Session Descriptions

This year’s conference session will focus on three streams: Language & Culture, Recovery Learning, and Student Wellness. Each workshop below has been organized under which stream it will touch on.

Languages and Culture (LC) 

May 19- 2:30-3:45 

B4-LC- Respecting Traditional Languages and Community Dialects – Supporting Language and Literacy for Our Students 

Presenters: Rina Urish, Kelly Ring-Whiklo, MFNERC 

Audience: Teachers, resource teachers, school administrators, parents, caregivers, and school staff 

First Nations English Dialects (FNED) are as unique and numerous as the First Nations in which they developed. Dialects are valuable versions of a language. Participants of this workshop will learn:  

  • The importance of FNED for students’ academics and identity  
  • How teachers can support language, literacy, and the use of FNED in their schools and First Nations
  • Strategies for supporting language and literacy for students 

May 20 1:00-2:15 

C2-LC- Activating a First Nations Approach to Teacher Education  

Presenters: Bobbi Pompana, Dr. Betty Lynxleg; Shirley Myran, Margaret Scott 

Audience: Potential educators, educators, administrators, post-secondary directors, student funders, and leaders 


Indian Control of Indian Education (ICIE) was grounded on the vision of Wahbung, Our Tomorrows, which initiated the local-control school system in First Nations. Although a solid step forward for First Nations, the education of teachers was never fully addressed, and teacher education programs developed for First Nations continue to be governed and regulated outside of First Nations control. Yellowquill University College (YQUC) is the only First Nations higher-learning institute in Manitoba that offers the First Nations Bachelor of Teaching (FNBT) degree program. Anyone who is invested and interested in First Nations right to education and First Nations teacher education should attend this workshop; it will inspire you. Participants can expect an overview of:  

  • The FNBT program and why it is critical to the First Nations local-controlled education system 
  • The FNBT program and its intentions for delivery 

May 20- 1:00-2:15 

C7-LC- Collective Approach to Language Revitalizatio

Presenters: Judy Doolittle, Agnes Carlson, MFNERC; Elder Shirley Roulette, Elder Lillian Lynxleg  

Audience: All 

Embedded in First Nations languages are teachings on ways of knowing, beingdoing, and having a balanced way of life. By introducing different methodologies while focusing on developing speaking skills (oral proficiency), the presenters aim to explore ways to revitalize and maintain First Nations language acquisition for all levels of learners.  

This workshop will present effective strategies and activities to link First Nations people and their languages. Participants will have opportunities to share and learn from each other in networking sessions. The Elders’ perspectives will touch on the value of our ways through First Nations languages and language retainment.  

May 20 1:00-2:15  

C6-LC- Land-Based Education

Presenters: Terry Stagg, Melloney Francois, Elder Mary Stagg  

Audience: Land-based educators, teachers, students, and Elder


This workshop will connect land-based education with activities such as hunting, fishing, and gathering medicines. The presenters will share information on how to prepare kill and turn it into a traditional meal. Through videos, biographies, and an Elder interview, presenters will introduce participants to Lake Winnipeg and Dauphin River First Nation, known to be rich in medicines, the fishing industry, hiking, tourism, hunting, etc. 



May 21– 10:45-12:00 

E3-LC- Session Cancelled


May 19- 2:30-3:45  

B1-LC- Four Sacred Medicines  

Presenter: Gertrude Johnson, MFNERC 

Audience: All 


This workshop will provide participants with an introduction to the Four Sacred Medicines, tobacco, sage, cedar and sweetgrass. The presenter will explain what the medicines can be used for, how to care for each of them, and will demonstrate how to make a medicine bowl. This workshop capacity is limited to 15 people. 


May 21 10:45-12:00  

E2-LC- Indigenization: Language and Culture/Student Wellness 

Presenters: Darlene Ross, Anna McGillivary, MFNERC; Ida Bear and Annie Boulanger 

Audience: Students, teachers, First Nations members, and Elders 


This workshop will share knowledge relative to the conference streams of Language & Culture, Recovery Learning, and Student Wellness. We will explore topics such as: How to identify helpers and First Nations resources for addressing problems associated with safety and well-being, What the roles and responsibilities of family are at different stages of life. This workshop will share information about:  

  • How stories and visual text can be used in teaching  
  • Various ways of telling stories, including mythology, oral history, science, mathematics, and other disciplines 
  • The use of repetitive synchronizing of stories and knowledge  


May 19- 1:00-2:15 and May 20- 2:30-3:45 

A2-LC and D1-LC- Looking Forward: Family Engagement in our First Nations Schools 

Presenters: Brenda Delorme and Bonnie Monias, MFNERC 

Audience: Parents, Elders, teachers, and community partners 


The workshop will facilitate conversations revisiting family engagement and its importance to the holistic development of children. Workshop presenters will offer support and strategies to participants related directly to this year’s conference themes: Language and Culture, Recovery Learning, and Student Wellness. The workshop will emphasize that positive partnerships are built on trust and respect and are needed to ensure student well-being. 


May 21- 10:45-12:00 

E5-LC- Power of the Drum: Singing and Dancing 

Presenters: Erla Cote and Charisse Cyr, MFNERC 

Audience: School staff, teachers, parents, caregivers and community members 


Connecting to this year’s theme of Student Well-Being: Balancing the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit, the presenters will explore ways to find balance by listening, singing, and dancing to the drum. Drumming is healing! Singing is healing! Dancing is healing!  Presenters will share information about the following: 

  • How to start a powwow club 
  • Types of powwow music and songs  
  • Styles of powwow dance: traditional, grass, jingle and fancy dance along with videos of dancing and Grand Entries 

Balance can be achieved by bringing song and dance into the First Nations and schools through the beat of the drum because hearing the drum lifts spirits and gets people dancing! 


May 19- 2:30-3:45 

B6-LC- Sayisi Dene Relocation and Resiliency 

Presenters: Jessie ThomasDiane Powderhorn, MFNERC; Knowledge Keeper Roger Thorassie,  

Audience: Teachers, administrators, First Nations members 


The Sayisi Dene Relocation and Resiliency workshop will tell the story of the forced relocation of the Sayisi Dene from their homeland of Duck Lake, MB, in 1956 to being dumped on the shores of Hudson Bay in Churchill, MB. Participants will learn the historical background of the Sayisi Dene, the social and emotional impact of the relocation, the intergenerational trauma that ensued, and the ongoing resiliency of the Sayisi Dene People. Roger Thorassie, a Knowledge Keeper, will recount touching and humourous stories of how he survived life in Dene Village and overcome many years of addiction to become the survivor he is today. 


Recovery Learning (RL) 

May 19- 1:00-2:15  

A7-RL- Community-Based Recovery-Learning Planning Using Professional Learning Communities and Response to Intervention 

Presenters: Margaret Hart, Charles Fontaine, MFNERC; Elder Ruth Norton 

Audience: K-12 administrators and teachers 


As we anticipate transitioning back to in-class learning and restoring school routines, many of us consider the following: What can we focus on within the new normal? What are the potential challenges? How can we lessen the now heightened learning gaps that existed before COVID- 19? This workshop will focus on Community-Based Recovery-Learning Planning as a responsive process with adaptations and differentiation and will introduce participants to the following:  

  • How to use Professional Learning Communities (PLC) for schools to collaborate and how to enact proactive approaches for students during this difficult time  
  • Understanding Response to Intervention as an educational approach to instruction, assessment, and intervention designed to provide effective, data-based interventions for all students 


May 19- 1:00-2:15 

A5-RL- Math Took Kits and Routines, Grades K-6 

Presenters: Virginia Birch, Pamela Courchene, and Chun Ong, MFNERC 

Audience: K-6 teachers, educational assistants 


Participants of this workshop will be provided a copy of the Math Tool Kits document and suggestions for routines. The key to getting students’ mathematics education back on track over the new academic school year will be working with them through calm, focused teaching and prioritizing the essential math topics, concepts, and skills to reinforce key knowledge and ideas. The plan is to support student confidence and to build learning on strong math foundations.  

Math Tool Kits are an organizational item for math tools and manipulatives used regularly during mathematics classes to support students when they solve problems or engage in math games. Math Tool Kits aim to select tools readily available to support students’ thinking and learning as they develop skills such as reasoning, visualizing, communicating, and making connections with mathematical concepts and their thinking.  


May 20- 1:00-2:15 

C1-RL- Math Tool Kits and Routines, Grades 7-12 

Presenters: Virginia Birch, Pamela Courchene, and Chun Ong, MFNERC 

Audience: 7-12 teachers, educational assistants 


Participants of this workshop will be provided a copy of the Math Tool Kits document and suggestions for routines. The key to getting students’ mathematics education back on track over the new academic school year will be working with them through calm, focused teaching and prioritizing the essential math topics, concepts, and skills to reinforce key knowledge and ideas. The plan is to support student confidence and to build learning on strong math foundations.  

Math Tool Kits are an organizational item for math tools and manipulatives used regularly during mathematics classes to support students when they solve problems or engage in math games. Math Tool Kits aim to select tools readily available to support students’ thinking and learning as they develop skills such as reasoning, visualizing, communicating, and making connections with mathematical concepts and their thinking.  


May 20- 1:00-2:15 and May 21 10:45-12:00  

C4-RL and E7-RL- Microsoft Teams for Business  

Presenters: Erik Reimann and Quincy Wai, MFNERC 

Audience: Principals and school staff  


Microsoft Teams for Business is a digital collaboration tool that builds bridges between educators and educational technology. This workshop is designed for participants who currently have an organizational instance of Microsoft Teams for Business and would like to know some general usage recommendations and valuable tips and tricks! Topics will include Activity Tab, Chat, Calendar, Meetings, managing a team as an owner, sharing, collaborating, and document management.  


May 19- 2:30-3:45 and May 21 10:45-12:00  

B7-RL and E4-RL- Setting Students Up for Success: Recovery Learning Strategies for All 

Presenters: Lindsey Fingland and Ali Jansen, MFNERC 

Audience: Resource teachers, teachers, and educational assistants 


Participants will review what the health profession of occupational therapy involves and how occupational therapists can help with recovery learning using Response to Intervention (RTI). Participants will learn about self-regulation and how COVID-19 has impacted students returning to school. Presenters will discuss classroom strategies for social-emotional well-being and self-regulation. The development of these skills is necessary for all students to learn and experience academic success. By focusing on the building blocks of academic skills, students can meet their academic goals. 




May 19- 2:30-3:45 

B3-RL- What is the MFNERC Digital Learning Environment? 

Presenters: Deborah Tegg-Asidao, Don Monkman, and Gary Page, MFNERC 

Audience: Focus on MFNERC partner schools teaching staff and administration 


The Digital Learning Environment (DLE) is a flexible online-learning community that addresses student learning by supporting First Nations educators’ capacity building. As MFNERC develops a new digital learning environment, we need your expertise to help guide us. Learn about what digital tools are available to empower you as an educator.  




May 19- 1:00-2:15 and May 20- 2:30-3:45 

A3-RL and D2-RL- Wictowin – Strengthening Our Schools Through Recovery Learning 

Presenters: Donna Prince, Evannah Braun, MFNERC 

Audience: School leaders, principals, and vice-principals 


Recovery learning is a responsive process that will enable our First Nations teachers and students to transition back into classroom learning. This responsive process can include assessments of learning, adaptation, and differentiation coordinated collaboratively and intentionally for accelerated learning. This workshop focuses on the social-emotional well-being of school staff and students, how to address student learning gaps, and how to build and sustain the instructional capacity to accelerate student learning. 



May 20- 2:30-3:45 

D4-RL- Say Your Stories by Drawing 

Presenter: Alberto Mansilla, MFNERC 

Audience: Teachers 

Studies have shown drawing taps into the visual, kinesthetic, and linguistics areas of the brain simultaneously. So, information is processed in three different ways, establishing more connections and ensuring deeper learning. 

Children draw to create, develop, communicate, and record their thoughts and ideas. Whether it’s to play or express feelings and meaning, drawing enables them to learn about the world, explore their imaginations, and invent and present new ideas. 

A drawing aid, Tinkercad is a free, easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics, and coding. Attend this workshop to learn about the program used by teachers, kids, hobbyists, and designers to imagine, design, and make anything. 




Student Wellness (SW) 


May 19- 2:30-3:45 

B5-SW- Anyone Can Play! Movement Is Part of Every Student’s Well-Being 

Presenters: Elan Chochinov, Katherine West, Knowledge Keeper Norbert Mercredi, MFNERC 

Audience: Physical education teachers, school-age educators, Jordan’s Principle staff members 


Students who participate in physical activity experience a balanced heart, body, mind, and spirit. The key to student well-being is making participation accessible for everyone. This workshop will introduce participants to the history of First Nations traditional games, the concept of accessibility, and opportunities for activity in Manitoba. Participants will get an overview of the following:  

  • A First Nations perspective on the meaning and benefits of First Nations traditional games  
  • An introduction to accessible sport and the Special Olympics and opportunities
  • An introduction to sledge hockey and the sledge hockey loan program through MFNERC  


May 19- 2:30-3:45 

B2-SW- Building Wellness during COVID-19 

Presenters: Beverly Kithithee, Gabrielle Peterson, MFNERC 

Audience: Educators and First Nations members 


Participants will learn what “wellness” using a holistic approach means during this unique time of COVID-19. Participants will explore strategies for supporting student wellness at home, including connecting to the land, co-regulation, making the best of their home environment, and other general ways of learning and staying well. 


May 19- 1:00-2:15 and May 20- 2:30-3:45 

A4-SW and D5-SW- Deaf Culture, Mental Health, and Wellness for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students 

Presenters: Vernon Jebb, Destiny Cordell, MFNERC; Knowledge Keeper Mar Koskie 

Audience: School staff, Jordan’s Principle staff, parents, families, and First Nations members 


This workshop will focus on the importance of American Sign Language and Deaf culture within the school and home and related to Jordan’s Principle and our First Nations. We will explore ways to raise awareness of potential social and emotional issues related to being Deaf or Hard of Hearing (HofH), in language acquired and language deprivation within Deaf and HofH students, and how to help create balance in the lives of Deaf and HofH students. Participants can expect a deeper understanding of: 

  • The tree of life for Deaf and HofH students and how we can come together as First Nations to help children become balanced and successful in life 
  • The tools and strategies to promote positive well-being and balance the heart, mind, body, and spirit for the Deaf and HofH 
  • The meaning of mental health and well-being 


May 19- 1:00-2:15 and May 20- 2:30-3:45 

A8-SW and D8-SW- Grief and Loss 

Presenters: Michelle Sanderson and Brandee Albert, MFNERC 

Audience: Adults, caregivers, children, and youth  


This workshop will look at the impacts of grief and loss on children, youth, and the adults who support them. Participants will come away with an understanding of how-to best support youth who are dealing with traumatic loss and an understanding of how they grieve. We will explore ways adults can support youth transitioning from loss to normalcy and suggest ways to help them move through the grieving process in a healthy way. 


May 20- 2:30-3:45  

D3-SW- Ironman 2021: Using the Medicine Wheel for Personal Growth and Training 

Presenter: Jonathan Courchene, MFNERC 

Audience: All 


An Ironman triathlon is not for the faint of heart. With a 17-hour cutoff to complete the 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, 112-mile (180.25 km) bike, and the 26.2-mile (42.20 km) run, reaching the finish line requires countless hours of training and preparation. Sounds pretty tough, doesn’t it? Even so, you will find thousands of amateur athletes at the start line with hopes of hitting the finish line’s magic red carpet to hear the words of “You are an Ironman.” The presenter of this workshop will share his experience completing an Ironman triathlon and will frame his expertise within the Medicine Wheel: Mind, Body, Spirit, and Emotion. The target audience will learn: 

  • The importance of a well-balanced Medicine Wheel 
  • How the Medicine Wheel contributes to achieving goals and how it can support a student’s academic journey.  

The presenter plans to, one day soon, share his experience with schools and hopes to inspire staff and students to pursue their goals, big or small, as goals are integral to personal growth and healing. Jonathan Courchene will dedicate his Ironman training and event experience to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 


May 20- 1:00-2:15 

C5-SW- Spiritual Ways of Knowing and Schizophrenia 

Presenters: Chantal Wiebe, Jessica Finucane, MFNERC; Elder Gertie Ballantyne, Elder Bill Ballantyne, Tanya McDougall 

Audience: Teachers, parents, clinicians 


Current medical and psychological services lack awareness about First Nations worldviews and spiritual ways of knowing. As a result, some behaviours and experiences of First Nations young people are attributed to psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. This session will be a conversation with Elders and First Nations members about their experiences, contrasting spiritual ways of knowing with the Western protocol of assessment and diagnosis. Participants can expect a deeper understanding of: 

  • Spiritual knowledge and experiences, including visions 
  • Impact of trauma and psychiatric language, including realities 
  • Assessment and diagnosis 
  • Suggestions for culturally appropriate service 


May 20- 1:00-2:15 and May 21 10:45-12:00 

C3-SW and E6-SW- Strategies to Nurture Emotional Intelligence in Children 

Presenters: Brandee Albert, Michelle Sanderson, MFNERC 

Audience: Educators, counsellors, parents, caregivers, and others who work with children 


The presenter will share practical strategies on promoting healthy child development by incorporating knowledge of the brain to support optimal growth and development. Information will be presented with knowledge from both Western and First Nations perspectives. Participants will take away key strategies to teach and help children in overcoming challenges and obstacles in their lives. 


May 19 2:30-3:45 and May 20 2:30-3:45 

B8-SW and D6-SW- Sessions Cancelled

May 19- 1:00-2:15 and May 20- 1:00-2:15 

A1-SW and C8-SW- Success with Hearing Loss is a Community Affair 

Presenters: Arden Brown, Andrea Richardson-Lipton, MFNERC 

Audience: School staff, community members 


Hearing loss can be very isolating no matter what age we are. This isolation has been present even before COVID-19. Hearing loss at any age can affect the balance of heart, mind, body, and spirit. At times, we all feel isolated and in our own little worlds; but in truth we are part of a community, and the more involved we are, the more we feel that we belong, and we will thrive. People with hearing loss are cut off from their friends, family, and culture.  

Newly diagnosed children are always in a recovery learning process because of the developmental time that was lost. Adults with new hearing aids need time to practise their listening skills. This presentation will provide information about hearing loss to help foster growth, health, and gratitude. With community acceptance and encouragement, people with hearing loss can thrive.  

“Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.” -Quote by Helen Keller 


May 19- 1:00-2:15 and May 21 10:45-12:00 

A6-SW and E1-SW- What is Co-regulation 

Presenters: Susy Komishin, Jennifer Waytiuk, Dawn Flood, MFNERC; Dr. Susan Hopkins 

Audience: Teachers, resource coordinators, educational assistants, and childcare directors 


The early years lay the foundation for health and well-being throughout an individual’s life. As an educator of young children, you play a vital role in helping children develop the self-regulation skills they need to succeed in school and life. It is essential to examine and identify how self-regulation plays an important role in children’s early development. The daily interactions that educators have with children help them to regulate. Co-regulation is an interactive process. Through co-regulation, adults can help children develop self-regulation skills. If you want to learn more about how you can support children to develop self-regulation skills, please join us for the co-regulation session. 



*Break/not workshop 

HeartSmart Kids – A Free Heath Literacy Program 

Presenter: Amanda Nash 

Audience: Educators, educational assistants, administrators, and counsellors 


This 20 minute break time presentation on the free HeartSmart Kids program and downloadable HeartSmart Kids at Home (HSK at Home) activities will focus on enhancing lessons related to health behaviours for children, including:  

  • Nutrition, physical activity, screen time, nature, and mindfulness  
  • Vaping awareness, connection to the community, and understanding feelings  

HeartSmart Kids program and HSK at Home resources are free of charge, include phrases, and encourage the use of traditional First Nations languages. If educators register and order free books for their classroom by the end of May, they can win one of 25 prize packages, including 25 pieces of equipment for their school gym. 



May 20- 2:30-3:45 

D7-SW- Supporting Anxious Thoughts and Feelings in Children and Teens 

Presenters: Alex Holt and Erin Paupanekis, MFNERC 

Audience: School staff, parents, caregivers 


This workshop will discuss ways to support anxious thoughts and feelings in children and teens. First, participants will learn what anxiety is, common childhood anxiety disorders, possible symptoms of anxiety, and ways to distinguish helpful and unhelpful anxiety. Then, participants will learn four strategies to support individuals with anxiety that they can use at home or school. Strategies include: 

  • Recognizing anxiety  
  • Reframing anxious thoughts  
  • Creating a calming tool kit  
  • Addressing fears in small steps  

This presentation fits within the Student Wellness stream, as the goal is for adults to build capacity in recognizing and supporting anxious thoughts and feelings in children and teens. Dealing with anxiety is a central component to social-emotional well-being and holistic wellness. Presenters will share resources for additional information. 


May 21- 10:45-12:00 

E8-SW- Strategies for Creating a Trauma Sensitive Classroom 

Presenters: Nicole Buck, Brittany Klassen, MFNERC 

Audience: Teachers and support staff 


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many unexpected changes and challenges, including school closures, First Nations lockdowns, physical distancing guidelines and isolation. Students are experiencing high levels of stress that affect mental health and wellbeing, with students already coping with mental health conditions or unstable home environments being especially vulnerable. Considerable efforts will be needed to ensure that students’ social-emotional needs are met and feel physically and emotionally safe returning to school. This presentation will offer an overview of trauma and adversity in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, trauma responses, and strategies for creating a trauma-sensitive classroom to support the transition back to school. Specifically, the strategies include creating safe learning environments, building supportive relationships, supporting healthy coping, and addressing stress behaviour.