New Indigenous arts projects and installations have popped up across Canada. Mi’kmaw artist Quentin Syliboy, who is from Sipekne’katik First Nation, was invited to talk about his paintings and teach art techniques at the Shubenacadie District Elementary School. Syliboy began to fundraise for money for art supplies and is using the funds to teach 219 students about Indigenous art. Holy Rosary Catholic Elementary School in London, Ontario unveiled a new mural about cultural acceptance and change created by artist Nancy Deleary of Chippewa of the Thames First Nation. At the University of Guelph-Humber, Ojibwe Artist Patrick Hunter has created two installations to make Indigenous students feel welcome and included. The installations include a mural that incorporates an eagle feather and floral designs and a design that is wrapped around the pillars in the library.
Holy Trinity Catholic School Division (HTCSD) in Moose Jaw has taken several steps to improve First Nations and Métis student engagement. The school district will continue to work with Knowledge Keeper Lyndon Linklater to facilitate Truth and Reconciliation-focused discussions, and the school district has also signed an agreement with the local Métis group. “Overall in our division right now, we’re focusing on students understanding the truth of what took place through residential schools in the past in order for us to move to a place with reconciliation,” said HTCSD Director of Education Ward Strueby. “We’ll continue to be having events in our school division having our Knowledge Keeper present and talking in each of our schools.” The school division has also purchased a teepee for each of their schools which provided an opportunity for the Knowledge Keeper to share about the story behind the teepee and how to set it up.
The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) will be expanding its partnership with the Stoney Nakoda Nation, thanks to a grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada. The program will involve ongoing Nakoda youth engagement and mentorship alongside the provision of veterinary services in the community. UCalgary veterinary students will learn from Stoney Nakoda elders and youth, watch and discuss the Ahomapénî; Relations and Rez Dogs documentary produced by the Stoney Nakoda Audio Visual Club, and provide veterinary services for animals in and around the community. The partnership will help address the shortage of veterinary professionals in Alberta’s rural regions, particularly in terms of large-animal doctors.
Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty has raised concerns about the Government of the Northwest Territories’ decision to remove the Chief Jimmy Bruneau School renovation plans from the territory’s budget. The renovation, which was reportedly in the budget for years, included updates to classrooms, upgrades to mechanical and electrical systems, the demolition of a residence wing, and the demolition and replacement of a bus garage. “There was no word, no discussion, no indication that it was going to be removed,” said Lafferty. “To me, it is unacceptable and disrespectful as part of being in partnership with them.” The project was moved back to the planning phase. CBC reports that the move is intended to prioritized the future construction of a new school rather than renovations on the old one.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology, Camosun College, and Centennial College have each announced programs that will provide free training and supports for Indigenous learners interested in working in in-demand fields. Centennial has partnered with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto and Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services to offer a fully funded Early Childhood Education – Indigenous Stream. Indigenous learners from Toronto and the Durham region will take part in part-time early childhood education studies and will be supported with free tuition, supplies, and allowances. Camosun and BCIT have received renewed funding and support for their Bridge Watch Rating program, which provides training and certification for Indigenous peoples and women in the marine industry.
High school students from Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation’s Nakoda Oyade Education Centre are studying bison herd health in an effort to protect and grow the number of bison in a local herd. The Bison Project, which is run by Canadian Light Source (CLS), aims to discover what bison are eating that is unhealthy for them and find a way to replace these things with other healthier items. Participating students gathered bison hair and soil samples from the grazing areas, as well as the plants the animals were eating, and analyzed them at the CLS with the IDEAS beamline. “We don’t want them to go extinct,” said student Armin Eashappie. “They helped us with everything. We got our tools, our clothes, our food from them. We used every single part of the buffalo, nothing was left behind…they even helped us make our homes – the teepees – we used the hides to cover them up.”
A new community hub in Iqaluit will be constructed, thanks to $7.2M from Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program and CanNor’s Inclusive Diversification and Economic Advancement in the North program. The Inuusirvik Community Wellness Centre will provide Nunavummiut with access to a variety of services and resources, including early language learning and cultural programs, childrearing and parenting support programs, land-based programs for youth, and community-led postsecondary and life-long learning initiatives. The building will be built in an environmentally friendly way using steel pipes to minimize its vulnerability to wind and permafrost thaw. “Our goal is to provide a home for community-serving organizations delivering programs and services for families in Iqaluit,” said Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre Executive and Scientific Director Gwen Healey Akearok.
Several organizations and governments have announced new funds and supports for Indigenous language learning and literacy. The Government of Canada announced $39.4M to support the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages in the territories. “Our vision is to have schools talking in our language, all the way from kindergarten to graduation,” said Dettah chief Edward Sangris, who added that he anticipates the funds to be put toward Willideh language programming in the Yellowknives Dene First Nation community’s school. The Nunavut Bilingual Education Society (NBES) also recently distributed about a hundred Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun literacy kits that include children’s books, colouring books, and workbooks for children up to 11-years-old. “I think there’s always been a desire to have something like this for children — and not just in school, but also at home,” said NBES Executive Director Jaypeetee Arnakak. The kits are funded by the territorial government. Similarly, Kehkimin Wolastoqey Language Immersion School recently worked with the Language Conservancy to create collection of books and an app to help students learn the Wolastoqey language. At an event introducing the tools to the public, Sitansisk First Nation Elder Maggie Paul explained that the benefit of the resources goes beyond kids, as teenagers, young adults, and older members of the community will be able to learn the language from the tools.
The Université de Montréal has launched a research centre focused on equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization. The Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la justice intersectionnelle, la décolonisation et l’équité (CRI-JaDE) brings together researchers, specialists, and students from a variety of disciplines to conduct research and mobilize knowledge. The centre will be co-directed by UMontréal professors Isabelle Archambault and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon. CRI-JaDE researchers will focus on topics related to resilience, exclusion, and oppression of Indigenous peoples and equity-deserving groups; practices that lead to EDI and decolonization; and using interdisciplinarity to find diverse approaches and solutions to issues. Archambault explained that the center’s interdisciplinary team will decompartmentalize research and allow partners from across fields to support one another in unique ways.
Students at Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, Northwest Territories recently took part in an on-the-land activity where they learned about caribou hunting and provided their community with caribou meat. In response to an idea from a student, experienced local hunters teamed up with a group of six students to take them hunting. “They wanted a community harvest but they had no knowledge on how to get up there, and what the terrain was going to be like,” said Inuvialuit Regional Corporation youth coordinator Megan Lennie. “So it was a perfect way to encourage knowledge sharing, and to provide meat to the entire school.” Together, the group harvested six animals, which were skinned and butchered at the school the next day. The community, including parents and elders watched and participated and were able to bring meat home.