Indigenous Top Ten

January 25, 2023

Indigenous high school receives $2.9M from federal government for retrofits

Inner City High School, an Indigenous high school in Edmonton, has received $2.9M in federal funding to retrofit its building. Inner City will use the funds to increase the building’s sustainability through energy-efficient renovations such as improving glazing, using alternative energy sources, and increasing the building’s climate resilience; as well as making accessibility improvements and introducing English and Cree signage. The federal release explains that the retrofits will lead to cost savings that will be directed back into supporting students at the school. “Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program will make our building a community showcase of inclusivity and energy efficiency,” said Inner City High School Director of Education Dr Joe Cloutier. “This retrofit ensures our programming continues to help thousands of Edmonton’s marginalized urban Indigenous and other youth become productive citizens for another 30 years.” Canada | Inner City High School (AB)

As Turpel-Lafond departs UBC, institutions and schools examine hiring policies, review honorary degrees

Professor and former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is reportedly no longer employed at the University of British Columbia and has recently returned her Honorary Doctorate of Laws to Vancouver Island University, report Global News and CBC. The Vancouver Sun reports that UBC also recently issued a statement saying it regrets how it responded to questions about former professor Turpel-Lafond, and that the institution is now reviewing its processes around Indigenous status. Since Turpel-Lafond returned her honorary degree, Global News reports that six more universities, including the University of Regina, McGill University, Brock University, Royal Roads University, St Thomas University, and Mount Saint Vincent University, have announced that they are reviewing the honorary degrees that they awarded her. At the K-12 level, Regina Public School Board trustee Ted Jaleta has proposed a motion regarding hiring practices and representations of identity in order to prevent Indigenous identity fraud. Jaleta told the Regina Leader Post that the proposal stems from the news of people such as Carrie Bourassa or Turpel-Lafond, and a desire for RPSB to proactively ensure that opportunities for Indigenous people go to Indigenous people. Vancouver Sun (UBC) | CBC (VIU) | Global News | Leader Post (BC)

SGEI, RRDSB, SayITFirst launch new platform for learning Anishinaabemowin

Students in Northern Ontario have a new way of learning Anishinaabemowin thanks to a new language learning platform developed by Seven Generations Education Institute, the Rainy River District School Board, and SayITFirst. The web and app-based language learning platform “The Anishinnabemodaa App” engages students through a virtual campground setting where they can complete activities and unlock achievements and tasks as they build their vocabulary and language skills through spaced repetition. The voice recordings used in the app were created by Fort Frances high school teacher Jason Jones, and the developers intend to eventually replace the recordings with the voices of elders who are first generation speakers. “Keeping a culture and belief systems, ways of knowing relationship to the land, ceremony, all those things come with learning the language and utilizing the language in your life,” said SGEI CEO Brent Tookenay. “It’s a connection to our ancestors, to the land, to spirits or relationships.” CBC highlighted the application as one of several language revitalization efforts underway in Canada. NWO Newswatch | CBC (ON)

Athabasca Delta Community School changes school divisions, emphasizes language learning, culture

A school in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta has taken new steps to protect the Cree and Dene languages and culture after switching to the Parkland School Division. The Athabasca Delta Community School has expanded its language classes to ensure that students up to grade 9 can study in both Cree and Dene and has launched cultural learning opportunities such as lessons on how to skin and butcher a moose taught in Cree, bringing in elders to tell stories, and encouraging the incorporation of language learning into non-language classes. “We’ve got to keep the tradition alive and ongoing,” said Roy Ladouceur, an elder who taught students about the moose. “I always speak out in Cree … We keep on reminding the young people not to lose … their language and who they are.” CBC (AB)

Concordia creates Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program

Concordia University has created a new admissions pathway to help Indigenous students complete the prerequisite courses they need to pursue STEM postsecondary programs. Students in the Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program will be able to enrol in math and science courses at the university, as well as participating in university skills courses designed by the Student Success Centre and events at the Otsenhákta Student Centre. The program aims to remove barriers for Indigenous students who may not have been able to take the required math and science courses during high school and to ensure that students feel supported and have their needs met. “We’re trying to find opportunities for students to feel connected to their community through the seminar course, and vice versa,” said Kaié:ri Nikawerà:ke Indigenous Bridging Program coordinator Saba Din. “The goal is for students to see that the work they’re doing is going to benefit them and their home as well.” Concordia (QC)

Students practice Inuktitut language skills through Let’s Read Together program

Shelby Angalik is working with Connected North to offer a reading program called ᐅᖃᓕᒫᕐᓗ or “Let’s Read Together” to students in Nunavut schools. CBC reports that Angalik visits classrooms in Nunavut to help students build their Inuktitut language skills by reading to them and sharing Inuktitut and Inuit culture. “Just to make sure that Inuit have connections to our language, to Inuktitut in the classrooms, because all different schools, different towns, different grades — they all have different levels of Inuktitut,” said Angalik. “So the most important part is the connection.” Angalik noted that the best way to learn a language and to keep it up is through speaking to others in the community, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. CBC (NV)

BC elementary students learn about Indigenous culture through dancing, drumming, singing

Students at School District 23 recently learned about Indigenous culture through song, dance, and more in an event put on by Central Okanagan Public Schools’ Indigenous Education department. Grade 3 students came together to learn about what it means to be Indigenous and took part in hands-on activities such as powwow dancing, drumming, and singing. High school dancers participated in the event and danced in their regalia, and children enjoyed the opportunity to express pride in their Indigenous identity.. “To see the dancers, their style, their regalia and to know that in history this was against the law for a really long time,” said cultural coordinator of Indigenous education for School District 23 Deanna Necan. “To be able to bring it into the district is such an amazing feat for our equity in action.” Global News | Castanet (BC)

Collège nordique francophone offers fish camp for Francophone educators

Collège nordique francophone recently invited French-language educators in the Northwest Territories to participate in a fish camp to teach them about how Dene educators teach. At the camp, educators learned about topics such as Indigenous-Crown relations, residential schools, and fish filleting. Course instructor Lila Fraser Erasmus said that the Dene way of teaching includes modelling a skill such as filleting a fish while teaching about topics that can be used in other areas of life, such as patience and respect. Fraser Erasmus said that Dene do not see themselves as having a superior role to the land, and that it is important for children’s teachers to know about this worldview. “If our elders could design our health, our education, and our justice systems, that would look very different,” said Fraser Erasmus. “These systems out here are intended to promote or to instill colonial values into everyone. So we want to be able to bring resources to the classroom.” CBC (NWT)

Opaskwayak Cree Nation builds affordable housing for students in Winnipeg

First Nations postsecondary students in Winnipeg will soon have access to more affordable housing, thanks to an apartment project led by Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Opaskwayak Cree Nation is building a seven storey, 69-unit apartment building near the University of Winnipeg for First Nations students, young families, and elders. Over 40% of the units will be offered at a discounted rate, and all units will include free water, high-speed internet, and underground parking. The building will provide a safe and affordable place for students to stay while attending postsecondary education in the city. “This building not only allows our Cree Nation to start capitalizing within the real estate market, (but it will also) allow us a place in the city to house some of our own citizens who are leaving the north to begin their higher education journeys in the south,” said Opaskwayak Cree Nation Chief Sidney Ballantyne. Construction is expected to be complete by summer 2024. Global News | CBC (MB)

Lethbridge announces Indigenous Policing (Niitsitapi Inakiikawaiks) micro-credential program

Lethbridge College has launched an Indigenous Policing (Niitsitapi Inakiikawaiks) micro-credential program, which was developed in consultation with the Blood Tribe, Tsuut'ina Nation, and Lakeshore police. The program is comprised of six short, flexible micro-credentials that working professionals can use to upskill or reskill and learn about topics such as domestic violence/elder abuse, sexual abuse/human trafficking, impaired driving, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)/drug matters, writing, and tribal policing. “The Blood Tribe Police are driving this project, because we cannot address anything in our Indigenous communities without our Indigenous people leading these projects,” said Lethbridge Dean of the Centre for Justice and Human Services Trudi Mason. Mason further explained that tribal police services are not always comprised of Indigenous people and that officers working in Indigenous communities must be aware of different cultural aspects. CTV News | Lethbridge Herald | Nation Talk (AB)