Canada shifts policy in effort to narrow Indigenous education fnding gap

The Canadian government is changing how it allocates nearly $2B in annual funding for First Nations education in an effort to close the gap between on-reserve students and those enrolled in provincial school systems, reports CBC. While provincial governments manage education off-reserve, the federal government funds on-reserve education. Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan said this week that the new model was developed after an extensive engagement process involving several organizations, including the Assembly of First Natoins, and that one of its core goals is to provide predictable year-over-year funding in line with provincial per-student amounts. Under the new approach, First Nations schools will also receive $1.5K per student every year towards language and cultural programs, while schools will offer full kindergarten for on-reserve kids aged four and five. The funding will be within the jurisdiction and control of chiefs and band councils.

All AB schools to receive new Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Every secondary school in Alberta will receive a copy of a new Canadian Georgraphic Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. CBC reports that the resource is being touted as a comprehensive education tool written from the perspective of Indigenous Canadians. Published last year, the atlas is separated into four books, each covering a single broad topic: Truth and Reconciliation, First Nations, Inuit and Metis. "I grew up in Fort Chipewyan...and I didn't learn much about (my history)," said Marlene Poitras. Alberta regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations. ".It was only when I went to post-secondary and into nursing that I started learning (more). That was very important for me to understand. In school, I didn't get that information." The province is distributing 1,600 of the atlas sets, with a free online version available for home-school students and the general public. Charlene Bearhead, who served as the education adviser on the project, says the Royal Canadian Geographical Society heard from more than 200 Indigenous sources to create the books.

 Humber supports reconciliation with cultural land markers

Indigenous gathering places and cultural markers are part of a new genre of architecture in Canada, writes Alex Bozikovic, highlighting a trio of projects at Humber College. "We are in a state of cultural reclamation, rediscovering culture, rediscovering language and art," said Winnipeg-based Anishinaabe architecht Ryan Gorrie, who has worked on the Humber project. Bozikovic notes that the Humber projects reflect an effort by the institution to pursue recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which include sustained awareness of Indigenous land claims. "As Indigenous peoples, we've been taught that our language is written on the land," said Shelley Charles, Humber's dean of Indigenous Education and Engagement, adding that the college's set of Indigenous Cultural Markers "is a contemporary response to that, really creating a land acknowledgement in physical form."

McMaster researchers collaborate with Six Nations knowledge holders

Global Water Futures, a seven-year research program out of the University of Sask, is funding a collaboration between McMaster University researchers and traditional knowledge holders on Six Nations of the Grand River. A release states that the collaboration will focus on water-related issues of training, wellness and resilience, and governance. "We want to develop an enduring legacy of Indigenous knowledge harmonization with western science through the co-creation of sustainable water management pathways for the community," said Dawn Martin-Hill, the Project Lead and Paul R MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies at McMaster.

Level launches education, mentorship program in Thunder Bay to change lives through law

A new education and mentorship program launched by Canadian charity Level in Thunder Bay will enable elementary school students between the ages of 11 and 14 to learn more about law and the justice system. The program will see grade six and seven students from Kingsway Park Public School take part in the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program. A volunteer - a student from Lakehead University Faculty of Law - will run a variety of workshops on the Canadian criminal justice system. Since the Canadian criminal justice system is a colonial system, explained Level's Director of Programs Lisa Del Col, the students will also take part in Indigenous legal traditions and teachings. "We do a mock sentencing circle, we do smudging and we incorporate the eagle feather into the curriculum as well," said Del Col. Volunteers will need to approach the program with the mindset of being an ally, she explained, "because they're going to learn just as much from the youth, as the youth are going to learn from them."