McGill to change Redmen team name

McGill University has announced it will change the name of its men's varsity sports teams, the Redmen, due to widespread acknowledgement of the term's offensiveness toward Indigenous peoples. McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier announced the decision by email to students last Friday morning, saying it was based on new principles of commemoration and renaming that the university established in December 2018. In the email, Fortier also cited major English dictionaries as sources confirming the term's offensive connotations. "We cannot ignore this contemporary understanding. Intention, however benign, does not negate prejudicial effect," said Fortier. "Inclusion and respect are at the core of our university's principles and values; pejoratives run contrary to who we are as a community."

New Richmond principal, teachers bring Indigenous knowledge and history to classroom

At the New Richmond High School in Quebec, Principal Michael Isaac has brought Indigenous history and culture into the classroom after finding that "Quebec's Education Ministry's high school curriculum simply wasn't up to the task." CBC reports that approximately 60% of the school's population is of Mi'kmaw heritage, as is Isaac himself, who argued that ignoring an entire segment of the population is both damaging for those of Indigenous heritage and a disservice to Quebec. "Physics, chemistry, biology - you name a subject being taught in school, we have evidence that shows that our ancestors were well-versed in those subject areas," said Isaac. The school has held a ceremony to mark the arrival of spring, participated in Turtle Island Reads, held a Sisters in Spirit vigil to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and several other initiatives. Student Jacob Lagouffe explained that the school's approach to Indigenous knowledge has allowed him to learn new things about his heritage, and that he hopes there will be more opportunities in school to discuss important issues. "It's really good to bring it up because we need to spread awareness about this subject," said Lagouffe, "and have  more people know about it, to (bring) change in our society."

For-credit InSTEM program that blends land-based learning, traditional knowledge expands north

Actua's InSTEM program will be expanded to include communities in the Yukon Northwest Territories, and northern Alberta. The InSTEM program is a high school for-credit program that blends land-based learning, traditional knowledge, science and technology. Doug Dokis, director of Actua's InSTEM program and Anishinaabe from Dokis First Nation near North Bay, explained that the program has a greater impact on the student's educational outcomes because of its for-credit nature. "It's letting these youth in these regions know the local knowledge they inherently have is equally as valuable as a STEM knowledge that they're receiving within the school systems," said Dokis. The program was piloted in 2017 in Ottawa, and expanded to Six Nations, Dokis First Nation, and Akwesasne last summer. The program includes an Indigenous science course that students take part in during the academic year and a land-based program in the summer that takes place in students' communities. The program received $2.3M from the Government of Canada to support the expansion.