Indigenous Top Ten

May 4, 2022

MB releases Indigenous Education Policy Framework, new education reform action plan

The Government of Manitoba has developed an education policy for Indigenous students called Mamàhtawisiwin: The Wonder We Are Born With - An Indigenous Education Policy Framework, as well as a new education reform action plan. Mamàhtawisiwin includes four policy directions: Authentic involvement; ensuring students are at the centre; understanding world views, values, identities, traditions, and contemporary lifestyles; and inclusive, culturally safe learning environments. MB has also invested $1.6M in expanding the Elders and Knowledge Keepers in Schools Initiative to support students, teachers, and families in learning about Indigenous traditions, knowledge systems, and lifestyles. Advocates have called MB’s education action plan a step forward for Indigenous students, as it emphasizes access to equitable and high-quality education for all students. However, advocates say that the plan needs to ensure that community engagement and critical reflection continues, as the graduation rate for Indigenous students is much lower than for non-Indigenous students. MB (1) | CBC | MB (2) | The Globe and Mail (MB)

ULethbridge, Lakehead, Brandon U, UOttawa launch new plans and processes to honour reconciliation

The University of Lethbridge, Lakehead University, Brandon University, and the University of Ottawa recently announced new strategies, plans, and administrative processes that respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. ULethbridge developed and adopted the new Iniskim Governance Process, which focuses on supporting students through their academic journey and helping to create employment opportunities for them. The process was developed with guidance from Dr Leroy Little Bear and the university’s Elders in Residence. Lakehead is embarking on a 10-year initiative to revitalize Indigenous languages in and around the institution. The university will spend its first year consulting with the community before rolling out its 5-year and 10-year goals, which will include the creation of Indigenous-language immersion houses on campus and the development of immersion curriculum with First Nations elementary schools. At Brandon U, the new strategic plan draws on Indigenous approaches and has been given the Michif name Mamaawii-atooshke aakihkiwiin, which can be translated as ‘Working Together and Growing.’ The plan focuses on the Indigenous image of a braid, which is a symbol of unification rather than siloed division, and points to increased Indigeneity as a key opportunity for the university to broaden its perspectives and incorporate new ways of viewing the world, knowing, and teaching and learning. The University of Ottawa’s School of Social Work has adopted a resolution to ensure Indigenous knowledge is equally represented in its programs and practices. To do this, the school is implementing initiatives such as involving Indigenous elders in teaching courses and increasing student field placements with Indigenous organizations. ULethbridge | Lakehead | BrandonU | NationTalk (UOttawa) (National)

Atik Mason Indigenous Pilot Pathway to bring pilot training opportunity to Thompson

Indigenous students in Thompson, Manitoba will have the opportunity to pursue pilot training through a new program offered by the Exchange Income Corporation (EIC). The Atik Mason Indigenous Pilot Pathway aims to increase the number of Indigenous commercial pilots in the North. EIC will bring in training aircraft, flight instructors, and maintenance staff so that students can complete their pilot studies without leaving the community of Thompson, and candidates will be provided with remedial support if necessary. The Association of Manitoba Chiefs and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) will identify potential candidates for the program. “I am really ecstatic that we have the opportunity to engage our young people in such a unique program,” said Garrison Settee, grand chief of MKO. “Allowing Indigenous people to be part of an aviation program like this is something that has never really been pursued to this magnitude. I think it’s huge.” Thompson Citizen | Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

NS, NV consider ways to include more Indigenous language education in school systems

Nova Scotia and Nunavut are making moves to include more Indigenous language education in their school systems and are considering how education in Indigenous languages can best be implemented. Indigenous communities have responded to the tabling of legislation to recognize Mi’kmaw as Nova Scotia’s first language by questioning what impact this will have on language recognition and education in schools. Brian Francis, who is Mi’kmaw from Elsipogtog First Nation, says that there is a need for education in Indigenous languages as young people are losing the language. Francis has said he would like political leaders to push for immersion funding, which Wolastoq Grand Council chief Ron Tremblay echoed with a call for governments and churches to fund immersion schools to make amends for purposefully attempting to destroy the languages in residential schools. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) President Aluki Kotierk encouraged Nunavut to look to Greenland for inspiration on how Indigenous language use can be effectively implemented within school systems. Since student protests in the 1970s, students in Greenland have learned primarily in Greenlandic, thanks to efforts to grow the number of teachers in schools who speak Greenlandic. Kotierk is calling for Nunavut to follow this path by increasing the number of Inuktut-speaking teachers in high schools. “I think it demonstrates that Inuktut could be used in all grade levels and all subject matters, so students could graduate with Inuktut as the language of instruction,” said Kotierk. CBC (NS) | CBC (NV) (NS | NV)

OSCC launches Iiyikinaami program with UCalgary, receives $1.4M to establish chair with MRU

Old Sun Community College has recently announced new partnerships with the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. OSCC and UCalgary have collaborated to launch the Bachelor of Nursing – Indigenous Community Route (Siksika Pilot). The program, called Iiyikinaami, will give Siksika students the opportunity to gain a Bachelor of Nursing in a blended format. Students will be able to study in an inclusive and culturally safe environment and will receive support as they overcome any barriers to their education. Graduates will be prepared to enter leadership roles that support better health for Indigenous people. “If we can marry modern western health-care practices with Siksika traditional spiritual ways, then we have the best of both,” said OSCC President Dr Maurice Manyfingers. OSCC and MRU have also recently received $1.4M from the Ptarmigan Charitable Foundation to establish a chair to support the new Indigenous Business and Economic Development program. UCalgary | MRU (AB)

UCN completes Elder’s Traditional Knowledge digitization project

The University College of the North has announced that its Wellington & Madeleine Spence Memorial Library has completed an Elder’s Traditional Knowledge digitization project. The 16-week project was completed in partnership with the Keewatin Tribal Council. The materials in the Elder’s Traditional Knowledge archive preserve the culture, heritage, and language of Northern Manitoba. The online archive includes audio and video recordings of interviews with elders, conference recordings, and oral history material, and is fully available to the UCN community and those in Northern Manitoba. “This project honours the past but looks toward the future of our Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba,” said UCN Associate VP, Reconciliation, Research & Academic Innovation, Harvey Briggs. “We hope that this archive will grow and provide an excellent resource for all [our] students, researchers, and community members.” Nation Talk (MB)

MCFN school forced to close after being vandalized

A Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations (MCFN) school has been forced to close after it was vandalized in April. The school had been badly damaged when police arrived: many doors and windows had been smashed and there was extensive graffiti on the exterior of the building. Construction equipment at the school also was damaged. The school has closed during the cleanup and repair, and a renovation project scheduled to be completed in September may also be delayed. The renovation project was to provide the school with more classroom space, a cafeteria, and a childcare facility. “We are outraged and saddened at the level of vandalism that has occurred,” said MCFN Elected Chief Stacey Laforme. “This situation has devastated our community as a whole and we want to assure students, parents and the community that we are doing everything we can to assist the OPP with their continuing investigation into this matter.” The Turtle Island News | Two Row Times (ON)

NIC, RRC Polytech open Indigenous gathering spaces

North Island College and Red River College Polytechnic have officially opened new Indigenous gathering spaces. NIC celebrated the official opening of Q̓ə pix ʔidaʔas at its Campbell River campus. The building’s design represents a traditional drum. The space will house the Elders in Residence program, a community room, and space for the delivery of language courses and other programming. RRC Polytech has opened the Roundhouse Auditorium at Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, which will be used for events, ceremonies, and collaborative learning. The 210-seat space is sound-proof, ventilated for the use of traditional medicines, and features a Morning Star design embedded in the floor which was created by Anishinaabe/Nêhiyaw/British artist KC Adams. “We often incorporate the future as part of our reality, thinking seven generations ahead,” said Adams. “How we move and how we navigate now affects the future.” Nation Talk | BC | Construct Connect | RRC Polytech (BC | MB)

MN-S makes offer to purchase former Rivier Academy to build private school, other facilities

The Métis Nation Saskatchewan (MN-S) has made an offer to purchase the former Rivier Academy in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. City councillors were in favour of the acquisition and application for a development permit. MN-S has a variety of plans for the land after it is acquisitioned, including building catering services, a childcare centre, a health clinic, an office, a private school, and a public assembly. “We are hopeful about the possibilities that a facility like 1405 Bishop Pascal Place might provide,” said the MN-S in a statement. “Our Métis Nation–Saskatchewan government looks for opportunities to build capacity across the province to improve our communities’ well-being, including Métis cultural and educational projects.” MBC Radio | PA Now (SK)

DDSB reinstates “The Great Bear” to bookshelves after controversial decision to pull it

The Durham District School Board has quickly backpedalled on its decision to pull a book by Cree writer David A Robertson from its shelves. The school board removed “The Great Bear” after allegedly receiving complaints about the book and sent a notice to school principals indicate that the books “do not align” with DDSB’s Indigenous Education policies. The decision and lack of clarity around the reason behind the book’s removal generated outrage from some members of the community, including Robertson, professors of children’s literature, and librarians. The school board trustees approved a motion for an in-depth report outlining the board’s policy on the removal of books, criteria for removing books, and information regarding the complaints. The Globe and Mail reported that DDSB returned “The Great Bear” and two other books to circulation in its libraries, and revealed that the concerns about the books were related to Indigenous stereotypes and discriminatory terminology. Robertson stated that he did not wish to discount any of the complaints, but that complaints should not have led to the book’s widespread removal. “There were better ways to do it,” said Robertson. The Star | Newmarket Today | Globe and Mail (ON)