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Issue #122
January, 2020

Indigenous Self Determination in Northern Canada and Norway

Source: Wilson, Gary N., and Per Selle. 2019. Indigenous Self-Determination in Northern Canada and Norway. IRPP Study 69. Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Summary: Over the last several decades, two circumpolar Indigenous peoples – the Canadian Inuit and the Norwegian Sámi – have made great strides in developing innovative governance regimes to foster greater Indigenous self-determination within their respective states. Their experience, say authors Gary N. Wilson and Per Selle, highlights two different yet complementary dimensions of Indigenous self-determination: self-rule and shared rule. Self-rule is the notion that Indigenous communities should exercise some degree of autonomy over policy decisions at the regional and local levels. Shared rule is the idea that communities should be connected with other, non-Indigenous governments so they can influence decisions that affect them.

The Canadian part of this study reviews developments in four Inuit regions: the territory of Nunavut, the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories, Nunavik in northern Quebec and Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador. Since the 1970s the Inuit in these regions have focused on building institutions of self-rule within the context of a federal system of government, by negotiating land claims agreements and by creating regional governance institutions with varying degrees of jurisdictional authority.

In contrast, the Norwegian Sámi have made considerable progress in developing non-territory-based, shared-rule institutions at the national level, within a unitary system of government. In particular, they established a national Indigenous parliament, the Sámediggi, which represents the Sámi from all parts of the country, provides limited jurisdictional authority in areas such as language, culture and education, and has close links with departments of the Norwegian government.

In recent years, both Indigenous groups have made progress toward creating a better balance between self-rule and shared rule. In Canada, an example is the creation of the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, which brings together Inuit leaders and senior Canadian government representatives. A Norwegian example is the establishment of the Finnmark Estate, a land management body whose board is composed of three representatives from the Sámediggi and three from the Finnmark County Council in northern Norway.

Nunavut Linguicide Report

Source: Nunavut Tunngavik Inc, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson and Robert Dunbar

Summary: In the 2016 census, 1.6 million Canadians reported having an Indigenous identity, with only 260,000 reporting the ability to conduct a conversation in an Indigenous language. There are currently 58 distinct Indigenous languages in Canada, comprising more than 90 distinct dialects. Six of the languages had more than 10,000 people who reported that it was a mother tongue: the Cree languages, Dene, Innu, Inuktitut, Ojibway and Oji-Cree. Since at least the 1940s, serious concerns have been expressed by Indigenous organizations in Canada about the decline in the use of their languages. Many Indigenous individuals did so as early as in the 18th century. A large number of general old and new studies from several disciplines have described the linguistic and cultural decline (e.g. Clark 1996; Chuffart 2017). This decline is continuing to this day (2019), despite many attempts to counter it.

Teaching and learning

Source: Rupertsland Institute Métis Centre of Excellence

Summary: The RCTL is developing strong Foundational Knowledge Resources, engaging Lesson Plans, meaningful Professional Development opportunities and authentic Classroom Learning Tools that speak accurately and meaningfully to topics in Métis education.

… six themes were developed with the intent to support and build Alberta educators’ competency to meet the new Alberta Teacher Quality Standard. It is our vision that enhanced education will lead to a pedagogical shift that includes an understanding of Métis foundational knowledge, Métis content and Métis resources for ALL students in an authentic, purposeful way.

Shift – Break your own trail

Source: Shot in the Dark Productions

Focus: Secondary Students

Summary: SHIFT is a half-hour documentary about the Indigenous youth from Carcross, Yukon who have spent the past 10 years converting traditional trails around their town in to a world-class mountain biking destination – and transforming their community and themselves along the way.

Métis Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Source: Canadian Geographic: Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Focus: Secondary students

Summary: The Royal Canadian Geographical Society has boldly taken a step to address the truth with the creation of this atlas, which will help balance the historical record with other perspectives and missing pieces of history. The atlas will be a powerful educational tool for all Canadians, affirming the Métis Nation, the Inuit and the First Nations, while helping Canadians and the world learn more about the true history of Canada.

Land and Resource Connection Lesson Plans

Source: Indigenous Education BC

Focus: Grades 3-6

Summary: Learning Intentions for the students:

  • I can understand that there is diversity in Aboriginal culture.     
  • I can understand how Aboriginal culture and diversity is connected to the land.             
  • I can explain how the resources were used.

Back – and – forth exchange boosts children’s brain response

Source: MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary: A landmark 1995 study found that children from higher-income families hear about 30 million more words during their first three years of life than children from lower-income families. This “30-million-word gap” correlates with significant differences in tests of vocabulary, language development, and reading comprehension.

MIT cognitive scientists have now found that conversation between an adult and a child appears to change the child’s brain, and that this back-and-forth conversation is actually more critical to language development than the word gap. In a study of children between the ages of 4 and 6, they found that differences in the number of “conversational turns” accounted for a large portion of the differences in brain physiology and language skills that they found among the children. This finding applied to children regardless of parental income or education.

The findings suggest that parents can have considerable influence over their children’s language and brain development by simply engaging them in conversation.

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