A Treaty 6-based Indigenous university has received a $2-million grant from the Rideau Hall Foundation as part of an effort to train 10,000 new First Nations, Métis and Inuit teachers across Canada.

University nuxełhot’įne thaaɁehots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills will use its funding to facilitate a five-year project to establish three distinct teacher education streams — immersion, elementary and secondary programming — while offering teacher training to Indigenous candidates who don’t have a bachelor’s in education. 

“Rooted in Land, language, Ceremony, and relationship, the project is guided by the laws of love, honesty, sharing and strength,” a news release from the Rideau Hall Foundation states.

Located near St. Paul, about 200 km northeast of Edmonton, Blue Quills University was established in 1970 on the site of the former Blue Quills Indian Residential School as Canada’s first Indigenous-run education facility.

The school has partnerships with Maskwachees Cultural College, Athabasca University, Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan Community College, Lakeland College, Keyano College, Nechi Institute, University of Calgary, and San Diego State University.

In 1998, the university’s Leadership and Management program became the first degree offered by an independent Indigenous post-secondary institution in Alberta. 

The funds for Blue Quills were part of a $13.2-million investment the Rideau Hall Foundation made in grants for seven Indigenous-led teacher education programs. 

“We know Canada is facing national teacher shortages and Indigenous

communities are struggling enormously to recruit and retain teachers,” explained Rachel

Mishenene, an Indigenous educator who serves as the foundation’s director of the Indigenous Teacher Education Initiative, in a news release.

“The grants support community-driven, committed education teams across

Canada building robust, culturally responsive Indigenous teacher education programs,

including language, land-based and remote-learning models. All of Canada will benefit from having significantly greater numbers of Indigenous teachers in classrooms.”

The foundation’s funding was offered based on four streams — language, land, leadership and love. 

Language refers to the promotion, revitalization and preservation of Indigenous languages, including initiatives such as language teacher accreditation and integrating Indigenous languages into teacher training. 

Land means a focus on learning from the land by understanding Indigenous ecological knowledge and how Indigenous cultures connect with nature, with programming like outdoor education and using the land as a classroom to explain these concepts. 

Leadership is about developing leadership skills and capacities among Indigenous educators, with instruction that offers community support, elevates Indigenous perspectives and advocates for positive change in educational policy. 

Love refers to fostering an inclusive environment for Indigenous teacher training, with an emphasis on caring relationships between teachers and students by offering wrap-around support for students while integrating traditional Indigenous practices. 

The six programs that received the remaining $11.2 million in funding are:

  • Yukon University, Yukon First Nation Education Directorate, First Nation School Board ($2 million)
  • Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatchewan ($1.28 million)
  • Seven Generations Education Institute in Ontario ($2 million)
  • Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick ($2 million)
  • University College of the North in Manitoba ($2 million)
  • Office of First Nations and Inuit Education at McGill University ($1.98 million)

The Rideau Hall Foundation received funding for the grants from the Mastercard Foundation. Applicants were selected for funding by an independent board of Indigenous educators and academics from across Canada.

By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 03, 2024 at 08:40

This item reprinted with permission from   Alberta Native News   Edmonton, Alberta

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