Two Inuit women launched a workshop series over the summer to teach women how to create sealskin boots. Kimberly Pilgrim and Veronica Flowers started the workshops to continue the tradition of black-bottom sealskin boots. Pilgrim and Flowers are teaching women to create the boots, starting with how to hunt the seals and following the process through to the end where participants complete the boots. The participants learn about hunting and cleaning the seals, using each part of the seal, and stitching them together with a waterproof stitch. Additionally, Flowers’s brother created sheets that included the Inuttitut terms for parts of the seal. “It’s a really powerful way to enhance the workshops, being able to share and know the terms for everything,” said Pilgrim. “Whenever I get the chance to be able to say words in Inuttitut or learn new words and phrases, I’m very happy.”
Thompson Rivers University, the Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics (Tulo Centre), and the University of Canterbury have signed a Memorandum of Understanding focused on Indigenous-led programming. The MOU signed by all three institutions outlines a pathway for cooperation and collaboration on research; support; and building capacity for Indigenous public administration, governance, leadership, and economic development. “We are honoured to be a partner in supporting Indigenous students who will use their education to go forward and create meaningful change,” said TRU President Brett Fairbairn. “By signing this MOU, TRU strengthens and reinforces its commitment to serving Indigenous students and the communities of the region.” TRU and Tulo Centre also strengthened their existing relationship by renewing an MOU.
The University of Winnipeg Aboriginal Student Services Centre has gifted an Eagle Staff to the university. The staff is unique to UWinnipeg and was developed from the Creator’s gifts: Tree, animal, and bird materials. “From this point forward, the UWinnipeg Eagle Staff will lead the way in UWinnipeg Indigenous celebrations and ceremonies,” said UWinnipeg ASSC Coordinator Tanis Kolisnyk. “It’s a sacred item, a conduit of prayer to the Creator. It’s a powerful symbol of the Creator’s relationship with Indigenous people of this land, where we learn together, study, work, and are in community with each other.” The ASSC staff also gifted star quilts to carpenter Brian Wait and painter April Keenan, who built a unique storage case for the staff when it is not in use.
The Government of Yukon has announced two initiatives to improve student learning and wellbeing over the next three years. The territory is investing $1M into student support initiatives and resources, including culturally appropriate supports. Part of the funds will be used in partnership with YK First Nations governments to hire Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and other community leaders. YK is also creating 81 full-time student support positions over the next three years, which will include school wellness counsellors, education assistants, and learning assistance teachers. “The inclusion of wellness counselors and improved cultural supports represents a major milestone in our efforts to implement wrap-around support in all Yukon schools,” said YK Minister of Education Jeanie McLean.
A new elementary school in Langford has received a new name gifted by the Scia’new First Nation: SĆIȺNEW̱ SṮEȽIṮḴEȽ (pronounced schee-ay-nuh ska-leetk-luth). The name means “salmon children” in the SENĆOŦEN language. “SĆIȺNEW̱ represents the richness of the sea life in our region that sustains our land and people,” said Chief of Scia’new First Nation Russ Chipps. “SṮEȽIṮḴEȽ is one of the most important words in SENĆOŦEN language because it means children and, in our culture, they are our most precious resource.” The name also represents the Sooke School District’s commitment to reconciliation. Chipps noted that while the name might initially be difficult to pronounce, it is a metaphor for the learning children do at school, which is challenging at first but gets easier with practice and guidance. “Together we are learning the language of this land that was forgotten by force and I hope a school name in our language makes it better for not only our children but all children,” said Scia’new Elder Lavina Charles.
Capilano University has purchased Primacorp Ventures’ university campus property in Squamish, supported by $48M in funding from the Government of British Columbia. The 18-acre purpose-built campus—formerly used by Quest University—includes teaching spaces, a library, an athletic centre and sports field, and a cultural and creative activity area. As part of the plans for the campus, CapilanoU shared that it will work with local First Nations communities to define program priorities and co-create First Nations programs. “The new campus will provide opportunities for our youth in Squamish to seek post-secondary education close to home,” said Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) spokesperson Wilson Williams (Sxwíxwtn). “We look forward to continuing discussions with Capilano University about how to best serve our members and how we can help Indigenize the university’s programs.” North Shore News reports that CapilanoU is exploring options for operating a childcare centre and student housing on the campus property.
As the search for unmarked graves at McGill University’s former Royal Victoria Hospital site continues, the Mohawk Mothers (Kahnistensera) have expressed their frustration with not being adequately consulted or heard. APTN News reports that Kahnistensera was not consulted regarding communications issued by McGill and SQI about project progress, and that these communications excluded important information. APTN and The Eastern Door report that Kahnistensera have also called for Mohawk security guards after an incident where a security guard harassed the Mothers as they were leaving the grounds and had them removed from the space. “The process can no longer by any means be considered Indigenous-led, as the SQI and McGill attempt to control the whole process, reducing the role of Indigenous people to performing ceremonies on the site,” said Kahentineth of Kahnistensera.
Two individuals are calling on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to vet applicants who claim Indigenous identity and/or are applying to work in Indigenous-focused schools or programs. CBC reports that TDSB currently uses an honour system for those who claim Indigenous identity, and no policies or vetting process are in place. Michael Peters, who recently graduated from Kâpapâmahchakwêw – Wandering Spirit School in Toronto, said that uncertainty about whether some of the staff were Indigenous negatively impacted his learning experience. Deanne Hupfield, who helps guide TDSB’s curriculum and connects students with Indigenous services, noted that she had concerns with two Wandering Spirit teachers who had self-identified as Indigenous. Her interactions with these teachers also showed that they were likely misrepresenting their identity. “We have these people with no lived experience, no connection to any living Indigenous community and they are leading my Indigenous children,” said Hupfield. TDSB has said that it is creating a procedure that will be informed by Indigenous communities and will take identity into consideration.
Indigenous archaeological field school Anishinàbe Odjìbikan in Gatineau, Quebec will be limiting public access after its dig site was vandalized twice in four days. The first time that the site was vandalized, the team found that artifacts and equipment had been stolen. The team cleaned up the site and repaired the damaged equipment, but found the site vandalized again the next Monday. “We’re trying to educate people and trying to recover our own artifacts after previous years of genocide,” said supervisor Jennifer Tenasco. “To come here and be able to occupy the land and pick up our own ancestral artifacts and then to have someone come and destroy all the things that we brought here, and then also take artifacts — it’s very disheartening.” The field school will now be taking precautions to ensure the dig site is protected, which include cancelling public digs on weekends.
In a recent TVO Today article, Humber College StoryLab investigative journalist Kunal Chaudhary discusses how Canadian medical and nursing schools are taking steps to advance reconciliation. University of Manitoba Medical Student Jayelle Friesen-Enns explains how the admissions process can often be hostile to Indigenous students, who may find themselves preparing for the MCAT exam without the adequate time or financial resources. Chaudhary discusses responses to questions asked by Surviving Hate to Canadian medical schools; six out of 16 of the schools said they have a dedicated Indigenous health course, 11 offer placements in Indigenous communities, and nine mentioned that Indigenous faculty lead curriculum design. The article also includes responses from 26 nursing schools about changes made in response to the TRC Calls to Action: 13 of the nursing programs have a dedicated Indigenous health course, 17 weave Indigenous content throughout the curriculum, and 22 offer placements in Indigenous communities. The author also discusses the impacts of medical colonialism and Indigenous health in the global context.