The First Nations Public Service Secretariat (FNPSS) will receive $5.5M from the Government of British Columbia to support research on workforce needs and advance training and employment opportunities. The funding will boost the development and delivery of training for current and future First Nation government administrators, bolster programs that increase youth employment, and support mentorship and networking events. FNPSS will also conduct a labour market research project that will produce demographic data on First Nation public service workforce needs. This data will be used to strengthen First Nations governments’ capacities to deliver programs and services, manage fiscal resources, develop policy laws, support economic development, and manage intergovernmental relations and resources.
Several postsecondary institutions recently hosted ribbon skirt and shirt workshops to help students make their own ribbon skirts. Institutions across Atlantic Canada held workshops hosted by Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey in partnership with Indigenous Student Affairs offices, and Lakehead University and its Indigenous Student Services Centre held a workshop. Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey gifted each of the 15 participating institutions a sewing machine and kits for 10 skirts and two shirts. Kits were created by Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and included fabric that was sourced from a local Mi’kmaw store. At St Francis Xavier University, students took part in a two-day workshop in which they created a ribbon skirt while building connections with other Indigenous students. “Any opportunity to connect with other Indigenous students and feel the culture in a university setting feels good,” said StFX student Alice Frost, who is from the Yukon. Lakehead’s Indigenous Student Services Centre also held a Ribbon Skirt Making Workshop to help students celebrate their culture.
School District 43 in Coquitlam, BC has partnered with kʷikʷəƛəm First Nation to create a custom Minecraft world that teaches students about kʷikʷəƛəm culture and history. Students at École Montgomery Middle School showed CBC how they can interact with and learn from items that were added to the game. Culturally iconic species of plants and animals—including cedar trees and bears—were added to ensure the game world reflected the culture and history. “We have to have cedar — it is the heart of the whole community here on the West Coast,” said School District 43’s Indigenous education resource teacher Rob Cowie. “They were gracious enough to actually rename and re-skin certain trees that were in the game so that we could have cedar.” The world also includes unique limits such as only allowing players to harvest one salmon. “We want to be resourceful and not waste food,” said Montgomery student Ara Bella.
The McMaster University Indigenous Research Institute (MIRI) has released a living guidance document for researchers whose work engages with Indigenous Peoples and communities. The MIRI Indigenous Research Primer provides advice on how to conduct community-based participatory research, outlines Indigenous methods and research paradigms, and provides guidelines on what to do if a community does not consent to being involved in the proposed research. “As researchers, we all have our curiosities. We have our passions and our interests,” said MIRI Director Savage Bear. “But when you want to work with an Indigenous community or individuals, none of these might be their concern. We need to follow the community’s lead.”
The Circle of Indigenous Youth and Allies (CIYA) at Maple Ridge Secondary recently hosted a toy drive to help those who are in need during the holiday season. Rambo’s Toy Drive was organized entirely by Indigenous leadership students who wanted to highlight the giving nature of their community. Karen Aitken, an adult involved with CIYA, said that the students view the toy drive like the traditional gift giving ceremony potlach. The event included carols sung by the school’s choir and free hot chocolate provided by the CIYA students. Leadership students from Eric Langton Elementary will come to Maple Ridge to ensure that battery-operated toys have batteries and to help distribute the gifts. “The more community is involved, the more celebration it can bring,” said Aitken.
A Québec judge has ordered McGill University to comply with a deal it had previously reached with Kanien’kehá:ka Kahnistensera (the Mohawk Mothers) on the search for unmarked graves at the former Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal. The Mohawk Mothers argued that McGill and Québec’s infrastructure agency did not properly involve a panel of archaeologists who had been appointed to oversee the search. In response, McGill argued that the panel’s mandate had already expired. Superior Court Justice Gregory Moore rejected McGill’s argument and ordered the university to abide by the panel’s recommendations to guide how they continue the search. Moore rejected the Mohawk Mothers’ request that the excavation work be suspended, asserting this would be unnecessary.
Stoney Education Authority closed Nakoda Elementary School and Mînî Thnî Community School for three days last week after a “large number of staff and students” became ill. Stoney Health Services CEO Aaron Khan clarified that the measures were prompted by the prevalence of cold and flu-like symptoms. “There were some kids that were still coming to school but after being seen by a nurse, had to be sent home,” said Khan. “The decision is really based on the interests of the community.” Khan noted that the community is currently facing challenges with overcrowding and that multiple generations often live in the same household. He told Mountain View Today that closing the schools will keep the illnesses from spreading further.
Université Laval has partnered with BMO to launch the BMO Young Indigenous Leaders Program. The program will improve access to scholarships, partnerships and community projects, mentorships, and more in order to support the academic and professional journey of Indigenous forestry students. The program is led by the ULaval Chair of Educational Leadership in Indigenous Forestry Jean-Michel Beaudoin and supported by a $500K donation from BMO. “BMO and Université Laval share a desire to showcase the voices, legitimacy and skills of young First Nations leaders,” said ULaval Rector Sophie D’Amours. “This distinctive experiential program will strengthen the development of their forestry skills and entrepreneurial spirit.”
Students at Caledon’s Maawnjidiing Wiingushkeng Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land-Based Learning recently launched a 12-foot birchbark canoe that was built by eight students under the tutelage of traditional canoe builder Chuck Commanda (Kitigan Zibi). Students learned how to build a canoe with all-natural materials such as spruce root, wood nails, spruce sap, and animal fat while learning stories, teachings, and traditional knowledge from Commanda. “They built the entire canoe, from beginning to end, using all-natural materials, the way our ancestors used to make them,” said Peel District School Board Coordinating Vice-Principal of Indigenous Education Nicole Reynolds. Students had a chance to take the canoe they built on a voyage, and all participants received a credit toward their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The canoe will be brought to each students’ home school so they can share their experience with their school communities.
A long-lost artifact from the 1885 Resistance has been repatriated to the Gabriel Dumont Institute’s (GDI’s) Métis Museum. The item—a Hollis & Son’s Hudson’s Bay Company Indian Trade Fusil—was taken from the Métis or a First Nations ally in 1885 by an Ontario-based soldier and later was stored at the Fanshawe Pioneer Village (FPV) in Ontario. GDI and FPV agreed that the fusil should be repatriated to GDI to hold in trust on behalf of the Métis as an act of reconciliation. “A heartfelt maarsii should be directed to Matthew and Dawn and to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village, and to the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum for allowing this artifact to come home to Saskatchewan and to the Métis,” read a statement from GDI.