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Mino Bimaadiziwin Partnership
 Newsletter During COVID-19


Teaching and Learning with Mino Bimaadiziwin Homebuilders

Article Courtesy: Darryl Wasteiscoot

As instructor for the homebuilders program, taking an adult education course certificate program was very empowering. I have thirty years of construction and carpentry experience but I also need to know how to teach. When you are teaching adults, the learning styles differ in many ways and are impacted by their individual life circumstances. Taking the course helped me to identify unique teaching strategies to help ensure the student’s success. Clearly, the success of the students in the Homebuilders are needed to make the program successful and for me as an instructor to see their success.


Picture 1 & 2: Outdoor class in  Wasagamack and Garden Hill with Mino Bimaadiziwin Builders Students.
In working with the students, I saw the unique challenges they face, both as students and as members of an isolated community. For example, the cost of living is considerably higher and there are transportation challenges within the communities themselves. The challenges they face on a daily basis can sometimes be overwhelming and their resilience and perseverance inspired me to push myself to provide them with the very best teaching and support I could.

Picture 3 & 4: Students are proud of what they are doing for themselves, their families and their communities.

Success for the students also depends on their relationships with each other and their communities. Students need to feel community support and that their efforts are helpful to the community and not just to themselves. Community support is necessary because it creates a strong sense of belonging and contribution.
The students’ relationship with me as their instructor was also important. Teaching skills and providing knowledge is easy enough. But to teach successfully depends on other factors that as an instructor, you can’t learn from any training but comes from life experience.
Working with Anokiiwin Training Institute (ATI), which is so student-centred in providing Indigenous education to meet the needs of First Nation communities has been very rewarding. ATI has a long history of working with First Nations people and communities. They have a deep understanding of the challenges that communities face. ATI knows there has to be some flexibility in all aspects of program and service delivery to counter challenges as they arise. In addition to this, ATI understands that the instructors they provide also need to have a deep understanding of First Nations communities and the challenges.
For these specific communities, I feel I was very well suited to be the instructor. My professional experience includes a lifetime of carpentry – building houses, capital projects, and structural projects. I have worked in every aspect starting as a labourer, foreman, project manager and business owner. I am also a First Nation person, from an isolated northern Manitoba community. These are factors that contributed to my ability to work well with the students of these communities. I’ve also worked within these specific communities prior to this project. The relationships I already had coming into the community were beneficial as I already had some understanding of the communities and respected their rules and ways of being.

I feel honoured and grateful to have been a part of this project with Garden Hill and Wasagamack. I believe that ATI, with me as the instructor of this project, demonstrated how a First Nation instructor provides culturally-sensitive expertise and knowledge to First Nation students in a First Nation community.

How can we start community foundations that benefit First Nations?


Are Community foundations to fund important projects in each First Nation Community needed?  A First Nation Philanthropic Research Project will explore the perspectives of rural First Nations in Manitoba on Indigenous community-led community foundation model for community economic development. The overall goal of this 2-year participatory project is to build progressive partnerships and collaborations with Manitoba rural First Nation communities, support Indigenous self-determination, and discuss how First Nation communities engage in the community foundation. Dr. Shirley Thompson and her PhD students, Trea StormHunter and Keshab Thapa, plan to work with ten rural First Nations in Manitoba to understand how the First Nations community members want community foundation.  Two of these rural First Nations will pilot the community foundation model, with some funding being raised by Winnipeg Foundation. The project partnership includes the Winnipeg Foundation, The University of Manitoba, and Mitacs.

            The community foundation model, when community-led, has the potential to transform health, housing, education, employment, and the environment, as well as build capacity locally in rural First Nations communities in Manitoba.  The researchers will engage with community leaders, professionals and members to identify community assets and resources needs to create self-reliant and sustainable solutions. The partnership programming acts at the community-level on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996, Vol. 3) Calls to Action for the "injection of capital… with other social and economic activities in First Nation communities will create a synergistic effect, and a source of community healing and economic renewal" (p. 341). Also, this funding grant responds to the National Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action (92. ii) for "equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects". Economic opportunities developed through the community foundation lens focuses on self-reliance and the quality of life in First Nation communities

Article Courtesy: Kesab Thapa and Trea StromHunter, PhD Students, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba.
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Happy 3rd Anniversary to Mino Bimaadiziwin Partnership

The Mino-Bimaadiziwin Partnership has accomplished so much in its first 3 years.  The mission of the talent grant is student capacity building to alleviate the housing and food crisis in First Nation reserves. This talent grant provided funding for 57 undergraduate, 15 master, and 7 doctoral students to study Mino Bimaadiziwin in First Nation communities related to food, housing or education. 
First Nation post-secondary students from two remote communities received stipends to attend a community-led two-year program, with 38 to graduate from homebuilding and/or logging in August 2020. However, all 57 Homebuilder students received certificates documenting skills and knowledge acquisition, and most report positive outcomes.

Figure 1: Mino Bimaadiziwin Homebuilders Students Certificates.

Figure 2: Summary of $ Invested in Building Student Capacity October, 2018 to March 31, 2020.

Overall the actual budget matched the revised budget closely, within 16%, with $196,301 less spending than proposed. The budget is firmly on track. The budget shifts were overall very positive for funding student talent with more student spending in almost all major categories with: 8% more in student stipends at $ 940,051 (81%) spent versus $991,250 (73%) proposed; 154% more on student safety, book and other supplies, with $45,871 spent rather than $6,000 proposed; and 14% ($6,198) more in student Canadian travel. Conference funding was for students only.

Student spending amounted to 89% of the grant, which is 11% higher than the 78% proposed. More spending across the board for all student-items occurred: student stipends were $ 940,051(81% of total grant spent) versus $991,250 (73%) proposed. Undergraduate student stipends increasing by 2% to account for 63% of the total grant versus 61% and spending on graduate students was 17% versus 12% proposed. Also, student safety, books and other supplies were 4% of the total budget versus 0.4% proposed. As well, student travel was 3.6% versus 3.0% proposed.

Partnership talent grant provided funding students to study Mino Bimaadiziwin in First Nation communities related to food, housing or education. $992,120 (89%) of the last three year’s total grant money spent on students. We spent 8% more on students stipend at $940,051 (81%) versus $991,250 (73%) proposed. 

Research programs and partnerships have helped with grant applications by First Nations and First Nation organizations, resulting in  >$2 million to them. Successful grants resulting were: Post-secondary partnership ($700,000), Churchill Regional Economic Development Fund (CRED) with >$200,000 each for two communities for sawmill and housing corporations, ISC Dragon Den's Teaching Kitchen Renovation, First Nations Guardians' Initiative ($25,000), Community Food Centre ($100,000), and others. The partnership is exploring research related to: housing; youth employment; community infrastructure; home design; resilience to emergencies; and, education outcomes through a 3-year longitudinal study.
To date, 14 films, 35 conferences, 9 theses, 2 books, 8 workshops, 2 summer institutes and 11 peer-reviewed publications have effectively mobilizing partnership knowledge (See lists).

A large accomplishment was creating a community-led post-secondary program with Indigenous youth and teachers to build three culturally appropriate homes in two First Nation remote communities. To fund this new education program, this SSHRC partnership successfully co-wrote a grant to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) Post-secondary Partnerships Program with Anokiiwin Training Institute (ATI) and the employment training departments of two communities. Another accomplishment was creating a precedent with the Homebuilder program that ISC allowed First Nation students to both collect a training stipend and retain their full Social Assistance income connected to social housing placements.
First Nation students allowed to both collect a training stipend and retain their full Social Assistance income connected to social housing placements due to a successful request partnership submitted to ISC.  (See letter from ISC)

The Homebuilder students designed and are building homes with local wood materials, as a culturally appropriate hands-on way of teaching Indigenous youth, learning from a team of Elders, carpenters, architects, engineers, and graduate students.  Partnership is currently developing a curriculum, with experts and graduate students, covering six areas: 1. Mino Bimaadiziwin/Personal development, 2. Carpentry, 3. Forest Stewardship, 4. Timber Harvesting and Lumber Production 5. Sustainable Home Design and Care, 6. Practicum.

Once approved by Province for diploma status, will be freely shared, as will blueprints of sustainable houses designed by the project through the Creative Commons platform (see also).

See Full Mid Term Report



Figure 1 : Map developed by Philanthropic Research Project based on information of community foundations from Endow Manitoba and Winnipeg Foundation; Treaty Commissions of Manitoba and Manitoba Land Initiatives (Courtesy: Kesab Thapa)