George Brown College’s newly released Indigenous Education Strategy outlines the steps the institution will take to support Indigenous education. The strategy is grounded in reconciliation, and outlines a holistic approach that centres Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing. It is guided by the Anishinaabe concept of Mino-Bimaadiziwin, which is a value system of achieving a “good quality of life.” “Our new Indigenous Education Strategy is a living, fluid document,” said George Brown Director of Indigenous Initiatives Audrey Rochette. “It will continue to change, expand and pivot to meet the evolving needs of our community. The strategy embraces a holistic approach — centred around Mino-Bimaadiziwin and wellbeing of our community at George Brown.”
An Indigenous woman from Winnipeg has spearheaded the Your Voice is Power program, which will give high school students from across Canada the opportunity to learn how to code while remixing songs from Indigenous artists. The hip hop coding program, which is supported by Amazon Future Engineer, aims to promote equity and increase the number of Indigenous individuals working in the technology field. The program will teach coding skills to students from grades 7-12 as they engage with classroom topics such as residential schools and the 60s scoop. The website and materials are available in English, French, Ojibwe, and Inuktitut. Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon Music, Taking it Global, Connected North, the University of British Columbia, and Code to Learn partnered to make the program relevant to Indigenous youth in Canada.
Fleming College and Trent University have announced a new partnership that will expand pathways to further education for Indigenous students. The pathways will allow eligible graduates of Fleming’s Ecosystem Management Technology, Environmental Technology, and Fish and Wildlife Technology programs to complete a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Indigenous Environmental Studies in an additional two years. Indigenous students in Fleming’s Early Childhood Education and Educational Support programs will also be able to transfer credits into Trent’s Indigenous Bachelor of Education degree. “The Indigenous-focused degree programs at Trent aim to support generations of Indigenous youth by producing greater numbers of role models,” said Professor David Newhouse, chair of the Chanie Wenjack School of Indigenous Studies at Trent.
Some schools in Quebec Cree communities have opened for full-time in-person classes after weeks of online learning due to high COVID-19 numbers. Whapmagoostui, Wemindji, Eastmain, Waswanipi, and Nemaska students have returned to their classrooms, while those with higher COVID-19 numbers are either using a hybrid model or continuing with 100% remote instruction. A variety of safety measures have been put in place, such as physical distancing, hand washing stations, and daily health checks. “We’re very happy that we’re able to move forward,” said Sarah Pash, Cree School Board Chairperson. “School is really an important support in students’ lives, socially and emotionally and mental health-wise.” Pash says that the in-person education and access to extra supports at school will benefit students who are falling behind or do not have ideal home environments.
The Government of Prince Edward Island Department of Education is preparing to add to the grade school curriculum to help students learn more about the Island’s Indigenous history. “We knew there [were] chapters that hadn’t been told yet,” said Jack Headley, grade 7-12 social studies curriculum lead. “We wanted to add the Indigenous perspectives, some Indigenous content, Indigenous knowledge, some Indigenous ways of knowing, and we knew we had to seek the advice of the Indigenous community to help us with that journey.” Headley explained that the development has been underway for several years, as there are few ready-made PEI-specific resources. The new curriculum will be piloted in Grade 7 and 8 classrooms this fall, with the intent of revising it and introducing it in schools Island-wide in 2023.
The University of Manitoba and the Mastercard Foundation have announced a new partnership called EleV that will support Indigenous youth and foster systemic change through a $16.1M gift. The EleV program will involve Indigenous communities, organizations, governments, and postsecondary institutions. Projects under the program include the creation of a series of community learning hubs across Manitoba that will provide additional learning supports to Indigenous students who are completing courses by online learning. UManitoba also recently announced that the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has partnered with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council on a national research program that will focus on reconciliation and residential schools.
A new campaign has been launched to encourage Inuit students in Nunavik to complete their high school education by sharing personal stories of perseverance. The campaign aims to provide culturally relevant materials that are inclusive of the experiences of Nunavimmiut youth during School Perseverance Days. The campaign includes “perseverance murals,” a “send a postcard” program, and videos in which Nunavimmiut describe situations where they persevered. “Inuit are generally very humble people, so sometimes people don’t want to come across as showing off or boasting,” said co-ordinator Sylvia Cloutier. “But this is really in the spirit of sharing, so that we can encourage young people to look at perseverance in the way that we did in the old days.”
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) have formally shared the co-developed improvements to the School Space Accommodation Standards, which will provide greater flexibility for school design. The updates will apply to all ISC-funded schools and major renovation projects. The updates include increased on-reserve school sizes and space for full-day kindergarten, language and culture rooms, knowledge keeper offices, counselling rooms, and outdoor learning spaces. “These new standards, designed by First Nations for First Nations place our people as global leaders in Indigenous-led school building standards,” said AFN Regional Chief Bobby Cameron. “First Nations now have the opportunity to lead the design of the spaces most compatible with our ways of learning.”
The Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay has announced that it is creating a program that will train Cree midwives. The program seeks to return birthing to the territory and enable community members who would like to become midwives but are unable to leave the community for training. The program will pair students with a midwife, healthcare provider, or knowledge-keeper, and will use Indigenous ways of learning to train students. The program is modelled after Nunavik’s Inuulitsiviup Nutarataatitsijingita Ilisarningata Aulagusinga (INIA) education program, which has good outcomes. The program will take up to five and a half years to complete, and may begin as early as June 2022. “It will have really positive ripple effects throughout the community in ways that you can’t even imagine,” said Jasmine Chatelain, the planning, programming and research officer with Cree health’s Eeyou Istchee midwifery education program. “Eeyou Istchee always had midwives, and it’s time to restore that.”
The Government of Manitoba is partnering with Indigenous Languages of Manitoba Inc to build Indigenous language proficiency, literacy, and translation capacity in the province. MB will be providing a one-time $300K grant to support the creation and operation of two language programs over the next three years. “Our people have a right to their language and to be connected to their cultures, and just as the calls to make language a priority have remained loud and strong, we are finally moving to build sustainable immersion environments that focus on the development of language speakers,” said ILM Executive Director Melanie Kennedy. “This funding will give us the opportunity to balance the scales to build long-term capacity and to genuinely make an impact when it comes to the survival of our languages while paving a path of acceptance and opportunity for our children and future generations.” The outcomes of the proposed programming include speakers and translators in Dakota, Michif, Ininímowin (Cree), and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe).