This article came from MFNERC’s magazine.

By Tamara Eaker Content Development

Last updated | Monday, July 3, 2023

The Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS) recently partnered with the Manitoba School Esports Association (MSEA) to host the first annual Scholastic Esports Expo on May 25 and 26! Esports is a positive step for students in MFNSS, as it allows them to engage in competitive gaming while promoting positive outcomes regarding their academic and personal development.

One of the significant benefits of esports for students is the development of critical thinking skills. In esports, players must make quick decisions and strategic choices in real time, requiring them to analyze and respond to constantly changing situations. This thinking is highly transferable to other areas of their academic and personal lives, such as problem-solving and decision-making.

Furthermore, scholastic esports can provide a sense of community and connectedness for students who may have yet to find this through traditional sports or other academic activities. In the case of Fox Lake School and George Saunders Memorial School (George Saunders), two of our most remote and isolated First Nations, competing in scholastic esports through the Manitoba School Esports Association allows students to compete with different schools and regions across Manitoba, promoting socialization and networking opportunities not previously available. Fox Lake School notes that attitudes towards school and attendance in some youths have improved, resulting from a must-attend school policy initiated to participate in esports as an extra-curricular activity.

Coach Dallas Flett-Wapash of Fox Lake School added, “Esports has brought our community together. The Band Council is considering donating esports jerseys; our students are excited to come to school and play together as a team. We (adults) are excited to watch them compete and come out of their shells, be themselves. It’s great.” Flett-Wapash even hosted a community night of his own inspired by esports. “We used the video game Family Feud to host a community night on the Nintendo Switch in the school gym for everyone. It was a blast. The power of video games is bringing our people closer together; who knew.”

Teamwork and Reconciliation through the Rocket League

The George Saunders Niskak (Cree for “Goose”) had an equally exciting inauguration into the world of esports this season. In April 2023, George Saunders participated in Rocket League, a game where a team of three players used race cars to put a giant soccer ball in a net. Sounds easy, right? That is not the case. It takes impeccable teamwork, collaboration, and communication, not to mention hours of practice, to be successful at this game. Students at George Saunders did just that, yet no one knew how good these kids were.

Initially, George Saunders was placed in the “A” division with over 18 teams across Manitoba competing in April in the MSEA’s Rocket League season. Teams were seeded based on prior performance; George Saunders had no reference point but quickly dominated the “A” division in Middle Years and was asked to level up to the “AA” division.

The students in George Saunders swiftly adapted and managed to place fourth in regular season play, securing them a playoff spot. However, their success did not end there! The George Saunders Niskak finished second overall in the province of Manitoba in the AA division for Middle Years! Congratulations to Sean Laliberty, Liam Saunders, Christopher James, Treyton Beardy, and Darian Saunders on their fantastic finish! Thanks to the coaches, Jonypher Molejon and Benjamin Sinclair, for their support.

Aside from these kids at George Saunders bringing awareness to their First Nation and putting York Landing on the map via esports, they are also making waves with the developers of Rocket League. Users must ensure that explicit language is not used when entering player and team names into Rocket League’s online system. When the commissioner of the Middle Years in MSEA input the team’s name “George Saunders Niskak” into the plan for the playoff bracket, Rocket League decided to “ban” the team name, thinking it was inappropriate. The system does not recognize Cree, or any Indigenous language, which needs to change. MFNSS and the Manitoba School Esports Association will contact Rocket League to rectify this oversight for speakers of Cree and other Indigenous languages in Manitoba— one small step towards truth and reconciliation. Every step counts.

In addition to the previously stated benefits of esports, esports can also be used to promote positive attitudes toward Indigenous identity and culture. One way to do this is by incorporating cultural elements into esports tournaments and events.

First Nations Cultures Incorporated in Minecraft

For example, MFNSS has facilitated game-based learning activities, blended with esports via Minecraft Education, that motivate students to celebrate Indigenous languages, traditions, and artwork. Mahpiya Hdega School (Dakota Plains) recently participated in a design challenge requiring teams of students to cooperatively design an esports logo for their school based on meaningful representations and symbols of Dakota culture. Furthermore, many of our MFNSS First Nations have participated in our Minecraft Education “First Nations Community Challenge,” requiring teams of students to build a First Nation inclusive of respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility. Students’ pride and self-confidence flourish in the classroom with the opportunity to bring background knowledge, land-based education, and distinct cultural context to these design challenges.

The Seven Teachings in First Nations culture is an essential foundation of Traditional Knowledge and wisdom. While esports may seem like an unlikely place to find these teachings, they can be represented in several ways within the world of competitive gaming.

LOVE AND RESPECT: One-way love and respect are represented in esports is through developing positive relationships between players and teams. While competition can often be intense and cutthroat, players who respect their opponents, teammates, and coaches can foster a more positive and supportive community. Demonstrating the values of love and respect in esports can lead to a healthier and more fulfilling experience for all involved.

HONESTY: Honesty is essential in any competitive setting, and esports is no exception. Honesty is represented in esports through fair play, rule-following, and integrity. Cheating or dishonesty can be grounds for disqualification or loss of rank, which promotes a culture of fairness and honesty within the esport community.

COURAGE: Courage is essential for anyone engaging in competitive activities, and esports is no different. Players must show courage in the face of defeat or difficult challenges and make strategic decisions during gameplay. Courageous players who take risks and try new strategies can often come out on top.

WISDOM: Wisdom is represented in esports through strategic thinking, adaptability, and experience. Successful esports players have often gained knowledge through experience, learning from past mistakes, and honing their skills. Wisdom is also demonstrated through thinking critically and making intelligent decisions under pressure.

HUMILITY: Humility is an essential value in First Nations culture and can also be seen in esports. Players who exhibit humility are often more approachable and easier to work with, leading to stronger relationships with their teammates and coaches. Humility

also fosters a sense of self-awareness that can help players identify areas where they can improve and grow.

TRUTH: Finally, truth is an essential value in any community, and it is represented in esports through transparency and accountability. Players who are truthful and transparent in their actions and communications can build trust with their teammates and coaches, leading to stronger relationships and more effective teamwork.

New Esports Teams with Focus on First Nations Languages and Identities

MFNSS is set to develop esports teams across our school system centered around First Nations cultures and languages in the 2023–2024 school year. When competing in esports events or virtual seasons with the Manitoba School Esports Association, First Nations youth can promote pride and accomplishment in their distinct First Nations identity while fostering critical thinking and teamwork skills. The partnership between MFNSS and MSEA, and the participation of Fox Lake School and George Saunders Memorial School, is a positive step towards promoting scholastic esports as a healthy educational activity in Manitoba, fostering positive attitudes towards First Nations identity and culture.

Given its significant growth and impact on the global sports industry, Canada should consider recognizing esports as a legitimate sport, as many countries worldwide have already done, or risk falling behind an industry that continues to flourish and attract a massive and diverse following of players and fans alike.

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June 9th, 2023

On Wednesday, June 7th, a little under 250 students and staff, 12 First Nations school teams from all over Manitoba, kicked off MFNERC’s 3rd annual softball tournament. The morning started looking a little grey and overcast, but by the time students hit the field, the clouds had parted, and the sun was shining.

Physical education and Health Program facilitator Mike Thomas, and Land-Based physical education facilitator Norbert Mercedes, were both in attendance, along with a visit from MFNERC’s Executive Director, Charles Cochran. “I don’t want to sound dramatic, but events like this can be life-changing” for some of the students involved, shared Mike about the tournament. “I have had countless messages from teachers” and all wanting to share their pride and joy from seeing the effect it has had on their students.

Some schools arrived after 13+ hours of driving to make it to the game, big shout out to all the students and staff from York Landing and Spirit Lake for their dedication and time! This year marks the first tournament open to all MFNERC & MFNSS schools. One of the event’s hosts said

“…next year, we’re aiming for double the participation. When the kids are happy, I am happy.”

Mike Thomas

The 12 schools took part in three rounds of games, with the winners of each game round moving on to final playoff matches. The sun was shining, the temperature was around 27◦degrees, the sound of metal bats clinking against balls, the crunch of red dirt under running shoes, and kids’ laughs, cheers, and shouts all filled the air. Lunch was the traditional game day fuel of hotdogs and hamburgers, grilled and served by MFNERC volunteers.  The games started around 9:30 am and continued into the afternoon. The victorious team of this year’s tournament was Kistiganwacheeng Elementary School, beating Chief Sam Cook Mahmuwee Education Center, who came in a close second.


We want to congratulate and thank everyone who made this event the homerun it was! Thank you to our school’s students and staff for making the journey for the game, and congratulations to the winning teams; everyone who played is a winner in our eyes. Thank you to the hosts, Mike, and Norbert from MFNSS, for all the hard work and planning that went into the day, and to all our volunteers who came out as support, we couldn’t have done it without you.

PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS

Lake St. Martin School
Lake St. Martin First Nation
Sergent Tommy Prince School
Brokenhead Ojibwe Nation
Ginew School
Roseau River Anishinaabe Nation
Dakota Plains
Dakota Plains Wahpeton Nation
George Saunders Memorial
York Factory Nation
Long Plains School
Long Plain Nation
Keeseekoowenin School
Keeseekoowenin Ojibway Nation
Lawrence Sinclair Memorial School
Kinonjeoshtegon Nation
Kistiganwacheeng Elementary School
Garden Hill Nation
Chief Sam Cook Mahmuwee Education Center
Tataskweyak Cree Nation
Indian Springs School
Swan Lake Nation
Chemawawin School
Chemawawin Cree Nation
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Registration is now open for the first annual MFNERC Virtual Career Fair. The event takes place Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Sign up today to register your students, children, or classroom to participate in this interactive career fair from the convenience of your homeroom.

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Held from May 8th to 10th, the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre’s (the Resource Centre) 2024 Lighting the Fire Conference (#LTF2024) celebrated 25 years of member First Nations controlling their children’s education. Established in 1998 by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Resource Centre has provided first- and second level services to 51 schools from over 40 First Nations.

Executive Director Charles Cochrane acknowledges the political and educational trailblazers who pushed for the creation of the Resource Centre and guided it through its development. He says he is proud to be a part of the organization’s history.

“As I walked in this year’s Grand Entry with the Elders and former National Chief Ovide Mercredi beside me, I couldn’t help but think of all those people dedicated to improving

education opportunities and outcomes for First Nations children across the province. The Resource Centre is mandated to help First Nations youth find a good life and try to find a healthy balance between the old and new teachings,” Cochrane says.

Since its formation, the Resource Centre has remained committed to its Vision to “Support First Nations to develop and implement a comprehensive, holistic education system inclusive of First Nations languages, world views, values, beliefs and traditions with exemplary academic standards, under First Nation jurisdiction.” Fulfilling the Resource Centre’s mandate included creating the Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS) in July 2017, a system that provides education delivery for 12 First Nations in Manitoba.

Starting with a handful of First Nations education professionals, the Resource Centre and MFNSS now collectively employ over 700 people devoted to making the education experience for youth a positive and holistic journey. The Resource Centre’s services support students’ dreams for the future and focus on their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

The year’s theme, “25 Years: Many Minds, Many Voices,” acknowledged the people who have contributed to the Resource Centre and its work over the past quarter of a century. The Lighting the Fire Conference has always been a source of professional development, teaching the latest information and skill sets to the administrators, educators, and other staff that support First Nation schools.

Below are just a few examples of the workshops held at #LTF2024.


Getting Started with Treaty Education.

Brenda Delorme and Darcy-Anne Thomas, members of the Resource Centre’s Treaty Education Working Group, spoke on Treaty education and their in-service for training staff at First Nations member schools. The working group travels to train school staff to teach the Numbered Treaties using the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba’s (TRCM) Treaty Education Kit.

At these in-services, the working group involves local Elders and Knowledge Keepers who share their perspectives and knowledge about the First Nation’s own Treaty stories and what needs to be done at the school to teach Treaties. Teachers, educational assistants, and principals from the First Nation attend the in-services.

Why teach about the Treaties? Treaties are everlasting, and students need to know their rights and provisions, say the presenters. Students need to learn First Nations perspectives and Treaty stories. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action #62–65 speak on the necessity of teaching about Treaties in schools.

Half the day of a day-long seminar includes discussions about Treaty stories from the area. Fascinating stories often emerge, including those of family members who attended Treaty signings. The TRCM’s Treaty Education Kit is a valuable resource for teaching about pre-confederation and post-confederation Treaties. Further localized Treaty resources are needed, and the Resource Centre plans to support the development of learning materials based on information shared during these in-services.

To receive this critical training, contact the Director of Languages and Cultures, Davin Dumas, at the Resource Centre.


Left: Brenda Delorme, Right: Darcy-Ann Thomas

Math Manipulatives and Deeper Learning.

Michael Valdez (MFNSS numeracy facilitator) and Christopher Llave (Lake Manitoba high school teacher) presented on enhancing mathematical instruction through the use of manipulatives in the classroom. Presenters shared that manipulatives offer a natural way for children to make sense of the mathematics they are trying to learn. Students can use hands-on manipulatives to sort, count, and classify.

Classrooms can include centres with containers of manipulatives by topic, such as a geometry container. The presenters say manipulatives work for all grade levels. Land-based manipulatives like pine cones, animal hide, leaves, and tree sap (it’s sticky, so “links” things together) work well. The presenters suggest the book Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K–12 by Peter Liljedahl for those who want to learn more about a deeper mathematics than rote learning. Attendees appreciated the Kahoot! quiz along with prizes and samples of manipulatives.



Dawn Flood

Positive Guidance Through a Self-Reg Lens.

Resource Centre staff—Dawn Flood, Jody Naruse, and Susy Komishin—shared how to guide students with challenging behaviours using a self-regulation framework. Presenters say educators must dig deeper to understand children’s behaviour and respond appropriately. Part of this process is understanding the difference between misbehaviour and stress behaviour.

“See a child differently and see a different child,” says self-regulation guru Dr. Stuart Shanker.

Children develop self-regulation when they co-regulate with the important adults in their lives. When they need to address challenging behaviour, educators can support students by choosing connection over compliance and by using the five steps of self-regulation: 1) Reframe the behaviour, 2) Recognize the stressors (across the five domains), 3) Reduce the stress, 4) Reflect to enhance stress awareness, and 5) Restore developing personalized strategies to promote resilience and restoration.

Some examples of restoration strategies include having students go outside or providing a snack when children are hungry. The presenters suggest explaining your strategy to the child. A teacher might say, “You have a lot of energy, so we will take an early recess.” Over time, children will learn to understand their stressors and adopt their own personalized strategies to reduce them. This is how children will learn to self-regulate.

Workshop presenters stress using positive guidance and strength-based approaches in the classroom. By identifying and using a child’s strengths or gifts, educators can help them reach their potential to learn, grow, and develop a positive sense of self.

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When Davin Dumas was the Education Director of Fisher River Cree Nation, he engaged the larger community in goal setting and long-term planning for the local schools.

“I felt it was important to bring in the Elders, to bring in the parents, and to make sure a representative of the Chief and Council was there to create the schools’ goals and plans because those decisions directly impact the students, who are the future of the whole community,” Dumas says.

Now, as the Resource Centre’s Director of Languages and Cultures, Dumas recommends member schools make long-term plans to better access the services offered. With a school’s long-term goals and strategy in hand, the leadership and staff of the Resource Centre can better understand what services the First Nation and its students need to meet their education objectives.

“Long-term planning is crucial to properly making the most of slim resources. Picking a destination and a path to walk often cuts down on all the confusion and noise that can be a part of running a school. Proper planning helps First Nations and community leaders create benchmarks and expectations that can then be used to measure progress,” Dumas says.

School plans often touch on desired results in areas like graduation rates, literacy, math skills, cultural competency, fluency in the local traditional language, and inclusive services. However, they can also include things like building new infrastructure, providing access to technology, or adding to the courses and classes offered by the school. Whatever it contains, a school plan allows all stakeholders in a school to have input in setting goals and gain a better understanding of the hopes and dreams of the First Nations students.

Colleen West is the Director of Instructional Services for Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS). She says, “MFNSS has a unique history; when the School System was created, the First Nations determined priorities together with the directors, principals, and facilitators. They identified four priorities for MFNSS that they wanted to follow: creating a culturally responsive environment; providing a learning environment that promotes health, safety, and well-being; promoting an inclusive and respectful learning community that is child-centred, responsive, and relevant; and ensuring support for student learning and engagement through improved instruction and assessment practices.”

West says that a lot of work was done with member First Nations schools to obtain benchmarks and set goals for future growth. This planning included a better understanding of each school’s needs, wants, goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Each school’s plan was created based on gathered information and assessments.

“The MFNSS Strategic Plan is based on the four priorities and is reviewed each quarter to look at the goals, the action items, who is responsible for supporting and meeting the goals, and how to align goals with the school plans. The MFNSS Strategic Plan is a living document. The Strategic Plan changes as each goal is met. MFNSS collaborates and consults with the schools to determine if we want to continue on or create new goals.”

West says the First Nations have a lot of autonomy defining their goals and what they wish to achieve for their students.

“We don’t have cookie-cutter school plans. Each school plan is unique to the First Nation. We have the four priorities for MFNSS, along with school and facilitator work plans, all aligning to meet individual school goals. Each First Nation decides how it wants to meet the four priorities. Once we have that school plan, it is up to our facilitators to work with each First Nation to reach its education goals.”

The school plans outline the path everyone needs to walk to help the First Nations schools make actioning their goals and priorities a reality. Without school plans, it becomes hard to be proactive and meet the needs of the students. Every three years, MFNSS assessment reports measure each school’s progress in meeting its targets. These assessment reports are crucial tools to ensure that priorities are met, and student challenges are effectively addressed.

“We collect a lot of information and assessments, everything from students’ math and literacy proficiency to attendance, credit attainment, and graduation. With this information, the schools can look at their data to decide if their students need more help in a particular area. It is data-informed school planning that helps our staff determine what the needs are and what supports should be provided to the schools.”

West says that in all planning, student engagement and success are the bottom line for all schools, and school planning must put the students first. “We have common goals, and they are all about student success. We work for the First Nations and the students. Whatever they need or want from us, we’re there to provide that support.”

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History was made at Bloodvein First Nation’s Miskooseepi School when it hosted the first-ever Indigenous-held indoor rock-climbing championship. The event, held on January 25, 2024, promoted physical education and brought together students from four First Nations schools.

At a towering 25 feet, the climbing wall was a source of awe and enthusiasm for the Grade 5 to 8 students. Throughout the event, the gymnasium buzzed with excitement. Elders and community members witnessed students from the four schools cheering for all participants. As the climbers dashed up the complex climbing walls, the audience’s encouragement echoed through the air, providing plenty of motivation and support.

The stunning scenery of Bloodvein First Nation made the perfect backdrop for a fantastic championship that thrilled everyone. For many of the youth taking part, it was their first chance to try rock climbing, making the event an unforgettable experience.

Mike Thomas, one of the event’s main organizers, says the First Nations Indoor Rock-Climbing Championship began due to an unexpected encounter.

“I was delivering gym supplies to the Miskooseepi School when I saw this Grade 4 student effortlessly scaling their climbing wall during a rock-climbing session. I thought, this kind of skill needs to be celebrated, and that’s what made me envision a rock-climbing championship. I was just in the right place and the right time to be inspired by First Nations youth,” Thomas says. “We worked with Wild Loon Adventure Company, experts in this field, and they were crucial for prioritizing the students’ safety, which made this a successful event. I think this inaugural championship is a significant moment for Bloodvein, and the Resource Centre too.”

As one of the Resource Centre’s Physical Education and Health Program facilitators, Thomas is humble

about his role in planning the inter-school rockclimbing championship. “Rock climbing isn’t just a

sport. It’s a journey of self-discovery, where every student competes with themselves, overcoming fears and embracing individual growth. Unlike traditional team sports, it’s not about outdoing others. It’s about conquering personal challenges,” Thomas says.

The rock-climbing championship emphasizes innovative physical education programs that engage First Nations students and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle. It also highlights the Resource Centre’s commitment to providing diverse and enriching experiences for First Nations youth.

The first-ever indoor rock-climbing championship was a big success. After the event, the students felt enthused by what they could achieve by working together and never giving up.

“After the championship, the youth were excited, proud, powerful, and eager for more. Meeting other

kids, cheering for everyone, and embracing the challenge, they left with a sense of accomplishment. This event wasn’t just about competition. It was about building connections, overcoming fears, and inspiring a generation to embrace new and empowering experiences. Next year’s event will be even bigger and better,” Thomas says.

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MFNERC Student Wins Bronze Medal at Canada-Wide Science Fair!

On behalf of the Resource Centre and MFNSS, we congratulate Dexter Mentuck from the Donald Ahmo School in Crane River for his outstanding achievements at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. Dexter’s innovative project, “The Hydrating Power of Bear Grease Bath Bombs,” earned him two prestigious awards: a Bronze Medal in the Junior Category and the First Nations University of Canada Award.

Dextor says he was excited and nervous to be a part of the event. “It took me about a week to finish this project, and it required a lot of testing, especially on the bath bombs.”

Dexter’s project explored the hydrating properties of bear grease when incorporated into bath bombs, highlighting an innovative approach to natural skincare. This impressive research demonstrated scientific rigour and showcased Dexter’s commitment to utilizing traditional knowledge in modern applications. His success at the Canada-Wide Science Fair is a testament to his creativity, hard work, and dedication.

Congratulations, Dexter! Your hard work, dedication, and innovative spirit are truly inspiring. Keep shining and making a difference, Dexter—the future is yours to shape!


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Congratulation to all the LTF Winners


First Place: Sidney Harper


Second Place: Marley Leveque


Third Place: Sophia Hayden


Honourable Mentions

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Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth provided the keynote and spoke at other sessions at the Circle of Knowledge and Practices (CKP) Conference in October 2023. She shared valuable information for First Nations staff and students to reflect on as they continue the school year through the winter months. As many will remember, newly elected Premier Wab Kinew attended the first morning of the CKP Conference, which thrilled Tsannie-Burseth who was able to speak with him. She says this election was history being made and looks forward to similar historic events when Indigenous languages are incorporated into the curriculum to produce fluent speakers. Premier Kinew later said, “In my first days as the new Premier of Manitoba, I had the great honour of joining members of the community and strong Indigenous leaders at the Circle of Knowledge Conference. Sitting at the drum and singing with our community was a powerful reminder of what we have accomplished together for our province. This is a new day in Manitoba, where everyone, including Indigenous people, are included.”

Advancing Education through Local Knowledge

Tsannie-Burseth summarized her talk as, “Looking into the past to build Indigenous Education based on local linguistic, Indigenous Knowledge and cultural heritage.” Her information blended perfectly into the theme of this year’s CKP, which was First Nations Ways of Knowing, Being, and Doing. She focused her talk on First Nations languages, Traditional Knowledge and Elders in education, and First Nations ways of teaching, such as land-based learning. Tsannie-Burseth comes by her information through spending 36 years as a teacher, principal, and director of education. She is a Dene speaker and member of Hatchet Lake Dënesųlįnë First Nation. As a residential school survivor, she is a role model for overcoming challenges and advancing in education and her career. She has a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Regina. Tsannie-Burseth is currently working on her PhD at the University of Saskatchewan, studying Dënesųlįnë history, language, and culture. The keynote speaker has strong ideas for advancing First Nations education, but she started by saying why Indigenous peoples need to see such change. Indigenous peoples face socioeconomic inequality compared to non-Indigenous Canadians and are marginalized due to the impacts of colonialism. Colonialism included the forced removal from lands and communities and the residential school system with its mandatory assimilation and adoption of foreign knowledge. The result is high unemployment, poverty, and over-representation in prisons among Indigenous populations, among other discrepancies and hardships.

First Nations Languages Have Top Priority

Tsannie-Burseth says First Nations languages need to be put first and made official. She says that leadership at all levels needs to be involved. The money per student for language learning needs to be increased—the Canadian government did the damage, and it needs to come up with the funds to rectify the loss of languages. The keynote speaker has researched language learning across the world and shared examples of successful language programs from within and outside of Canada. She recommends immersion or bi-lingual programming and says schools have to move away from 45-minute language classes each day. Each First Nation will make its own decisions regarding language programming. An Immersion program is ideal, with students learning in the First Nations language from preschool to Grade 3 or 4. Then a bi-lingual program for the higher grades involving half First Nations language and half English. Models the speaker mentioned include Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School in the Northwest Territories, which benefits from its immersion Kindergarten to Grade 3 option that then transitions to a double-streamed program. https://www.ddec.ca/schools/ deh-gah-elementary/

A positive development Tsannie-Burseth mentions is the use of language apps and games to facilitate language learning. She says to normalize First Nations language speaking in First Nations by encouraging its use in business, local leadership, and mass media.

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Mathematics is a language of numbers that can describe almost everything in the physical world. Increasing the skills of First Nations students within this dialect of figures and equations is important so they have this valuable tool to build a good life. That means training teachers in how this complex language can be made more relatable to students. Recently, the Resource Centre held a Mathematics Roundtable where teachers were taught mathematical principles using First Nations technology, like the tipi and the star blanket.

Chun Ong is a Numeracy and Assessment facilitator with the Resource Centre and says math is a part of everyone’s life. “Math is always a part and parcel, through numeracy, of any culture or group, and it has been a part of Indigenous peoples lives from time immemorial through hunting, fishing, gathering of food, and interaction with the environment. Numbers, patterns and relation, shape and space, and statistics and probability are mathematical concepts and skills that were always used and applied in daily life.”

Ong says the best way to teach math is by relating basic concepts to relatable events, processes, and things in a student’s experience. By doing this, it is possible for a teacher to create building blocks of concepts and skills that can become the foundation of future learning.

“All math concepts and skills are better understood by students when they can relate to things and happenings in their environment—things they have encountered or experienced. For example, the order of operations (BEDMAS) is the opposite of solving equations (algebra). For example, you put on your winter jacket and boots last, just before you leave the house, which is like the order of operations. However, you take off the jacket or boots first when you come home after work. Order of operations (BEDMAS) is doing or moving forward, and solving equations (algebra) is undoing or reversing,” Ong says.

Ong uses the tipi and star blanket to teach basic mathematical principles integral to their creation. Using these tools is important, not only for their relevancy to First Nations students, but also to teach cultural concepts and values to educators who may not be Indigenous. He says the shapes, space, and patterns of the cultural items or objects—including the tipi, star blanket, and drums—are a good starting point for teaching and learning mathematical topics, concepts, and skills in a culturally responsive manner. Relating and applying math to everyday life is the essence of numeracy.

The tipi could be used to teach the basic geometry of 2D shapes and 3D space. For example, by using the equation, πrl, you can derive the curved surface area of a tipi, using the convex, polygonal shapes that form the covering of a tipi, which creates a cone, and thus a circular base, when more poles are added to make the tipi strong. On the other hand, the construction of the star blanket, from a 2D shape to a completed 3D space object, involves almost all the math concepts and skills in geometry. It involves the basic unit of diamonds, forming eight bigger diamonds to complete the eight-point[1]ed star in the centre of the blanket. If you fill in the bigger diamond with the numbers in a certain manner, you will create what is called by mathematicians, the ‘Chinese or Pascal triangle.’”

Ong says Resource Centre events like the Mathematics Roundtable are important to ensure educators are relating lessons to First Nations students in a way that produces positive results, instilling in them the joy of teaching and learning mathematics. “Teacher capacity building and mentoring in Indigenous culture is very important for reclaiming what has been lost through colonization as well as for student and teacher engagement. It is important that teachers and students create a connection socially, academically, and intellectually in math, ELA, science, and social studies, to increase student attendance and academic performance in a cross-curricular manner. These culturally responsive specific lessons and activities also build pride and learning of First Nations values and teachings.”

Ong says it is all about ensuring that First Nations students absorb what can be a difficult subject, with concepts that are sometimes very precise and difficult to explain. Providing teachers with culturally specific ways of teaching helps with this process and creates a better experience for the learners. “In my experience, students always feel proud and are often awed by the many math concepts and skills that they can relate to and understand easily. The tipi, star blanket, and drum, to name a few, are culturally responsive math tools that are very engaging socially, academically, and intellectually. Math, numeracy in action, is no longer the domain of the academics and mathematicians, but it can be a part of everyone’s life.”

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The symposium will take place February 21-22, 2024 at Canad Inns Destination Centre Polo Park.

Manitoba Aboriginal Languages Strategy (MALS) was created to promote, revitalize, and support Aboriginal Languages throughout Manitoba. Ancestral knowledge, as carried in our languages, songs, stories, community histories, and other key practices and customs, connect and bridge generations. The languages of First Nations, Métis and Inuit teach us about who we are as a people. Language creates a strong connection from the past to the present and helps shape Indigenous identity. We recognize the importance of land and the role that the land plays in connecting to our language and history. We also recognize that learning can take place beyond the walls of a classroom.

We invite an interactive approach to share language and welcome individual workshop sessions that may include, but are not limited to:

  • Aboriginal writing systems
  • Teaching language in the digital age
  • Language apps
  • Teacher apprenticeships & Aboriginal language immersion programming
  • Local initiatives & best practices
  • Grandparents and our languages
  • Teaching Aboriginal languages
  • Community based Aboriginal languages programs
  • Language and the Land
  • Language program models
  • Language Resources
  • Stories, songs, and teachings
  • Sharing research and policy related to Aboriginal languages

We invite Knowledge Keepers, Elders, educators, students and other interested community members to this year’s conference.

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To: MFNERC High School Teachers and their classrooms

Date: Thursday, January 18, 2024

Location: Microsoft Teams

Time: 10:00AM – 11:00AM

We invite you to join us in the excitement surrounding the release of MFNERC’s very own Rachel Beaulieu’s upcoming documentary, “A Cup of Cold Water.” This compelling film explores a significant narrative that echoes through history. It follows the remarkable journey of Alfred Kirkness, an advocate for the final resting places of former residential school students.

Long before this issue made headlines, Alfred Kirkness was an advocate, championing the dignity and respect of the final resting places of former students. His determined efforts, captured in “A Cup of Cold Water,” not only exposed the neglected condition of the cemeteries at the Brandon Residential School site but also ignited a worldwide recognition of this issue, underlining the far-reaching impact of his advocacy.

To Register for the screening, please click on the link below ⬇️

https://events.teams.microsoft.com/event/88ce7e57-d9db-41a9-9bb9-022be65bdf6a@1aec7176-66da-4b90-ace5-598755438554

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