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Today's Top Ten

February 28, 2024

The leaders of several Ontario postsecondary organizations have shared their opinions on the Government of Ontario’s recent $1.3B investment announcement. The Council of Ontario Universities expressed disappointment in the funding amount as a whole while welcoming the investments in student mental health and STEM. OCUFA was pleased with the continued tuition freeze for domestic students, but pointed out that the overall investment was less than half of the amount recommended by ON’s Blue-Ribbon panel. Colleges Ontario CEO Marketa Evans described the investment as a “welcome first step” before emphasizing that the colleges “expect further action from the province.” NDP colleges and universities critic Peggy Sattler noted that underfunding has stressed postsecondary institutions. “The response today is just half of what Ford’s panel of experts have said colleges and universities need in Ontario just to keep the doors open,” said Sattler.
The Government of Alberta has announced its intention to grow apprenticeship opportunities across the province. If its Budget 2024 passed, AB would invest an additional $24M annually over the next three years to create 3,200 apprenticeship seats across 11 postsecondary institutions. This investment would increase the total funding offered through the Apprenticeship Learning Grant to $78M for the 2024-25 academic year. “Investing in apprenticeship education will supply Albertans with in-demand skills, nurture homegrown talent and support our labour market with world-class skilled tradespeople who keep our economy moving,” said AB Minister of Advanced Education Rajan Sawhney.
University Affairs reports that the Dimensions pilot project has officially ended after its funding was not renewed by the Government of Canada last year. The project first launched in 2018 with the goal of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within Canadian postsecondary institutions and was jointly administered by the Tri-Council (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC). In their comments to University Affairs, some participating institutions stated that the pilot program was integral to kickstarting their EDI efforts; others were disappointed that the funding was not renewed. “This is not the time to stop, but rather to continue, and fix well-known, long-standing inequality,” said EDI advocate Dr Kirsty Duncan.
Last month, the University Transition Program for Gifted Students (UTP)–run by the Government of British Columbia, the Vancouver School Board, and the University of British Columbia–decided to halt enrolments for the September 2024-25 intake and conduct an external review of its operations. The program allows select BC students to fast-track their secondary school experience, enabling them to graduate in two years instead of five. UTP stated that the decision to pause admissions is largely due to mounting concerns surrounding the mental health of its students. However, CBC reports that some parents and alumni are apprehensive of the pause, believing that it might disrupt the curriculum for current students or lead to a permanent cessation of the program.
National Association of Career Colleges CEO Michael Sangster is calling for an end to “political mud-slinging,” as he argues that private colleges are not to be blamed for the affordability crisis or boom in international students. “Of the 599,355 international study permit applications approved or extended by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada […] in 2023,” writes Sangster, “just 4.4 per cent were for regulated career colleges who are members of the industry association I lead.” The author adds that leadership at many career colleges support the Government of Canada’s recent efforts to stabilize the international student program and welcome opportunities to collaborate with provinces on designing more innovative training solutions to fill critical labour gaps.
York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering and Schulich School of Business have partnered with the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in China to launch a 3+1+1 program. Under this partnership, SUSTech College of Engineering students will complete their first three years of undergraduate studies in China, their fourth year at Lassonde, and a fifth year in their choice of one of four Schulich master’s programs. Upon graduation, students will have attained both a SUSTech Bachelor of Engineering and a Schulich master’s degree. “It offers mutual benefits not only for our students but also for our esteemed institutions, creating a unique platform for cross-cultural exchange and learning,” said YorkU Lassonde Dean Jane Goodyer.
Four researchers from the University of Alberta have published a study that discusses how UAlberta’s Rural Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC) program could help encourage family physicians to practice in rural communities. The researchers tracked medical graduates who graduated between 2009 and 2016 and found that those who completed the ICC program in their third year of medical school were more likely to go into rural or family practice than those who conducted their placement in an urban hospital. Program participation was a greater predictor of this outcome than whether the student had come from a rural community. Study co-author and UAlberta Professor Jill Konkin said that the program helps students become part of the community as they build relationships with patients, physician-teachers, and other healthcare workers. This in turn encourages them to consider working in a rural setting.
The University of Saskatchewan and IPB University in Indonesia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate new research collaboration and student learning opportunities. Over the next five years, the partners will explore research opportunities, academic program development, and potential student exchange and internship programs. “Our university’s international partnerships allow us to expand our reach and better position us to address the global challenges of today that will affect our collective futures,” said USask President Stoicheff.
Two colleges have launched programs as part of larger industry partnerships. Cégep de Trois-Rivières is offering an AEC program focused on industrial processes in green technology. The program follows a work-study model, in which students apply their learning directly in a company environment. Nouvelliste reports that the Government of Québec has invested nearly $600K into the program. Confederation College is working with CP Rail to relaunch its 12-week Railway Conductor Program, which follows Railway Alliance Canada standards and practices. Northern Ontario Business reports that the program was originally set to launch before the pandemic, but that it was delayed due to the need for hands-on training in small quarters.
An intervention program co-created by UCalgary Nursing Professor Dr Nicole Letourneau and Research Associate Dr Martha Hart is expanding to international audiences. The ATTACH (Attachment and Child Health) program, which was developed as an intervention tool for families affected by toxic stress in Canada, will soon be adopted in Brazil and will be adapted and tested for use in Denmark. According to Letourneau, the Denmark project has received $1M CAD for its implementation. “There has long been global interest and so we are very excited about this next phase to scale ATTACH internationally,” said Letourneau.

Indigenous Top 10

February 21, 2024

The University of Ottawa will be launching the Nidjìnawendàganag Living and Learning Community this fall. One floor of an existing UOttawa residence will be transformed into a space where Indigenous students can live, attend community events, and access knowledge keepers and Elders. The UOttawa alumni association has provided $500K over five years to cover the residence and meal plan costs for Indigenous students; an additional $10K each year will support cultural activities within the community. “By eliminating some of the stressors, we hope that it supports students and improves their learning outcomes and they feel safe and happy to be around other Indigenous learners,” said UOttawa Indigenous community engagement officer Darren Sutherland.
The Government of Manitoba has provided the Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program (IYMP) with $545K to support its expansion into 24 new sites—15 northern and rural areas and nine urban sites—over the next three years. IYMP fosters leadership and training skills in university and high school students who manage after-school programs and mentor younger students. “This is an incredible program that has real impact in young Indigenous people’s lives,” said University of Manitoba Acting Director of Indigenous Engagement and Communications Heather McRae. “In the last year alone, a thousand students have connected programs across the province. The Manitoba government contribution is making it possible to expand into new communities and schools which will have a lasting impact.”
School boards in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia are looking at strategies they can use to increase staff diversity. In NS, regional education centres are seeking to diversify their staff by recruiting teachers from Indigenous and other racialized communities and encouraging students to see education as a career option. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is working toward hiring Algonquin and Inuktitut language specialists to give students the opportunity to learn their own languages. Global News reports that the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle is calling for improved Indigenous teacher representation after a report showed that Winnipeg schools need 1,500 more Indigenous teachers to adequately reflect the Indigenous student population. In response to a report showing that the graduation rate for Indigenous students had dropped from 57% to 50%, Surrey Schools is identifying ways to increase the number of Indigenous students who graduate by 15-20% by 2028.
In a recent journal article published in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Sarah Elaine Eaton (University of Calgary) discusses the theoretical and practical considerations for decolonizing academic integrity. Eaton considers how Indigenous knowledge has been used in ways that have led to injustice and calls for traditional Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing to be preserved and protected. The author then outlines broad strategies for decolonizing academic integrity that focus on four key principles: Centering marginalized voices and perspectives in knowledge production; recognizing interconnectedness and contextualization; addressing historic oppression in academic integrity; and knowledge caretaking. She concludes with a call for institutions and educators to prioritize the decolonization of academic integrity to build a more just and equitable future.
McGill University, McMaster University, and First Nations University have announced new programs that will touch on Indigenous knowledge and culture. McGill and Mamu Tshishkutamashutau Innu Education have partnered to launch a two-year teaching certificate for Sheshatshiu and Mushua Innu. The program—which will not require a high school diploma—will cover the fundamentals of instruction and assessment and provide lessons on Innu-aimun and Innu culture. McMaster announced the launch of a master’s program in Indigenous Studies to give undergraduate students the opportunity to continue their studies at a higher level. The MA will prepare students to be leaders in Indigenous-led, community-based research, knowledge creation, and policy. In Saskatchewan, University of Regina Dean of Arts Dr Shannon Dea mentioned to CTV News that First Nations University of Canada is launching a new Indigenous journalism and communication arts program.
Students from Barrhead Composite High School recently took part in a teepee raising ceremony led by Robin Berard, who is originally from Bigstone Cree Nation. At the event, students worked together to put up a teepee and learned about the sacred teachings that are represented by components of the teepee. “They really did a good job, for their first time putting up a teepee,” said Berard. Among the lessons she shared, Berard explained how the teepee gets its strength from the three poles that form the structure’s frame—which represent the grandfathers, the grandmothers, and the child—and compared the strength of women need in the family unit to the teepee’s ability to continue standing in inclement weather. “You stand strong,” Berard said to the women who helped raise the teepee. “Don’t let anyone take that power away from you.”
Two postsecondary institutions—the University of Lethbridge and Lambton College—have announced new collaborations and projects with their Indigenous community partners. The ULethbridge and the Kainai Nation’s Blood Tribe Department of Health have embarked on an initiative named Sokkinakia’pi—“all that has to do with healing or health”—to build on existing Kainai health services by identifying the resources and opportunities they will need over the next decade. Lambton and Aamjiwnaang First Nation have initiated a project focused on biodiversity and the preservation of traditional knowledge. Through this project, Aamjiwnaang will be able to revitalize their land and create pollinator or food and medicine gardens or potentially establish an Indigenous Plant Nursery. It could also serve as a blueprint for addressing biodiversity challenges in other First Nations communities in Ontario. “This project represents a vital step towards reclaiming and revitalizing our land,” said Aamjiwnaang First Nation Chief Chris Plain. “It’s an opportunity to ensure our cultural practices endure and benefit future generations.”
At Hammarskjold High School in Thunder Bay, an Indigenous skilled trades training program is producing modular homes for a Matawa First Nations community. Students learn how to read blueprints, operate power tools, and identify building materials while they put together the modular homes. The first home completed by the school will be shipped to the community this summer; the second home is currently under construction. “If the trades are a career that they want to pursue, we’ll be there for them,” said Matawa First Nations CEO David Paul Achneepineskum. “What we find is when the students learn from these kinds of experience, they go back to their communities and they become leaders in terms of getting involved and getting things done, which is what the communities need.”
Karima Manji has pleaded guilty in an Inuit identity fraud case that was first reported on in March 2023. An agreed statement of facts entered into court says that Manji completed enrolment forms in 2016 that stated that her daughters, Nadya and Amira, were Inuit children adopted from an Iqaluit woman. Both applications were approved and enrolment cards were issued for Manji’s daughters, who reportedly were unaware that they were fraudulent. At a court hearing in Iqaluit, Manji pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5K; the charges against Nadya and Amira have been dropped. Nunavut Tunngavik stated that it will seek to recoup the over-$158K that was provided by the Kakivak Association to the sisters for their education-related expenses.
The General Education Diploma (GED) program will be replaced by the Canadian Adult Education Credential (CAEC) in the spring of 2024. The GED was developed by Pearson in 2002 and has been used in Canada as a high school equivalency test. However, Pearson recently notified Canadian jurisdictions that they can “no longer support the test due to outdated technology.” The CAEC is being collaboratively developed by the provinces and territories that have opted in to this credential. It will cover the same subject areas as the GED, but will include new Canadian content, including Indigenous perspectives. “Adult education allows Manitobans from all walks of life to access equal opportunities in our growing economy,” said MB Advanced Education and Training Minister Renée Cable. “This is why our government acted swiftly to introduce this new credential as a modern replacement to the GED, so adult education students are able to learn without interruption.”

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