Concordia University and Kiuna College have established a transfer agreement that will foster the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers. Graduates of Kiuna’s First Nations Languages and Indigenous Cinema programs will now be able to transfer credits toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Concordia. The partnership aims to remove barriers to Indigenous representation in cinema and enable Indigenous filmmakers to hone their skills and voices. “Through this partnership, we hope to encourage a new generation of creators,” said Kiuna Director Prudence Hannis. “It is our hope that Kiuna will become a natural conduit for young Indigenous students who are passionate about the world of film.”
The Tla’amin Nation and School District 47 (SD47) have signed the Tla’amin Education Agreement, a contract that will lay the groundwork for the best educational outcomes for Tla’amin students. The education agreement is expected to improve the learning experience for students through educational programs, pedagogical approaches, inclusive spaces, and the promotion of understanding and reconciliation across the school community. “We see in our partner a renewed commitment to this relationship and sense of accountability through their expanding Indigenous education department and staff, increasing inclusion of our language and culture in schools, their welcoming our participation on their board and strategic planning, and their plan to change their name,” said the Tla’amin Nation in a formal statement. “We are, of course, deeply invested in our students’ development and well-being as Tla’amin children and the new TEA aligns with several goals identified in təms kʷʊnəmɛn (our vision), which is our five-year comprehensive nation plan.” A recent newsletter from Tla’amin Nation also indicates that SD47 has committed to removing Powell River from their name and will work with the nation to seek name options.
Three Indigenous training, skill development, and innovation initiatives have received $2.1M from FedNor to support learning and job placements in the Thunder Bay region. Matawa Training and Wellness Centre will use $1M for renovations to support its Increase Skills Development Project. “The investments today will enable renovations to the third floor of another part of [the centre’s] building, including the construction and upgrading of five classrooms, a computer lab, multi-use trading rooms, a resource centre, client program area and an apprentice streaming workshop,” said Matawa First Nations Management Rosemary Moonias. “We are now able to make these classrooms smart classrooms.” Confederation College will receive $890K to support the Evergreen Outdoor Classroom project. The college is developing an area with a fully accessible learning site, additional seating, medicine gardens, integrated gardens, and more. Lakehead University will receive $234K to support the establishment of a Centre for Healthy Ecosystems and Environmentally Conscious Economic Development.
The University of Saskatchewan has launched a two-year pilot program that will connect Indigenous students with STEM mentors. Indigenous students who participate in the Indigenous Student Achievement Pathways (ISAP) STEM+ program will have access to mentorship and work experiences that will help them build their resumes and prepare for their future careers. Their ISAP STEM+ experiences will also be documented on their Co-Curricular Record. “STEM+ students will be coached to identify transferable skills they’ve learned in those workplace experiences, which they can bring back to campus to apply as academic assets in their programs,” said ISAP team lead Dr Sandy Bonny.
The Government of Newfoundland & Labrador will be providing over $900K to fund the expansion of the Office for Indigenous and Northern Skilled Trades to Corner Brook and St. John’s, as well as to maintain the office’s existing location in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The office was opened in 2020 with the mandate to raise Indigenous representation in the NL building and construction trades to 15%, and it pursues this mandate by removing barriers with partnership and outreach activities and employment and training supports. These supports include offering exam preparation for trainees, arranging wage subsidy funding for placements, and maintaining a database with forecasts of skills requirements. With three offices, the Office will be able to ensure that the offered programs, policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms support status and non-status Indigenous peoples looking to enter the Skilled Trades. “We are thrilled to be increasing our ability to serve Indigenous peoples across our province,” said Darin King, Executive Director of Trades NL. “Trades NL remains committed to ensuring Indigenous people with an interest in the skilled trades receive our encouragement and support to ply their talents in the rewarding work tradespeople perform every day.”
Three programs have recently been launched in the Northwest Territories to build northerners’ skills. Journalists for Human Rights and the Google News Initiative have partnered to launch The Northern Journalism Training Initiative, a four-week training program through which northerners can develop their journalistic storytelling skills. “We really just want to see more northerners — more Indigenous northerners — telling their own stories, in their own communities, from their own communities, about their own communities,” said program lead Kaila Jefferd-Moore, a Haida journalist and professional communications consultant who grew up in Inuvik. The Dene Wellness Warriors healing group and Rhodes Wellness College in Vancouver are collaborating to offer an Indigenous counselling training program. The two-year program, which was first trialed in May 2022, aims to prepare Indigenous counsellors to provide services to residential survivors and their families. NWT has also announced that it is launching small-scale pilots of Northern Studies 30—a high school course that covers land, governance, wellness, and reconciliation. The course was developed through engagement with Indigenous governments and other education partners. The territorial government is also working with the Gordon Foundation to launch three pilot treaty simulations in high schools.
While the reaction to the implementation of compulsory Indigenous-focused courses has been overwhelmingly positive, some people are concerned about how education on Indigenous issues has been siloed into certain areas. University of Manitoba professor and Anishinaabe educator Niigaan Sinclair told CBC that though greater representation of Indigenous voices is positive, it must be done across all disciplines rather than in a select few. “The problem with putting Indigenous perspectives only in … the social sciences or the humanities is that we frame Indigenous peoples often times as problems, as something to be solved,” said Sinclair. Sinclair noted that including Indigenous literature is a good place to start, but argues that “[r]econciliation will only exist in schools when we see it in every aspect of a student’s experience.”
Algoma University and Mattagami First Nation (MFN) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand Indigenous STEAM community-based education and training opportunities and enhance cross-cultural understanding. The partners will develop and deliver the Waawaaskonwe – Niigan (There is a Light – Ahead) program to give youth from northern communities the opportunity to learn about STEAM through both traditional ways of knowing and western teachings. AlgomaU’s Anishinaabe Academic Resource Centre will also offer the Gabegendaadowin Training Program to enhance cross-cultural understanding.
A hairstyling program at the College of the Rockies is honouring the cultural significance of hair for Indigenous people by including lessons about Indigenous culture and inviting elders to share their knowledge. COTR instructor Gwen Stewart, who has worked on incorporating Indigenous content into the curriculum for seven years, learned about the significance of hair from an Ojibwe colleague. She now passes on this lesson by teaching students to ask Indigenous clients if they would like to keep their hair after it is cut and inviting Indigenous elders into the classroom to teach students about truth and reconciliation. The program also engages with the community, and recently instructors and students offered hair braiding at the ?aqamnik’ School Traditional Powwow in Cranbrook. “There’s [been] a lot more acceptance [of Indigenous culture] since I’ve been in this program,” said Métis student Barbie Torres. “[The instructor] brought such diversity and equity to the program.”
The Government of Saskatchewan has officially marked February 2023 as Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Month. The Library Services for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples, Inc has been hosting the project for 20 years, and it will continue to be recognized by schools hosting events and inviting speakers to share Indigenous culture with students. Connected North educator Jasmyn Albert shared that learning stories told to her by her grandmother influenced her decision to become a teacher: “I was taught that as long as we share our stories, they stay alive. When I am in front of Indigenous students, I can feel the connection they are making. It lights up the spirit.” First Nations and Métis Education Consultant Sharon Meyer, who is from the Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation, visited with students in Tisdale, Naicam, and Melfort, and shared her stories and curriculum through a website called Kôhkum’s Gathering. In Prince Albert, artist and writer Leah Dorion and Elder Curtis Breaton kicked off the month by speaking at Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s library and reading Métis Christmas Mittens.