Indigenous Success Stories: First Nations

May 11, 2022


Maurice Switzer, the 2022 Debwewin Citation for excellence in journalism and storytelling

NationTalk: Anishinabek Nation Head Office – Maurice Switzer Bnesi, a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, is to be honoured with the 2022 Debwewin Citation for excellence in journalism and storytelling in August.

“Chi-miigwech Maurice for continuing to share our Debwewin with students all over Ontario. He enriches thousands through teaching Canada’s true history, racist and oppressive policies and their intergenerational effects, including the Indian Act, and the significance and importance of treaty relationships,” says Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe. “He ensures that students know about the many successes and contributions of Indigenous people across Turtle Island. Congratulations on career excellence in both journalism and storytelling!”

Switzer currently serves on the Indigenous Reconciliation Advisory Group of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He resides in North Bay, where he operates Nimkii Communications, a public education practice with a focus on the treaty relationship that made possible the peaceful settlement of Canada.

He is the former Communications Director of the Anishinabek Nation, editor of the Anishinabek News, Assembly of First Nations Communications Director, former publisher of the Timmins Daily Press and the first Indigenous publisher of a daily newspaper in Canada, the Winnipeg Free Press. Maurice still writes columns for the North Bay Nugget and Anishinabek News. He also created a partnership with the North Bay Nugget to have a full page in every Saturday edition of the paper called the Niijii Circle Page.

“This page allows us to share stories that normally wouldn’t be covered by a mainstream newspaper,” says Communications Director Marci Becking. “The public education initiative won the 2003 Canadian Race Relations Foundation Award of Honour.

He also created this very award – the Debwewin Citations


March 15, 2022


The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians sign a Tripartite MOU on Education with the Govts. of Ontario and Canada

The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians signed a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Education with the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada. We are pleased to announce that the current MOU has been extended for another five years. The extension of the MOU comes in part due to the resounding success of language and traditional teaching-based events, such as the Language Gathering Program and the Youth Development Camp both of which have had immense positive results and feedback in the form of increased beneficial knowledge of language and traditional teachings. What may be most pleasing is the continued use of the benefits gained through the Language Champion programs that have seen students continue to engage through the language with other community members to the enjoyment of many.

Grand Chief Joel Abram, who signed the memorandum as a representative of AIAI, says “This memorandum asserts the right of Indigenous Peoples to educate our people and work together to ensure culturally appropriate standards for our communities. The extension of this memorandum will help to establish an important connection between Nations but also an important step forward to preserve, recognize and revitalize the cultural teachings within our communities.”

Deputy Grand Chief Stacia Loft says “The fact this memorandum was formed is a historic moment in itself but more-so it’s extension demonstrates that meaningful partnerships can be formed for the rights and future of our K-12 First Nation students. Languages require preservation, cultural practices need to be recognized, and this MOU will ensure that we will have the resources to move ahead.”

The Honorable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services says “First Nations students deserve high-quality and culturally appropriate education to help them succeed. This five-year extension of the Memorandum of Understanding will give the partners valuable time to continue developing supports for students transitioning from First Nation schools to provincial schools, strengthening connections between First Nations and provincial educators, and developing community-based language strategies.


January 28, 2022


Plato Testing

BMO Financial Group – BMO Financial Group has teamed up with PLATO, Canada’s only Indigenous-led and Indigenous-staffed IT services and training firm, to offer the Amazon Web Services (AWS) re/Start program virtually to Indigenous students across Canada. Twenty-two students, some from remote communities, have started a 12-week Cloud computing boot camp, followed by a six-month BMO internship to learn and apply those skills on the job, and opportunities for full-time employment.
AWS re/Start is a skills development program that prepares individuals for a career in technology with the mission of building a pipeline of talent with core Cloud and Cloud-adjacent skills that are transferable to multiple technology roles. The people participating in this program with PLATO and BMO have been selected from a pool of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit applicants from across Canada who have demonstrated a strong interest in technology.
PLATO Testing was founded in 2015 by Keith McIntosh, CEO of testing firm Professional Quality Assurance Ltd. PLATO is striving to build a network of 1000 Indigenous software testers across Canada.


January 5, 2022


National Indigenous University Senior Leaders’ Association

Indigenous Senior Administrative leaders from post-secondary institutions across Canada have formed the National Indigenous University Senior Leaders’ Association (NIUSLA). First Nations University of Canada President Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann co-chairs the association alongside Dr. Michael Hart, vice-provost of the Office of Indigenous Engagement at the University of Calgary.
NIUSLA aims to network and engage in constructive dialogue and actions on the roles and responsibilities of leadership within the academic university context. NIUSLA members will have the opportunity to share experiences and information, provide recommendations, and identify areas of success and need within post-secondary institutions. NIULSA strives to:
• Develop a vibrant and recognized leadership association of university Indigenous senior leaders;
• Address challenges and issues relevant to Indigenous senior leaders;
• Increase the communication and resource capacity of NIUSLA; and
• Strengthen and build capacities of Indigenous senior leaders.
Given the rise of high-profile Indigenous identity fraud, and the increasing designation benefits (dedicated positions, research funding and scholarships) for Indigenous peoples at academic institutions in the era of truth and reconciliation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the timing was advantageous for Indigenous senior academic administrators to take the lead and begin working collaboratively by encouraging and promoting expressions of self-determination and leaning into the strengths of its members within non-Indigenous university contexts.
Indigenous senior leaders with a university, college or faculty-wide mandate are invited to join NIUSLA.
“It’s a step towards further strengthening and building capacities of Indigenous senior leadership while being the national network for the administration, advancing issues and concerns of Indigenous peoples (faculty, staff, students, community members and leaders) and connecting with other Indigenous organizations with common goals. The framework includes leadership, mentorship and succession planning for career-retention.”


October 12, 2021


Unama’ki P-TECH School Model

NationTalk – Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and Nova Scotia Community College, along with IBM today announced they are partnering to deliver the Unama’ki P-TECH School Model (Pathways in Technology, Early College High School) to the Indigenous youth in Nova Scotia. The school program will be based in Eskasoni with the first cohort of students being from three Unama’ki communities.
The Unama’ki P-TECH model offers integrated high school and college curriculum focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). It will enable the Unama’ki students to graduate with a high school diploma, and a tuition-free, industry aligned, two-year college diploma, with workplace experiences within six years or less. Hallmarks of the program include industry one-on-one mentoring, workplace visits, paid summer internships, and be considered as first-in-line for interviews regarding IBM open positions
The Unama’ki P-TECH program will incorporate technical proficiency such as programming, while fostering professional skills, including critical thinking, problem solving, communication and adaptability for new-collar jobs. In addition, aspects of Mi’kmaq culture, language and other Indigenous teaching such as their guiding principles of “two-eyed seeing” will be part of this school’s P-TECH model.
The P-TECH model provides participants with work experience with employers in the ICT sector that addresses industry’s need to have new grads with experience along with well-developed professional workplace habits. For the Indigenous participants having mentors, and connections to employment built into this program addresses the need for real opportunities. This program allows participants not just to dream about opportunity but more importantly they are able to realize those dreams.


October 4, 2021


Connected North

Connected North, operated by the charity TakingITGlobal, connects students from Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 to a wide variety of virtual, live, and interactive learning experiences like virtual museum tours, cool science experiments, author talks, language revitalization programming, dance classes and so much more. Many sessions focus on connecting students with Indigenous role models to share, engage and inspire through First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture, teachings and traditions.
“Connected North is a program that makes use of technology to bring Indigenous perspectives and knowledge directly to students, enriching the curriculum with cultural content that is reflective of local communities” says Andre Morriseau, TakingITGlobal Board Member.
Scotiabank announced a commitment of $750,000 to Connected North. Scotiabank’s gift supports the development of Connected North’s digital platform to enable program growth and sustainability, helping community partners and educators easily access customized learning opportunities aligned to curriculum needs and student interests. The donation will also fund digital inclusion grants for Connected North students who are graduating high school and require a personal device such as a laptop to continue their education or training.
“Scotiabank’s support is helping to shape the growth of the Connected North program,” says Michael Furdyk, Co-Founder and Director of Technology, TakingITGlobal. “The digital platform provides ease of access to bring unique content providers, including over 90 Indigenous role models, into the classroom in an interactive and engaging way.”


September 27, 2021


National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation – Today marks the beginning of Truth and Reconciliation Week. This national educational program continues the conversation about the truths of First Nations Treaties, the Métis and Inuit Land Claims, and the legacy of the residential school system.
“This week, we will bring Indigenous voices and perspectives into the classroom. This is an opportunity to fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #62 on Education for Reconciliation, which calls for the development of an age-appropriate curriculum to involve students across the country in the Reconciliation process,” said Stephanie Scott, Executive Director of the NCTR.
This week, educators will engage their classrooms on Truth and Reconciliation as they learn first hand from Survivors, children of Survivors of residential schools, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, artists and leaders from a wide range of nations and cultures. Through age-appropriate educational resources and activities and live events, Truth and Reconciliation Week virtually brings Survivors into the classroom to continue truth-telling and to spark a national conversation about the future of Reconciliation.
Truth and Reconciliation Week dedicates a day each to:
• Land and Treaties
• Languages and Culture
• Truth and Reconciliation
• Orange Shirt Day and
• Elder-Youth Knowledge Transfer.
Truth and Reconciliation Week is hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), with sponsorship by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and funding and support from the Government of Canada and
• NIB Trust
• The Winnipeg Foundation
• Governments of Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Yukon, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories
• Canada’s History
• Historica Canada
• The Canadian Commission for UNESCO
• The McConnell Foundation
• APTN
• CBC
• Wapikoni & Télé-Québec,
• Facebook,
• The National Film Board of Canada
• Know History
This year’s French programming is developed in partnership with Télé-Québec and Wapikoni.


August 27, 2021


Eeyou Cree School Board

CBC – A new history curriculum making its way into some Cree high school classrooms in northern Quebec this fall is about so much more than teaching the past. Sara Pash is the Chairperson of the Cree School Board, and the new curriculum, developed by the board, teaches history from a Cree perspective. This fall, it is being introduced in secondary 3 (grade 9) classrooms. Last year, it was taught for the first time in secondary 4 (grade 10).
“We’re looking at history from an Eeyou perspective and as a way to support identity construction of our students,” Pash said.
“We know that our students have very different needs from students in the south.”
The Cree School Board has been adapting the standard Quebec history curriculum, since the early 2000s according to Pash. That was when the board received what’s known as a derogation from the Quebec Ministry of Education. Pash said the work of this new curriculum has been several years in the making.
“It’s really time now that our children hear our own stories from our own mouths, from our own perspectives,” Pash said, adding the new curriculum is based on an Eeyou worldview or Miiyubiimaatisiiwin, which literally translated means, “the good life” and one’s ability to find their own place in creation.
The curriculum starts with pre-contact and takes a comprehensive look at the impacts of colonization and confederation on Indigenous people, according to Pash.
It also takes a trauma-informed approach to teaching students about the history of residential schools, the sixties scoop, as well as treaties signed between the Crown and Indigenous people, including the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, signed by Quebec Cree in 1975.
“It really tries to ensure that any traumatic events in our history are understood [and] where we are working towards our own future as a nation from a place of healing and empowerment,” Pash said.
The history curriculum also includes present-day efforts in self-determination and self-governance for the Cree.


August 17, 2021


USask. Indigenous Strategy

University of Saskatchewan – The Indigenous Strategy, ohpahotân | oohpaahotaan (“Let’s Fly Up Together”) will be gifted in a ceremony on Aug. 20 to the University of Saskatchewan (USask) on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples who informed and validated the process as a companion to the University Plan 2025. The ceremony marks a historic event for USask as it celebrates the first Indigenous Strategy that has been solely created by Indigenous people at a Canadian U15 research institution.
This historic new Indigenous Strategy calls for meaningful and respectful action to advance Indigenization and support transformative decolonization, leading to reconciliation. The Office of the Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement has been collaborating with USask’s Indigenous community of students, staff, faculty, and leaders, Elders, Traditional Knowledge Keepers and Language Teachers since 2018.
By embedding the principles of this strategy in all aspects of our University Plan 2025, USask is committed to being a national leader in Indigenous engagement and reconciliation as we strive to be the university the world needs.
Our strategy is grounded in seven fundamental commitments—interdependent, mutually reinforcing, interconnected in time and space. These commitments reflect important concepts to Indigenous peoples, our ways of knowing and being.
These commitments are central to the wholeness of Indigenous self-determination:
• Safety. Creating and realizing inviting, welcoming and safe spaces for Indigenous peoples, free from racism and oppression.
• Wellness. Integrating wholistic healing supports for the University’s Indigenous com- munity, including students, staff, faculty and leaders.
• Stewardship. Preserving and amplifying Indigenous cultures, languages and protocol learnings.
• Representation. Uplifting Indigenous peoples in University spaces and places. Right Relations. Supporting active and respectful partnerships and engagement with
• Indigenous peoples—ethical and relational spaces.
• Creation. Acknowledging, resourcing and investing in wise practices and activities— conjuring the creative spirit that inspires innovation.
• Renewal. Strengthening and sustaining pathways of access and success—connecting with Indigenous youth.
We describe the Guiding Principles that reflect the beliefs, values and philosophies that underpin each of our commitments. Importantly, we empower the University to deliver on its commitment to Indigenization, decolonization and reconciliation through concrete Calls to Action that reflect the voices and aspirations of Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and members of broader Indigenous communities. Finally, we have identified a series of Markers that can serve as guideposts for the University to better understand the impact of implementing these actions, help monitor and evaluate progress, and ensure accountability.
On Oct. 18, 2020 the University of Saskatchewan Senate passed a motion to accept the gift.
https://indigenous.usask.ca/documents/lets-fly-up-together.pdf


July 30, 2021


SCcyber E-Learning Institute

Red Deer Advocate – SCcyber E-Learning Institute will open this September at the local Native Friendship Centre in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. The school will provide online high school courses for the growing population of Indigenous youth from Sunchild and O’Chiese First Nations, about 50 kilometres away, when it opens in September.
The school is an urban-based sister organization to SCcyber E-learning Community, provider of online education courses to Indigenous students from more than 25 First Nations.
“It is well known that Indigenous students often struggle in traditional school settings,” says Kamieniecki, “yet there were very limited options specifically designed to meet the needs of these marginalized urban students until this model arrived.”
SCcbyer E-learning Community was Canada’s first online school for Indigenous learners, founded in 2000.


June 28, 2021


Kâpapâmahchakwéw “Wandering Spirit School”

Toronto Star – Kâpapâmahchakwéw “Wandering Spirit School” celebrates its first graduates. Part of the Toronto District School Board, “Wandering Spirit “welcomed its first cohort of Grade 9 students in the fall of 2107, added Grade 10 in 2018, Grade 11 in 2019 and Grade 12 in 2020. The school integrates values, language and culture into the curriculum. “About 50 people are enrolled in the high school program, and 180 in total.
The curriculum offers students classes such as NAC10 (Expressions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Cultures, NAC20 (First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada) and NBE3 (English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit Voices). Indigenous perspectives are also centered in science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, medicine and design classes.


June 3, 2021


Yukon First Nation School Board Framework

The Government of Yukon and the Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) – are pleased to announce the finalization of the Yukon First Nation School Board Framework Agreement.
The agreement sets out the process for the creation of a First Nation School Board under the Education Act. This is a critical first step for Yukon First Nations and their Citizens to assume greater authority and control of the administration and management of education programs for students in their communities and the eventual operation of local schools.
Signatories to the agreement, representing 10 Yukon First Nations and the Government of Yukon, seek to address long-standing concerns about unacceptable education outcomes for First Nations students. They also commit to provide high-quality and culturally-appropriate education systems for these students based on an Indigenous world view.
https://nationtalk.ca/story/next-steps-for-yukon-first-nation-school-board-outlined-in-newly-signed-agreement


May 14, 2021


Tripartite Education MOU with Grand Council Treaty # 3

Indigenous Services Canada – Grand Council Treaty #3, Canada and Ontario successfully concluded the negotiation of a tripartite education Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU will foster mutual understanding and respect, and will help preserve, support and revitalize the language, culture and identity of Treaty #3 First Nations by supporting First Nations control of education to improve student success for First Nations youth in Northwestern Ontario.
The federal and provincial governments have invested $1.16 million and $300,000, respectively, to support Grand Council Treaty #3 with the implementation of the MOU and will continue to assist the process as the parties establish a joint action plan that will guide the work and progress of the MOU.
Today’s ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the important trilateral partnership that will pave the way for a better educational system for over 1,300 First Nations students who live in Treaty #3 territory. Currently, 17 First Nations in Ontario have signed the agreement. The MOU is flexible and allows other First Nations in Treaty #3 to join in the future should they choose to do so.
Through this agreement, the parties have committed to address efforts to improve education outcomes by focusing on early learning, culturally appropriate education resources, professional development, relationship building and transitioning between First Nations and provincially operated schools.


January 4, 2019


OISE’s Aboriginal Peoples Curricula Database

The Deepening Knowledge Project seeks to infuse Aboriginal peoples’ histories, knowledges and pedagogies into all levels of education in Canada. The project is a part of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, which is located on the territories of Anishinaabe and Onkwehonwe peoples.
On this site you’ll find information about the history and traditions of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Native American cultures, information about the challenges facing Aboriginal communities today, and curricula for incorporating this information into your teaching practice organized by grade, subject, and theme. Find lessons and links to help support your classroom learning through ideas, lesson templates, and links to books, films, and music to bring Indigenous perspectives, knowledges, and stories into your classroom
http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/deepeningknowledge/


June 20, 2018


Maskwacîs Cree Nations

Alberta Native News – On June 20, 2018, Maskwacîs Cree Chiefs hosted a ceremony to mark the signing of a provincial education framework agreement between the four Maskwacîs Cree Nations and the Government of Alberta, ensuring new enhanced education funding from the province. Effective immediately, the Agreement outlines how the Provincial Government will support the Maskwacîs Education Schools Commission (MESC) as they develop a robust Cree-based curriculum that integrates language, culture and land-based learning while improving student outcomes such as literacy and numeracy at all levels.
It also identifies how the province can supplement any funding, expertise, training and other supports to strengthen the new Maskwacîs Cree school system—and how, in turn, MESC will share their curriculum learnings—including First Nations history, residential school history, Treaty rights and land-based programs—with Alberta Education.
Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, MESC will oversee all 11 schools in Maskwacîs across the four Nations, serving more than 2,300 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.


May 15, 2018


Maskwacîs Cree Nations

Maskwacîs Education Schools Commission Resource and Development Agreement—which includes signatories from the Chiefs of each of the four Maskwacîs Cree Nations and Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services – marks the official transition of true local control of education to the Maskwacis Cree.
Maskwacîs Education Schools Commission (MESC) is the new education authority for all 11 schools and two Head Start programs in Maskwacîs. The primary goal of MESC is improving educational opportunities, services and student success for all students who attend our schools in Maskwacis


September 17, 2014


Whitcap Daakota First Nation

Sept. 2014 – The elementary school is part of a unique partnership between Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Saskatoon Public Schools and the federal and provincial governments that includes students in Grades 5-8 from Whitecap and K-8 students from Stonebridge. The first on–reserve school (for about 850 students at full capacity) to be integrated into a Saskatchewan School Division. Federal Government committed $2.7M as part of the construction.


August 8, 2012


Waywayseecappo FN

Provincial and federal governments allowed First Nations to join the local school board, transforming indigenous students into provincial students. Under the agreement, the feds matched the provincial standard dollar for dollar. Until about 18 months ago, a student in Waywayseecappo received about $7,300 in annual funding from the federal government, while a student at Rossburn Collegiate received about $10,500 from the provincial government. Then one day the disparity disappeared, poof, overnight.The extra $1.2M in annual funding allowed the school to hire 6 more teachers, reduce class size by 50% and raised teacher salaries between 13K – $18K to be in line with provincial peers (McLeans, Aug. 8, 2012)


January 1, 1970


Anishinabek Nation

The federal government has signed a self-governance agreement “Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement” with 23 Ontario First Nations, the largest such deal of its kind in Canada.
Oct. 2, 2018 – The Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB) opens the doors of its new head office location (Nipissing First Nation) to the public today, at the official launch of the Anishinabek Education System (AES).
https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/A-11.3.pdf