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Issue #120
November, 2019

First Nations Elementary-Secondary Education: A National Dilemma

Source: Waubageshig, Former Director of Education, Cree School Board, James Bay, Quebec and co-founder, Indigenous Studies, Trent University, Peterborough.

Summary: First Nations elementary-secondary education has been the focus of some useful recommendations in two major reports: the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in 2011, “Reforming FN Education: From Crisis to Hope,” and the 2012 Report of the National Panel on First Nations Elementary-Secondary Education.

Both reports identified much-needed reforms and despite vociferous opposition by a majority of FN leaders the First Nations Education Act was a serious effort to accommodate some of them. But neither the reports nor the eventually torpedoed Bill C-33 zeroed in on the three key components that serve as the foundation of any education program: teachers, principals, and the curriculum. If these three elements remain untouched in the new Liberal government’s First Nations education policies, First Nations education outcomes will continue to be a national humiliation.

Since the 1950s, these elements in First Nations education have not received the degree of critical attention they should have from First Nations and other educators, largely because all three fall under the jurisdiction of provincial ministries of education. And since the federal government is the principal government that interacts with First Nations, provincial legislatures tend to be ignored by FN leaders, often at their peril.

To dream together: Indigenous peoples and human rights dialogue report

Source: Ontario Human Rights Commission

Summary: Background and context

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has a mandate under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) to address and prevent systemic discrimination and advance a fair and inclusive society where everyone is valued and treated with equal dignity and respect. The Code prohibits actions within provincial jurisdiction that discriminate against people, including Indigenous peoples, based on a protected ground in five protected social areas. Our 2017-2022 strategic plan, Putting people and their rights at the centre, commits to reconciliation and advancing the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

We are taking active steps along this path. One of the most important was to bring together diverse Indigenous people and members of the human rights community, as part of a three-day (February 21 – 23, 2018) Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Dialogue, to discuss a vision of human rights that reflects Indigenous perspectives, world views and issues. The OHRC hosted the dialogue with York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in collaboration with Indigenous knowledge keepers, academics and organizations, at the Native Canadian Centre.

This report summarizes key points of the discussion and recommendations arising from this dialogue, which featured the collective wisdom of Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, academics, political and government leaders, advocates, lawyers, policy makers and activists. Representatives of the OHRC, Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Social Justice Tribunals of Ontario, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission also took part.

Participants discussed several key questions, including:

  • What are Indigenous perspectives of human rights?
  • What might Indigenous world views, constitutions and laws contribute to the ongoing evolution of human rights?
  • How can federal and provincial statutory human rights institutions, including commissions, tribunals and legal service organizations, adapt their processes to better advance Indigenous peoples’ human rights? What, if any, amendments would be required to existing human rights legislation to ensure Indigenous peoples’ human rights are better protected?
  • What are the most effective ways to implement a broad range of human rights set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) at the federal and provincial levels? What legal or policy considerations should be addressed?

Language Nest Handbook – Companion Toolkits

Source: First Peoples’ Cultural Council

Summary: The Language Nest Online Toolkit is a collection of resources for language nest programs in First Nations’ communities. The toolkit is intended to act as a companion resource to the Language Nest Handbook for B.C. First Nations Communities. While the Handbook provides an overview of the language nest model, along with strategies for overcoming common challenges, the Language Nest Online Companion Toolkit contains a variety of practical resources to help with the day-to-day running of a language nest, as well as information and links to Indigenous language immersion programs worldwide.

This toolkit is intended as a starting point for finding resources and information; it is not a comprehensive list of every resource available.

Reel Injun

Focus: Senior secondary students

Summary: In this feature-length documentary, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond takes an entertaining and insightful look at the portrayal of North American Indigenous people throughout a century of cinema. Featuring hundreds of clips from old classics as well as recent releases, the film traces the evolution of the “Hollywood Indian.” Diamond guides the audience on a journey across America to some of cinema’s most iconic landscapes and conducts candid interviews with celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Robbie Robertson and Jim Jarmusch. The film is a loving look at cinema through the eyes of the people who appeared in its very first flickering images and have survived to tell their stories in their own way.

Martin Family Initiative Courses Help Indigenous Youth Catch the Entrepreneurship Bug

Source: Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Susanna Cluff-Clyburne – 03/10/2019
Canada cannot compete globally and protect the social safety nets we hold dear unless all people have the same opportunities to participate in and benefit from our economy. That includes ensuring opportunities are available to our Indigenous peoples, Canada’s youngest and fastest growing demographic.

This is why the Canadian Chamber strongly supports the Martin Family Initiative’s Indigenous entrepreneurship education programs. The Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program (AYEP) offers courses for Indigenous high school students. The Indigenous Entrepreneurship Course (IEC) will be offered for the first time this fall at six colleges in British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Saskatchewan to Indigenous youth and adults who have left the formal education system but want to explore the opportunities of starting their own businesses.

Click here to learn more about the Martin Family Initiative’s programs.

Pacific Northwest History and Cultures: Why Do the Foods We Eat Matter?

Source: Native Knowledge 360. Smithsonian.  National Museum of the American Indian

Focus: Grades 9-12

Summary: This online lesson provides perspectives from Native American community members, images, objects, and other sources to help students and teachers understand the important connections between foods and cultures for Native People of the Pacific Northwest. Discover how Native Nations of the Pacific Northwest take action to protect and sustain salmon, water, and homelands.

Navigating Structural Violence with Indigenous Families: The Contested Terrain of Early Childhood Intervention and the Child Welfare System in Canada

Source: International Indigenous Policy Journal. ISSN 1916-5781

Summary:  Internationally, the welfare of Indigenous children continues to be severely compromised by their involvement with child welfare authorities. In this context, there are calls for greater investment in early childhood programs to support family preservation and children’s well-being. This article reports on the findings from a critical qualitative inquiry undertaken with Aboriginal Infant Development Programs (AIDPs) in Canada. The findings highlight how AIDP workers’ relational approaches countered Indigenous mothers’ experiences of feeling “like a bad parent” as a result of their involvement with the child welfare system and how workers navigated an increasingly close relationship with this system. We draw on the concept of structural violence to discuss the impact of the child welfare system on Indigenous families and AIDPs.

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