Georgian College: Students learn Indigenous language using virtual reality

June 18, 2021

Georgian College is among a few schools in the world to offer Indigenous language education in an immersive virtual reality (VR) environment. This new technology is changing and enhancing the learning landscape for students and is part of the college’s bold new digital innovation strategy.

Rob Theriault, Georgian’s Immersive Technology Lead, worked with staff and faculty from Indigenous Studies to create an immersive Indigenous Language House that’s providing students in the Anishnaabemowin and Program Development program a unique and fun way to learn and practise their speaking skills.

The first module of language lessons is based around the home. Using AltspaceVR, Theriault built and furnished a house and put information buttons on all the items in the house. Faculty member Angeline King and Elder Ernestine Baldwin translated a word list for everything so that when a student clicks on a button, the Anishnaabemowin word pops up. There is also a second house using Engage software which includes voiceover translations with either Angeline, Ernestine or another faculty member Mitchell Ackerman giving the pronunciation.

Angeline says it was a big process to create the list as some words don’t exist in the language so they had to create words.

“We also wanted to stick with our own regional dialect,” says Angeline. “Ernestine and I went back and forth on them – we have a great sense of humour with our language.”

There is also a firepit and a basketball court outside the house where students can socialize virtually. This semester Angeline was able to teach students extra words around the sport of basketball – a whole lesson in itself – and it was one way to teach them language in an immersive and fun method.

A medicine wheel has also been incorporated as part of the house.

“We can teach students all about the wheel – what the colours mean, and all the teachings,” says Angeline. “They think they’re here just to learn the language but we also teach them about the culture.”

Maryam Ismail just completed her first year in the program and said the best thing about using the Indigenous Language House technology is that it brought all the students together.

“We feel closer to each other,” explains Maryam Ismail. “It’ll be weird to finally meet in real life and realize that we all don’t look like our avatars,” she laughs.

While she said there were a few challenges around internet connections, Maryam has enjoyed using the technology for her course and noted they’ve been learning while playing and exploring with their headsets and laptops. They’ve had fireside circle conversations where they can acquire many effective skills for learning the language.

“I definitely think the format has enhanced my learning,” says Maryam. “After COVID-19 I can’t wait to get back to the classroom but keeping VR would add so much to the program. I believe it should be part of the curriculum.”

Michele O’Brien, program co-ordinator for all Indigenous programming, was quick to see the potential benefits of  VR technology.

“It’s allowed us to prepare for the next generation of learners – and this doesn’t necessarily mean direct from high school – it could mean students from a variety of ages,” says Michele. “The technology allows learners to see, feel and hear the meanings and translations of words.”

Michele adds that the best way to learn a new language is through socialization and when students are back to face-to-face learning it will be a good way for them to take what they learn in the classroom and practise skills on their own time.

Greg McGregor, Manager of Indigenous Services and Access Programs at Georgian, says the college recognized years ago that the Indigenous language – and those who are fluent in it – was slipping away.

“It was critical to create the Anishnaabemowin and Program Development program if we were going to save the language,” he says. “We’re the only college in Ontario currently offering a program in Anishnaabemowin and it’s important to remain a global leader in this area. We also know in order for the language to survive we need to engage the younger generation and this new technology is a perfect way to do this.”

Georgian is also sharing this new technology with other colleagues. All the virtual reality assets being built for language learning will be open source so they’re available to other Indigenous programs across Canada and around the world. In addition, Michele and Angeline were invited to participate on apanel during the iLRN World Conference on June 5. They presented on Revitalization and Preservation of Indigenous Languages and Culture using XR.

Interested in learning about other VR projects at Georgian? Read this story on other cool things we’re doing.


MMF: Canada one step closer to adoption of Bill C-15, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

June 18, 2021

Winnipeg, MB, in the Métis Nation Homeland – Bill C-15 has passed the third reading in the Senate, leaving Royal Assent as the final step in the bill becoming law.

Bill C-15 requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, to develop an action plan and align federal laws with The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

“With the passing of Bill C-15 through its third reading in Senate, we affirm our nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with Canada and our place in the constitution,” said David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF). “Bill C-15 ensures we have the standing to work in harmony with political leaders and industry, while protecting our environment and the land we were born to. Our work with Enbridge is a good example of the positive outcomes that can come from consultation, creating economic opportunities within our communities.”

UNDRIP affirms the human rights of Indigenous Peoples across the globe, and complements the work being done in Canada to advance truth and reconciliation. The Métis Nation has participated in ongoing consultation with the Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami in the development of this legislation. UNDRIP is an important instrument of international law, and it holds a great deal of promise for the Métis Nation. It presents a strong vision for the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, built on a foundation of meaningful self-determination.

“The pathway to reconciliation for Métis Nation means taking our rightful place in Canada’s Confederation, and UNDRIP supports that,” said President Chartrand. “It makes it very clear that the duty to consult will be respected and that collaboration with the MMF on matters that affect the Homeland and Citizens will remain a key part of the process. Dialogue and consultation are vital if we truly want to see healing between Canada and the Métis Nation. It’s only by working together that we can create a better Canada for all our children.”


Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.

The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is the democratic self-governing political representative for the Métis Nation’s Manitoba Métis Community. The Manitoba Métis Community is Canada’s Partner in Confederation and the Founder of the Province of Manitoba.

For more information, media may contact:
Kat Patenaude
Media Relations Advisor

Manitoba Metis Federation
[email protected]


MNBC’s Aboriginal Health Improvement Committee announces BC Cancer Wellness Bags

On behalf of Métis Nation British Columbia’s Aboriginal Health Improvement Committee (AHIC) for the North, we’re excited to introduce our newest project:

MNBC – BC Cancer Wellness Bags

MNBC’s Aboriginal Health Improvement Committee consists of Métis Citizens and community members across northern MNBC regions 5, 6 and 7, as well as the Northern Health Authority area.

As defined by Northern Health, “the AHIC is designed to identify local health care priorities and ways to work together to find solutions, build connections by providing opportunities for new and stronger relationships, increase cultural understanding, and incorporate Indigenous people’s perspectives and experiences.”

We are so thankful for the opportunity and ongoing support from the Northern Health Authority to have a Métis-specific AHIC.

Throughout these unprecedented times, we see an increasing number of Métis peoples diagnosed with debilitating chronic diseases, including cancer. As a committee, our focus is promoting healthy, engaging activities while encouraging Métis people to discover their roots and explore their family’s rich culture and history.  Everything we’ve included in the wellness bags has been recommended by both MNBC’s AHIC members and the BC Cancer Indigenous Health team.

Our wellness bags are housed by the Indigenous Health Team at the BC Cancer Centre for the North, in Prince George, B.C. Please note: bags are limited to one per-person, per-calendar year and on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you’re interested in receiving a wellness bag or would like to advocate for a family member or friend, please feel free to email Katina Pollard, Northern Regional Health Coordinator at [email protected] Please include the preferred contact information, such as phone number, of the person you wish to receive a wellness bag.

Please allow 1-3 weeks for confirmation of eligibility. Upon confirmation, you will receive a notification by email or phone to arrange pick–up or delivery. Please note: BC Cancer Wellness Bags are only available to Métis citizens or those who self-identify, and who currently reside in regions 5, 6 and 7.

Thank you,

Aboriginal Health Improvement Committee, MNBC


COVID-19 Vaccine Bulletin #93

June 18, 2021

Today, people who received their first dose on or before May 23 can book a second-dose appointment. Manitobans are strongly reminded to only book their appointment based on the date of their first dose or other provincial eligibility criteria. For more information, visit .

All people aged 12 and up are eligible to book their first-dose appointments.

Individuals can book online at or by calling (toll-free) 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222).

Vaccine Administration

A total of 1,111,776 doses of vaccine have been administered in Manitoba.  This includes 3,979 doses provided to walk-ins at the Leila super site on June 15 to 17.


A total of 15 medical clinics and pharmacies will soon act as regional hubs to offer second-dose AstraZeneca vaccinations. Beginning next week, individuals will be able to use the online vaccine finder at to find a location with available doses.

Due to Pfizer supply issues from the federal government, appointments are not generally available for youth (aged 12-17) at this time, until more Pfizer doses become available. Young people aged 12 to 17 must continue to receive Pfizer for both doses, as this is currently the only vaccine approved for use in this age group.

The Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose First Dose Vaccination Tour will visit six vaccination sites this week to encourage Manitobans to fill additional walk-up appointments for first dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. For more information, including dates and locations, visit .

Pop-up clinics have been scheduled throughout the province in June. Indigenous people can also attend an urban Indigenous clinic led by community organizations in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson and Portage la Prairie.

A complete listing and searchable map is available online at Eligible individuals can book their appointments at these sites online, or by calling (toll-free) 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC).

Vaccine Supply and Distribution

To date, 1,242,140 doses of vaccine have been delivered to Manitoba. This includes:
• 917,280 doses Pfizer vaccine;
• 233,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine; and
• 91,760 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Manitoba is expecting 105,280 of Moderna to be delivered today. Next week, a delivery of 87,750 doses Pfizer vaccine and three shipments of Moderna totalling 240,520 doses are also expected.

Additional Information

To be considered fully immunized, individuals require two doses of vaccine. These can be the same or different brands of vaccine. Individuals who are fully vaccinated can now request a digital or physical immunization card. For more information, visit:

People who received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of Manitoba can now contact [email protected] to update their immunization information. This email address can also be used to request other updates or corrections to a COVID-19 immunization. Individuals may also contact their local public health office with this information if needed.

All Manitobans are encouraged to share their vaccine story, an immunization experience to be celebrated or their thanks to the people who made it possible. Your ‘A Million Thanks for One Million Doses’ message can be shared at

Manitobans are reminded to fill out a second consent form for their second dose appointment. To fill out and print the consent forms before your appointment, visit:

More information about the vaccine campaign in Manitoba is available at  and For regular updates, visit and sign up for the weekly e-newsletter.

All data in this bulletin is current as of June 17 unless noted otherwise.

– 30 –


For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-794-0732.


Media advisory: Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announces funding for Indigenous coastal communities to enhance marine safety across Canada

From: Canadian Coast Guard

Victoria, B.C. – The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, and her Parliamentary Secretary Terry Beech,  will make an announcement about Coast Guard’s Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. This program provides communities with funding to purchase boats and equipment to build up their on-water search and rescue capacity and take concrete steps to strengthen their capacity as part of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Date:                                      Monday, June 21, 2021
Time:                                      9:00 a.m. (Pacific)
Location:                               Virtual event on Zoom, via the provided access link

NOTE: Media wishing to attend the virtual event are required to register with Coast Guard’s Western Region Media Relations at [email protected] before Monday, June 21 PDT. A confirmation email containing the link and instructions for participating in the virtual event will only be provided to media representatives who have registered.


Jane Deeks
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
[email protected]

Kiri Westnedge
Communications Advisor, Western Region Canadian Coast Guard
[email protected]


Inviting All MNO Citizens to an Online Town Hall

This MNO Citizen information session will preview the MNO’s Registry Review Report with a brief Q&A on Tuesday,

June 22, 2021.

This Zoom webinar will open at 7:55 pm, and the meeting will take place from 8:00 to 9:30 pm Eastern Time.

All participants must have an MNO Citizenship number to register. Registration is required to participate in this event.

Please click below to register

Deadline is June 22, 2021 at noon.

Click here to register

Please register early as late registrations can not be accommodated. MNO leadership has been pre-registered for this event.

When you register for this meeting your citizenship will be confirmed, and then you will receive a confirmation email containing your personalized login information about joining the webinar.

A reminder email with your personalized login information will also be re-sent on the day of the meeting. Please do not share your login information as it is unique to you.

Logins on multiple devices are not permitted and may result in you being removed from the session.

This event is for MNO Citizens and is not open to the public.

Registration Support:
Mike Skura [email protected]

Zoom Technical Support:
Linda Ritcey [email protected]

Telephone User Support:
Jessica Mageau [email protected]


Bracebridge woman delivers powerful message to council on Indigenous residential schools – Muskoka Region News

June 18, 2021

‘I don’t want this to become yesterday’s news’

Lynda Nicholson, a member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, brought her powerful message of life growing up as an Indigenous person in Canada, and the impact residential schools have had, to Bracebridge council on Wednesday night, June 16.

“My hope is that this is a starting point for the residents of Bracebridge to educate themselves on these heart-wrenching matters,” said Nicholson. “I don’t want this to become yesterday’s news. I hope we can use the awareness of these atrocities to help us move forward in a positive way and help us work together for a respectful, more understanding world for Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.”

Read More:

Hay River paints crosswalk in solidarity with Indigenous community – Battlefords News-Optimist

June 18, 2021

The Town of Hay River has painted feathers on a crosswalk to recognize the impact of residential schools on its community ahead of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

The crosswalk, at the intersection of Woodland Drive and Courtoreille Street, bears two lines of feathers. Dayna King, a Hay River resident with graphic design experience who helped coordinate the project, said the act was important to stand in solidarity with Indigenous members of the community and show “others do care.”

“For me at least, the significance is about honouring the residential school survivors and the victims and their families, and the impact that has had throughout history. It is still affecting people today,” she said.

“It’s to show them we do care and we are honouring and remembering with them. It’s an important part of our history that we need to remember. We need to address it, and we need to do better in the future.”

Read More:

Giving Tree’ helps celebrate National Indigenous Day – Spruce Grove Examiner

Jun 18, 2021

For many traditional Indigenous Elders, it’s not about how much you have as it is about how much you give.

It is a belief that many Elders live by, and to celebrate this generosity and mark National Indigenous Day (June 21), a Giving Bowl will be placed under a Giving Tree in Parkland County’s Chickakoo Recreation area from June 17 to 22.

“Passers by are invited to take something from the bowl, and put something in if they want, but if they don’t it’s ok too. No strings attached,” said Ted Wright, chair of the Connecting With Our Indigenous Neighbours, the group organizing the Giving Tree.

The group will place the Giving Bowl, created by Parkland Potters Guild member Dianne Meili, along an accessible trail at Chickakoo Lake under a Spruce tree that’s known to be decorated by hikers each Christmas. The ceramic bowl is adorned with the image of a buffalo, an animal that has special meaning for Indigenous people. The buffalo gave its life so Indigenous people could use its meat for food, its hide for shelter and clothing, and horns and hooves for implements. The bowl will be filled with small tokens including books by Indigenous authors for people to enjoy.

Read More:

SFU-supported fund helps Indigenous businesses make their mark

June 18, 2021

Jenn Harper had a vivid dream one night – of Indigenous girls smiling together and wearing lip gloss. Their radiant beauty and happiness left a lasting impression, which inspired her to make that dream a reality.

Harper began to pursue the creation of her own business, Cheekbone Beauty, while working full-time in sales and raising her family. She has also worked hard to learn more about her culture and family history as an Ojibwe woman.

Bringing the dream to life

Harper’s greatest level of support came from Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, with an investment of $350,000. Simon Fraser University has also supported Raven Capital with a $1 million contribution to the Raven Indigenous Impact Fund (RIIF), which helps Indigenous entrepreneurs, including Jenn Harper, achieve their dreams.

Harper says the funding from Raven Capital helped them launch their sustainable collection.

“We craft sustainable colour cosmetics and as Indigenous peoples we realize that we have this completely different view with regards to every living thing in nature – it’s not a commodity to us, we’re in relationship with things from nature including the planet and all its resources.”

Cheekbone Beauty continues to grow and evolve. The company, based in St. Catharines, Ontario now has its own lab with a full-time chemist. There are plans to expand beyond makeup and into skincare. Cheekbone Beauty will also be launching their products in Sephora within the year.

Empowering youth & community contributions

In addition to sustainability, Cheekbone Beauty also gives back to the community. The company donates 10 per cent of their profits to the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s Shannen’s Dream, which advocates for a better quality of education for First Nations youth. The campaign is named after Shannen Koostachin, a Grade 8 student who fought to have a safe and clean school in her northern Ontario First Nations community of Attawapiskat.

“Our mission is to help every Indigenous kid on the planet see and feel their value in the world,” says Harper. “We hope to show the world that you can operate a business that is about giving back to the community, empowering Indigenous youth, and leaving less of an impact on the planet.”

Support for Indigenous entrepreneurs

Created in 2019, the RIIF has so far supported seven Indigenous enterprises including PLATO Testing, Cheekbone Beauty, Virtual Gurus, OneFeather, Satya, Social Awareness Group/Nisto Link and Animikii Indigenous Technology. Raven Capital plans to raise funds for Indigenous entrepreneurs in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Inuit Nunangat next and continue its work into southern Canada and the United States in 2022.

“Raven was established to ensure Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island have access to patient, flexible capital needed to scale operations and achieve transformational impact,” says Stephen Nairne, Chief Investment Officer at Raven Capital. “We are thrilled to have supported Jenn Harper’s journey from solopreneur to building a sustainable cosmetics business capable of competing on the world stage.”

All Indigenous businesses that apply to the RIIF are evaluated based on four criteria including: commercial viability, potential for scale, transformational impact benefits for Indigenous peoples, and Indigeneity in management/ownership and governance.

“SFU is proud to invest in Indigenous-owned and founded companies,” says SFU Associate Vice-President Finance, Alison Blair. “SFU has invested $1 million into RIIF, which has supported seven Indigenous enterprises to-date. And our investment with the Raven fund directly benefits both members of Indigenous communities and the SFU endowment fund, which supports current and future research and students.”

SFU became the first university to invest in RIIF in 2020 and has signed the Canadian Investor Statement on Diversity & Inclusion, an initiative coordinated by the Responsible Investment Association (RIA). Signing the agreement is SFU’s pledge to be accountable, ethical and transparent across investment portfolios and within the organization.

These announcements build on SFU’s responsible investment policy since signing on to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) in 2014. In the PRI’s latest Assessment Report’s Strategy and Governance scorecard, which measures an institutions’ overall approach to responsible investment, SFU scored 29 points out of 30.


NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More