An elementary school in East Vancouver has been renamed in the dialect of the Musqueam people. The name wek̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm, meaning “the sun has risen,” was gifted to the former Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary School in East Vancouver in a ceremony led by Musqueam Band member Victor Guerin. Elder Larry Grant taught students and staff how to say the school’s new name in a ceremony. The new name reflects the the school’s location in the Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood. The renaming coincides with the completion of the new school building, which is reportedly the first seismically safe school built with mass timber in British Columbia. CBC reports that the renaming of the school is part of a broader movement to reconsider the names of schools, and that Gladstone Secondary School and Lord Strathcona Elementary School may also be renamed.
Two school boards have announced new partnerships with local Indigenous groups. Saskatoon Public Schools and the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre (SIMFC) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to collaborate and support Indigenous people across the city. The activities covered in the MOA include the creation of a youth leadership council, after-school recreation and wellness programming, land-based learning initiatives, language programming, and having elders present in the classroom. The new agreement formalizes an existing partnership between the two and will be in place until August 2027. In Moose Jaw, the Prairie South School Division (PSSD) and the New Southern Plains Métis Local 160 have signed a MOU to increase co-operation and work together on good outcomes for Métis students and beyond. The agreement includes topics such as the teaching of the Michif language and of Métis history in the region. As part of the signing, Métis Local 160 President Darrell Hawman presented PSSD Director of Education Ryan Boughen with an honorary Métis sash.
Peel District School Board (PDSB) has opened a new space for Indigenous learning at a former Caledon school site. The Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land-Based Learning will provide land-based learning opportunities and teach students about Indigenous ways of knowing in a safe and responsive environment. The centre will provide a work site for the Indigenous Education team; serve as an affinity space for Indigenous students; and be used for experiential learning opportunities, reconciliation-focused professional development, and partnership and network building with community and treaty partners. “We are thrilled to be able to welcome Indigenous students, families and community members to a space that honours Indigenous ways of knowing and upholds their inherent rights to their culture,” said PDSB Co-ordinating Leader of Indigenous education Nicole Reynolds. “This is an exciting step the board is taking toward their commitment to reconciliation and educational sovereignty.”
The First Nation School Board, the Yukon Department of Education, and Elections Yukon have officially announced a timeline and process for Yukon schools that may be interested in joining the First Nation School Board. School councils can submit a resolution between January 5 and 30 to request that their school join the First Nation School Board, or they can alternatively submit a petition that has been signed by 20% of the eligible electors requesting to join the board. A referendum vote will follow in February, in which the broader school community will be able to vote on the request. Communities that vote in favour will have their schools join the First Nations School Board in the 2023-24 school year.
The Université Laval and the First Nations Education Council (FNEC) have signed an agreement to create a business plan for Québec’s first Indigenous university centre. The Maison des savoirs initiative will take a holistic approach to education and provide a lifelong continuum of learning inspired by First Nations values, cultures, and languages. The university centre, supported by ULaval, will be responsible for every aspect of education to ensure that the languages, cultures, worldviews, and knowledge of Indigenous peoples are respected. “With the support of its member communities, FNEC is committed to pursuing its mission of bringing education entirely under the control of the First Nations,” said FNEC Director General Denis Gros-Louis. “We are confident that the business plan … will meet the real educational and training needs of our communities while drawing on and realizing the full potential of First Nations people.” ULaval also plans to double its number of Indigenous students thanks to a $15M donation from the Mastercard Foundation. The university will also use the funds to create new scholarships, programs of study, and safe spaces for Indigenous students using input from Indigenous youth and local Indigenous communities.
A group of health and kinesiology students at Queen’s University are petitioning for the development of an Indigenous health course that students from any program can access. The students recently completed a special topics course focused on Indigenous resilience, vitality, and health that is only available to upper year students in the program. Student Mariam Farooq told the Queen’s Journal that she believes an open health course led by Indigenous instructors would be beneficial. Nathan Brinklow, Queen’s associate head (Indigenous Studies) in Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, told the Journal that the curriculum is constantly being developed and reassessed across the university with an eye towards Indigenization, and encouraged students to speak to faculty if they want to see courses developed.
Langara College’s Applied Research Centre will be embarking on projects in partnership with Williams Lake First Nation and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC), thanks to new funding. The first project will develop a model of healing from the trauma of residential schools and hospitals in British Columbia with the goal of reducing alienation and suicide among Secwepemc youth; while the second project is focused on the development of a model of community-driven archival research to restore knowledge and dismantle untruths. Langara students and Secwepemc youth will work as research assistants on these projects alongside community members and research staff. The projects will help support Indigenous sovereignty and control for Indigenous researchers, as members of the Secwepemc community will be trained as peer researchers as part of this work, building capacity that will remain in the community moving forward.
At the University of Toronto Mississauga, Assistant Professor and Adviser on Indigenous Matriation Robin Gray is focused on the rematriation of Indigenous artifacts that are currently housed in the university’s department of anthropology. Gray explains that while repatriation is related to traditional Euro-western and patriarchal ideas about ownership and property, rematriation uses “the laws of the source nation” and that nation’s unique needs, priorities, and values. “(U of T Mississauga is) an institutional power and, as gatekeepers of the artifacts from the Antrex Village site, we have to consider our accountability,” said Gray, who added that she hopes to see other institutions take on “a more relational and decolonial approach in processes of return.” Gray is currently investigating how the items collected from the Antrex Site can be returned to their rightful owners. She will next focus on providing a map of next steps, research return poetics and politics in Ontario, and review other attempts to return artifacts in Ontario.
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and the Government of Canada have signed the NAN-Canada Education Reset Table Agreement. Under this agreement, NAN and Canada will continue to support the NAN education systems in providing safe, culturally appropriate, and high-quality education services that are sensitive to the circumstances, strengths and challenges of each community. The agreement also establishes the NAN-Canada Education Reset Table, which will develop a policy and funding framework that will enable NAN First Nations to have more control over their education systems. “Education is a priority, and this agreement puts us on a path to move forward in a good way,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse. “The Education Reset Table is a NAN-specific process supported by decision-makers from the federal government and NAN First Nations sitting at the table together. This will expedite our combined efforts to develop culturally appropriate curriculum that supports mental health and wellness, delivered through a safe and supportive school environment.”
Four students from the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake recently created a music video exploring Indigenous identity. École secondaire régionale Howard S Billings in Châteauguay, Quebec issued the challenge for Indigenous students to create a music video. The four students – Mercadies Kawisenhtaj Deer, Phoenix Teironhiathe Lahache, Wahientha Katelyne Cross, and Lola Rosa Onekwen Taraonerate Mcquaid – wrote the single “They Fly” and worked with the not-for-profit N’we Jinan program on the video for five days. The video premiered in front of the school at the Academic Awards Ceremony and received thunderous applause. “This proves to people that that stigma isn’t true at all and that native people can accomplish big things,” said Cross, who is in Grade 11. “I just hope that the younger generations see this and have expectations of this nature when they’re older.” Global News reports that the students say they will walk away from the experience knowing that stepping out of their comfort zone can take them to new heights.