Camosun College has launched a new certificate program that focuses on the relational, cultural, and strategic dimensions of Indigenous leadership. The Advanced Certificate in Ways of Indigenous Leadership & Learning (WILL) program will provide Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners with expertise in Indigenous leadership practices. The 20-month program is offered through Camosun’s Eyēʔ Sqậ’lewen and will be co-taught with Māori scholars and Knowledge Keepers from Aotearoa (New Zealand). “This is a really important Indigenous-led program that brings together people from many different Nations and sectors,” said Camosun WILL Program Coordinator Jessica Morin. “Students will deepen their leadership philosophies and develop unique and diverse strategies to support their leadership work in these complex times of change.”
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies has created a Fellowship Program for Indigenous entrepreneurs with a $375K donation from Greg Yuel. The SIIT Greg Yuel Fellowship Program will be a formalized mentorship program that provides students with access to education, capital, and networks over the course of two years to help them scale and grow their businesses. “Foundational to this program is economic reconciliation, this means creating a shift of narratives from dependency to abundance, lack of representation to visibility of First Nation communities engaged in the creation and growth of the economy,” said SIIT President Riel Bellegarde. “We can’t wait to see how these fellows will lead change in the future.”
The Seven Oaks School Division has announced that the new school under development in northern Winnipeg will be named École Mino Pimatisiwin School. The school’s name is an Anishinaabemowin phrase that translates to “the good life” and “celebrates what it means to be human and live in harmony in an interconnected world,” reports the Winnipeg Free Press. “When I was asked to name it, no other phrase came to mind but that; for me, this is the greatest honour,” said SOSD Elder-in-Residence Mary Courchene. SOSD Chairwoman Maria Santos agreed with Courchene’s hope that Mino Pimatisiwin would be more than just a name: “That’s what we want for all students—we want them to live a good life.” The dual-track kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school is expected to open in 2025.
Sagkeeng First Nation has completed construction on its new solar-powered greenhouse at the Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School. The project was started after youth in the community expressed interest in creating a community garden and took almost two years to complete. The greenhouse will provide learning opportunities, work experience, and food to the community. Sagkeeng Anicinabe expects to incorporate the greenhouse into its high school curriculum, and students from the school had the opportunity to choose the produce that the greenhouse will grow. Project manager Sara Fontaine said she appreciates the students’ help. “We’ve been talking about different things we can do like canning, planting berries around the community,” said Fontaine.
In several communities in Canada, Indigenous individuals are pursuing firefighter training to combat wildfires. The Government of Canada recently made a $28M commitment to a two-year pilot program, which will support the training of 1,000 new community-based firefighters. The Prince Albert Grand Council in Saskatchewan is training 125 Indigenous fire stewards, while Yukon First Nations Wildfire will run an intensive training program–including training on cultural burning–for 130 wildland firefighters. Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables and the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center recently collaborated with Mi’kmaq communities in NS to deliver wildland fire fighting training to Indigenous fire departments so that they are prepared to combat large forest fires. In Quebec, some Cree communities are receiving training from the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU). With the SOPFEU training, students will work as auxiliary forest firefighters, putting out “hotspots” or small fires while under SOPFEU supervision.
Lheidli T’enneh First Nation has broken ground on a new childcare centre. The facility will have space for 24 infants and toddlers, 25 children aged three to kindergarten, and 26 school-aged children; and the centre hopes to be able to provide 24/7 childcare to support shift workers, if possible. The Dakelh language and culture, elder involvement, storytelling, songs, dancing, and land-based learning will be emphasized within the programming. “Because we are on the traditional village site of the Lheidli T’enneh we are going to have a lot of Indigenous cultural influences in our curriculum. But it’s for everybody,” said Lheidli T’enneh councillor and project lead Kyle McIntosh. “I know staffing is really hard to get right now so we are going to have to be aggressive and hopefully everyone will want to work in a beautiful brand-new building.” The building is expected to be completed in Fall 2024.
Several universities in Nova Scotia—including Cape Breton University, Dalhousie University, Mount Saint Vincent University, and Saint Mary’s University—helped host the 2023 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) this year. With athletes representing 756 Indigenous nations descending on Halifax to participate in NAIG, Dal, MSVU, and SMU are hosting athletes—and in Dal’s case, coaches and staff—in its residences. The universities have opened a number of their facilities and have taken steps to make athletes more comfortable during their stay: Dal stated that athletes will have access to spaces such as the Indigenous Student Centre and campus dining halls, while SMU will be offering a special menu in its dining halls and has installed posters with welcome messages in Mi’kmaq and English across campus. CBU is named as a sponsor of the games. Two of the universities are also hosting events on campus: Dal is hosting basketball events at the Sexton and Dalplex gyms as well as swimming events at the Dalplex pool, while SMU will be hosting the wrestling and basketball competitions at its facilities.
Selkirk College and the Salish School of Spokane are working together to deliver a Beginners n̓syilxčn̓ 1 (pronounced in-seel-h-chin) language course this fall. Students in the course will develop their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in Salish. “This is such an important step for the college to support self-determination and language revitalization,” said Selkirk Director of Indigenous Education & Engagement Dianne Biin. The course is open to all learners with an interest in Salish language and culture, and Indigenous students can enroll in the course at no cost. Selkirk also recently broke ground on the Tenth Street Campus Indigenous Gathering Space at its Nelson campus. This Indigenous cultural gathering and ceremonial space will serve the community and provide Indigenous students with a place to practice cultural wellness and traditions, explore food sovereignty, and learn from Indigenous voices.
In a recent article for Montreal Gazette, Quinte Mohawk School Principal Jennifer Maracle-Westgate discusses how the school supports Indigenous students with initiatives that connect students to their culture and provide them with a positive learning environment. Culture is a primary focus of the school and students learn the Mohawk language and learn how to share stories in it. The school includes a full lunch program that is open to everyone, boasts murals with QR Codes to history lessons, and has a calming room. Maracle-Westgate said that students spend their days in and out of the classroom participating in a variety of activities and hands-on projects. “The kids have planted medicines,” said Maracle-Westgate. “We just did a tree project where they planted trees and they go out there and they can do socials or they’re doing science learning out there or talking about the medicines that they’ve planted and then tending to them. Last year, there were vegetables planted.”
Alberta Education is piloting the Bridging Classrooms to Communities (BCC) program, which intends to build relationships between Indigenous partners and local school authorities. The program aims to improve First Nations, Metis, and Inuit student educational outcomes and opportunities by helping organizations build relationships with local school authorities and supporting the hiring of community connection workers. The program is supported by a $10.5M investment from the Government of Alberta: Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA) will receive $7.5M for friendship centres within their network, while the remaining $3M will go to support up to 35 community connection projects from eligible Indigenous organizations. “These meaningful connections will help provide excellent opportunities for Indigenous students to feel heard and receive support to excel at school and in life now and in the future,” said AB Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson.