Community-Led Direction

On June 17, MFNERC managers were on hand in Pinaymootang First Nation to offer valuable services and, more importantly, hear feedback from members of the community.

The MFNERC model involves asking communities what services they require and seeking to understand differences among the First Nations. MFNERC managers helped facilitate a meeting where Elders, the Chief, a Band Councillor, school staff, and community members stepped up and shared their insight.

Teacher Matilda Parisien speaks about the importance of language & culture.
Teacher Matilda Parisien speaks about the importance of language & culture.

The need to focus on the Saulteaux language kept emerging. While talking about generation gaps among Saulteaux language speakers, in a light-hearted moment one attendee quipped that maybe their families didn’t teach them Saulteaux “so they could talk about us.” A question about the availability of language training for the entire community was posed.

Vera Mitchell, First Nations Language Program Manager, presented some ideas for learning languages. Vera urges that communities not get hung up on the different dialects: it’s more important to start the “journey of growth,” whether that involves picking up words in Minnesota or Manitoba. She sees immersion, where all subjects are taught in the First Nations languages, as a valuable model.

Other MFNERC managers shared program information:

  • Assessment is more about talking than testing says Brenda Delorme, Assessment Program Manager.
  •  Sheila Murdock, manager of the Early Childhood Program with its focus on children 0-6 years, fully understands that learning doesn’t just take place at school and feels the answers lie in the communities.
  • Rebecca Ross, Education Systems Manager, shared some history of First Nation’s autonomy over their own education, from Wahbung in the ’70s to Bill C-33 currently under discussion.

A teamwork mentality between MFNERC staff and the communities bodes well for the future of education in Manitoba First Nations.

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