Students in the Peel District School Board (PDSB) will soon have a new space for lndigenous learning. The school board has approved a proposal to develop a Centre for Indigenous Excellence and Land Based Learning at the former Credit View Public School site. The centre will provide an affinity space for Indigenous students and will take a sovereign approach to immersing them in Indigenous education. It will also provide a work site for the Indigenous Education Team, a field centre for experiential learning opportunities, a location for building networks and partnerships, and will support capacity building and staff professional development.
A K-6 school in Pilick, New Brunswick has been renamed to honour the vision of two elders and to reflect a more holistic educational approach. The Wulastukw Elementary School has now been renamed Wulastukw Wolokehkitimok, which translates to “a place of holistic learning.” The name was chosen to honour the efforts that the late Pilick elders Veronica Atwin and Charles Solomon made to keep the Wolastoqey language alive. The school incorporates language, culture, land-based teachings, and Wolastoqey ways of knowing, and includes Montessori-style education so that students can learn at their own pace. “The model itself is built for developing the wellbeing of the child so they will be able to overcome these challenges once they leave this community,” said Kingsclear First Nation Director of Education Jesse Simon. The community also announced that its official first language is now Wolastoqey.
The Government of Alberta has announced $3.25M in funding to support Indigenous learners. The funding will support increased programming and seats for Indigenous learners at public postsecondary institutions and First Nations colleges. $1M will be used for workforce development initiatives, which will be developed using input from stakeholders, while $750K will go towards Trade Winds to Success Training Society to create 100 spaces over three years to train skilled tradespeople. “I am very pleased that the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Advanced Education has committed to supporting the five FNAHEC post-secondary institutions in Alberta with additional funding to continue our important work with the First Nations in Alberta,” said Old Sun Community College President and chair of the First Nations Adult Higher Learning Consortium Maurice Manyfingers. “This new funding and added resourcing will facilitate the lifelong learning of the Blackfoot and Siksika culture, language, history and knowledge to our future generations.”
Indigenous individuals in rural parts of the the Northwest Territories need better grade school education so that they are prepared to work in the territory’s government, writes Amy Tucker for CBC. Though the territorial government wants to increase the percentage of Indigenous individuals working in the government, Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government councillor Leonard Kenny said that grade school education in smaller communities must be re-evaluated so that students are prepared to take on positions in government. Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government Chief Danny Gaudet described the education system as “really, really bad,” and said that the grade school education provided in his community is so weak that graduates often must upgrade their education to qualify for postsecondary. “We really need to have a real serious conversation about education, because I think in the end, if you work for the public sector, a big chunk of it is you have to have an education,” said Gaudet.
The NunatuKavut community council (NCC), the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District have signed a memorandum of understanding that will focus on providing more Inuttitut education and traditional knowledge in schools. Under the agreement, the partners will establish a working group that works on a variety of initiatives, including developing a NunatuKavut Inuit curriculum that will be available across NL, fostering the development of resources addressing the legacy of the residential school system and the experiences of NunatuKavut Inuit survivors, and exploring the possibilities for developing an Inuttitut language education in schools. The objectives of the MOU will be implemented using a joint action plan and reporting to ensure accountability. CBC reports that NCC Chief Governance Officer Amy Hudson did not confirm whether the curriculum would address the council’s disputed Indigeneity.
New funding from the Government of Canada and provinces such as the Government of Manitoba will support early learning and childcare projects across Canada, several of which involve Indigenous communities and researchers. The federal government recently invested funds into a variety of projects supporting ECE research and learning. These included the University of Winnipeg Student Association Daycare’s work to develop and test a safe outdoor play area for culturally appropriate Indigenous learning and programming while providing staff with Indigenous professional development; as well as the YMCA of Northwest Avalon’s project on recruitment and retention of ECE professionals for rural and underserved communities, including Indigenous communities. Canada and MB also announced that they would provide $300K to help 24 childcare facilities develop and implement Indigenous-focused cultural programming.
The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies has launched the Pawâcikêwikamik Mobile MakerLodge, which aims to foster innovation, emphasize culture, and support economic opportunities. Pawâcikêwikamik is a Plains Cree word that means “a lodge supporting those who dream.” The MakerLodge contains a variety of cutting-edge technology including a Tesla Model 3, 3D printers, drones, sewing machines, hydroponics towers, and virtual reality equipment. It provides training alongside the technology kits so that communities can explore these technologies more thoroughly. “The intention is to foster creativity and innovation, while emphasizing culture, language, kinship and connection,” said SIIT President Riel Bellegarde. The MakerLodge was funded by Crown Investments Corporation, Prairies Economic Development Canada, SaskEnergy, SaskPower, and SaskTel.
Grade 12 students at Semiahmoo Secondary in Surrey, British Columbia recently worked with the Semiahmoo First Nation (SFN) to create a short documentary about the school’s history. The documentary, titled Truth and Reconciliation: A Tribute to the Semiahmoo First Nations, includes interviews with SFN Chief Harley Chappell and several faculty members of the school and the Surrey school district. “The idea came about when we began learning about the wrongdoings that Semiahmoo Secondary had done with the Semiahmoo First Nation during the forming of the school,” explained student Simrit Mangat. The school did not have permission for the use of its name and it originally used the Totems as its athletics mascot, which was later changed to the Thunderbirds in consultation with the Semiahma people. The documentary was distributed to teachers throughout the school and the district for use in class.
In an article for CBC, senior investigative journalist Geoff Leo has raised questions about University of British Columbia professor Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s claims to Indigenous ancestry. Some Indigenous scholars have additionally called on Turpel-Lafond to present proof of her ancestry since she has publicly said she is of Cree descent. UBC’s director of university affairs Matthew Ramsey said that “Indigenous identity was not a criterion” for positions held by Turpel-Lafond at UBC, and that her “identity is her own and the university is not going to comment on it.” Some Indigenous organizations in Saskatchewan and BC have expressed support for Turpel-Lafond, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) issued a statement saying that “[w]e understand that Chief Kelly Wolfe of Muskeg Lake First Nation, and her kinship family, all confirm that Dr Turpel-Lafond is part of their community under their Indigenous laws.” CBC reports that Turpel-Lafond has said she will not share private records, but that she has said her father was adopted from a Cree family.
The University of Toronto Mississauga has officially opened its first independent Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII-UTM). The office has been tasked with expanding the university’s appeal to a broader audience from Indigenous backgrounds and building stronger, reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities. “OII-UTM will work to support Indigenous students, staff, faculty and librarians at UTM as well as inspire future Indigenous students to a welcoming and inclusive UTM community,” explained OII-UTM Director Tee Duke, who is a member of Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation. “We will continue to promote equity and inclusion of Indigenous people among students, staff, faculty, librarians and throughout the campus.” Duke shared that she hopes to help create the right environment on campus for Indigenous people at UTM through the creation of new dedicated spaces such as the tipi that has been erected outside of Maanjiwe nendamowinan and the opening of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Office. “I am excited for what paths lie ahead for us – our community here at UTM,” said Duke.