First Nations education centre in Thunder Bay to get major overhaul

Matawa Education and Centre has received an investment of over $16M from Indigenous Services Canada for renovations, including new classrooms, a gymnasium, and a student residence. An investigation into the deaths of seven First Nations students who were attending school in Thunder Bay recommended that the students needed a residence or living facility when moving to the city. The City of Thunder Bay gifted the building of a former retirement lodge to the Matawa First Nations in 2017, and it has since been developed into an education and care centre for up to 200 students. "This will go a long way in bridging those cultural divides in the city of Thunder Bay," said Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River Don Rusnak. "It's completely different, you get to socialize more with students and teachers and they have cultural activities here as well as after-school programs," said Grade 12 student Andy Beaver. "It's a really good experience." The centre is expected to be completedin Fall 2020.

SK announces new language courses for high school students

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced new language courses in Dene, Nakawe and Michif at the 10, 20 and 30 levels. A provincial release notes that the initiative aligns with the TRC calls to action and the Joint Task Force recommendations, which are focused on the importance of Indigenous languages and their role in preserving cultural traditions. "It is encouraging to see a Metis language included in these efforts being made within our provincial education system," Metis Nation Saskatchewan Education Minister Earl Cook said. "This will assist in the retention of Michif, our official language. Providing Indigenous students with meaningful opportunities to learn about and connect with their cultural heritage is key to their success." School divisions across Saskatchewan will be able to offer these provincial language courses beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

Funding shortfall places Indigenous education program in jeopardy

The Indigenous Education Program, which was started by the Ottawa Community Foundation two years ago, is in danger of being discontinued due to a lack of funds. The program was funded by an anonymous donation and a community grant, which are projected to run out during the 2019/2020 school year. "This is reconciliation in action," said teacher Valerie Van Sickle of the IEP's Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. "This is reconciliation where the kids are learning culture. They're deepening their understanding, and that is an important part of the calls to action." Since the program began, over 800 Ottawa high school and elementary students have visited the Wabano Centre and partipated in tours, workshops, and information sessions about Indigenous culture and residential schools. CBC reports that most of the funding goes to transportation for students traveling to the Centre. Staff at the Wabano Centre and the Ottawa Community Foundation hope that the program becomes a mandated part of the curriculum by school boards, an action that would require funding for the programs.