kiuna Institute, which is the only Indigenous cégep in Quebec. CTV News | Global News | Nation Talk (QC)

FNUniv takes steps to buy land in Prince Albert, plans new campus

First Nation’s University is taking steps to buy 5 acres of land in Prince Albert adjacent to one of Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s campuses, for a project that will include the construction of a new campus. The plans include a two-storey, zero carbon building that will exceed accessibility requirements, support holistic learning, and increase program completion. The building will be designed to be transitioned to on-site renewable energy in the future and to meet Passive House certification standards. “With this new facility, the FNUniv will achieve a 21st-century learning environment that better aligns with our purpose, strategic plan, and unique student needs as well as accommodate Elders and Knowledge Keepers as part of our Indigenous ways of teaching and learning,” said a statement from the university. The Star (SK)

WSD report shows Indigenous students over-represented in suspensions

A report from the Winnipeg School Division shows that students who self-identify as Indigenous have received at least 55% of all suspensions since the 2016/2017 school year, despite making up only 27% of learners. The report indicated that young men were suspended most often, and that those who had repeatedly been suspended were more likely to have lower pass rates than their peers. Michael Henderson, an Ojibwe former student who had been suspended five times in high school, said that he “just didn’t feel wanted there” because of the suspensions, which additionally made it “kind of hard to catch up on my work.” Dr Janine Newton Montgomery, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba, said that suspensions should be used sparingly and alongside other supports for the student. “Sometimes the reason that they’re engaging in a behaviour is [not having a basic need met],” said Newton Montgomery. “And then to punish them for the fact that they haven’t had breakfast, they don’t have safety at home or something like that, it just makes the problem worse and then in terms of the outcomes, makes that kid feel worse about themselves.” CBC | Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

UVic establishes research chair in Indigenous mental health through $1.5M donation

The University of Victoria is establishing a research chair in Indigenous mental health named after renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist, the late Chief Mungo Martin, whose work shifted cultural perceptions of mental health. The chair is supported by a $1.5M gift from UVic political science alumnus Bruce McKean. The chair will focus on developing mental wellness research and learning through engagement with Indigenous communities and partners. “We are grateful for the donation that established the research chair in Mungo Martin’s name. And to use his name in what is an important and needed area of research all over Canada,” said Chief David Mungo Knox, great-grandson of Martin. UVic (BC)

Institutes introduce, celebrate courses focused on Indigenous culture, languages, skills

Educational institutes across Canada are introducing and celebrating courses that support Indigenous peoples and teach Indigenous culture and skills. In the Northwest Territories, two NWT departments launched a Hunter Education course for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students that will teach them about awareness and respect, using the full animal, and traditional practices. Kenjgewin Teg and Queen’s University have partnered to offer Queen’s students the opportunity to remotely complete three courses in Indigenous studies from the Indigenous institute. SEED Winnipeg launched a money management course in Ojibway that empowers students by teaching them financial literacy. Students learn about the risks of using pawn shops and short-term lenders, and SEED Manager of Asset-Building Programs Millie Acuna said that the course doubles as reconciliation as it is taught in Ojibway. Students at O’Chiese First Nation School in Alberta participated in a fur trapping skills course which connected them to culture. Students who completed the course also gained a certificate from the Alberta Trappers Association that will allow them to sell furs commercially. Nation Talk (NWT) | CBC (O’Chiese First nation) | CBC (SEED Winnipeg) | Anishinabek News (National)

Kettle & Stoney Point First Nation residents to gain training through new education centre

A new online learning centre has been set up by Contact North | Contact Nord within Kettle & Stony Point First Nation’s Four Winds Community Employment Services Office. The centre will help students achieve postsecondary qualifications without leaving their community. It will give students access to a variety of free services, including high-speed internet and technology, support and encouragement, exam supervision, help with registrations, and information on available online programs. “In terms of skills training and job preparedness, this represents a fantastic opportunity for the people of Kettle & Stony Point,” said Terese Bressette, Four Winds Community Employment Services Program Manager. This centre is the first in Contact North | Contact Nord’s Southwest Region. Nation Talk (ON)

CNC launches LaKles Way-hut: Business Start-Up for Indigenous Youth program

College of New Caledonia has launched a new program for Indigenous youth with an interest in entrepreneurship. The LaKles Way-hut: Business Start-Up for Indigenous Youth program provides 12 weeks of entrepreneurship training, during which participants will gain the skills and confidence they need to either start their own business or pursue further education. The program is free to eligible 15-to-19-year-old youth and is taught with a blended online approach. “Indigenous people have always been entrepreneurial,” said curriculum developer Ray Gerow. “It’s who we are and how we survived in society. This program is about making Indigenous youth understand that the entrepreneurial drive exists within them as well.” CNC (BC)

Ambrose, UManitoba act on Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations

Two universities have recently made announcements related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations. Ambrose University has announced that its board has acted on recommendation numbers 48 and 49, which are to affirm the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. “[This] represents a deep resolve of the Board and the university as a whole,” wrote Board of Governors Chair Debi Mills and President Gordon T Smith. “[W]ith God’s help, we will do all we can to live in truth, pursue justice and foster reconciliation between indigenous and settler peoples.” At the University of Manitoba, the Faculty of Law has taken steps to answer Call to Action 28 through the implementation of an Action Committee, the Indigenization of Curriculum, and other changes. UManitoba has taken steps such as hiring an Indigenous Student Support Coordinator, including significant Indigenous content in orientation days, and increasing Indigenous content in required first-year law courses. The faculty will also be offering a mandatory course for students in the second year of the Juris Doctor program called Indigenous Methodologies and Perspectives. Ambrose | UManitoba (1) | UManitoba (2) (AB | MB)

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg announces construction of new elementary school

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg has announced that a new elementary school will be built in the community. The school will be able to accommodate 175 students, which will relieve current overcrowding issues. It will include new classrooms, a library, a traditional learning classroom, and a stage for the performing arts, with technology and teaching environments that will be tailored to meet the First Nation’s educational needs. The school will be built through an investment of $25.8M from the Government of Canada. “The children and people of Biigtigong have waited a long time for this,” said Chief Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Duncan Michano. “The new school will be a source of learning and pride for all the youth as they start their learning path through life.” Nation Talk (ON)

Trent receives largest estate gift in history in support of Indigenous graduate students

Trent University has received a $1M estate gift – the largest in the university’s history – from Indigenous art collector Bill Reid in support of Indigenous graduate students. Reid’s long-term partner Bob Seabourn said that Reid became involved in Indigenous issues in his life through reading, personal friendships, and a hobby of collecting and restoring Indigenous beadwork that he later donated to the Art Gallery of Guelph. The gift will help endow the William B Reid Scholarship, which provides over $30K each year to fund the research expenses, hands-on learning opportunities, and conference attendance of Indigenous graduate students at Trent. “Bill was a passionate individual who listened to Indigenous people’s stories, wanted to make a difference, and created a fund that encourages many young Indigenous students in their pursuit of higher education so that they, in turn, can better support their communities,” said Sherry Booth, Trent AVP of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement. Trent (ON)