The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA), in collaboration with the SSBA Aboriginal Council, has identified a strategic plan to address First Nation and Métis education in the province’s public schools. The “First Nations and Métis Education Action Plan 2010-2012” contains four strategic results:
To ensure that Saskatchewan School Boards are supported in establishing a representative workforce.
To ensure that Saskatchewan school boards are succeeding in narrowing the achievement gap for children of Aboriginal ancestry.
To ensure that Saskatchewan school boards are establishing effective practices for engaging First Nations and Métis people in the publicly-funded system.
To ensure that the Aboriginal Council is advancing work within the SSBA to support engagement of First Nations and Métis peoples and to strengthen student achievement.
SSBA, “The School Trustee,” November 2010
In line with these strategic results, SSBA has launched new projects and initiatives. One of these projects, initiated through the Aboriginal Employment Development Program, is the Aboriginal Myths and Misconceptions Pilot Project, in collaboration with Horizon School District. The project consists of six one-hour training sessions. Presented through webinar and audio conferencing, the project is provided to staff at various schools in the district. The content covers several areas in Aboriginal education, with the goal of sensitizing individuals to Federal legislation, land rights, traditions and culture of the Métis people, as well as dispelling myths and common misconceptions regarding Aboriginal peoples.
SSBA has also pursued another project to directly affect and improve student achievement and public engagement among First Nation and Métis students in the schools. “Strengthening our Voice” is a guidebook that is in production and co-authored by Karen Shmon of the Gabriel Dumont Institute and Sheila Pocha, Principal at Sutherland School within the Saskatoon Public Schools. The authors point out that the creation of welcoming environments is specific to each school culture and environment.
This is going to be very specific to each school because they each have factors that give them a slightly different set of needs depending on where they are, who the student body is and how engaged the parents are. It’s going to have to be tailor-made and there is no such thing as one solution that will fit all.
Karen Shmon, Gabriel Dumont institute