“Honouring Our Past. Shaping Our Future.”

MFNERC staff were proud to take part in the Educating our Generations Together Community Education Conference at Nisichiwayasihk Cree Nation, June 3-4. The theme of the conference was Honouring our Past, Embracing the Present, Shaping the Future.

On the first day, keynote addresses were presented by former Education Director, Alfred Linklater and MFNERC Executive Director, Lorne Keeper. There was also a historical overview of the NCN Education Authority and a presentation by Emma Gossfeld on the challenges of local control. Breakout sessions took place in the afternoon. These included wetatoskemitowin or working together, the importance of Cree language and culture, and student retention. The groups returned to the plenary and reported recommendations to the audience. In the evening there was a feast, which included performances by teachers and was highlighted by student performances.

Hosted by Otetiskiwin School

On the second day, workshops took place and MFNERC staff, as well as local school staff, led these informative sessions. For example, Principal, Gail Gossfeld-McDonald’s workshop was on “Strengthening First Nations Schools in Manitoba”. Of the many topics raised in her workshop, one was having an “open door policy” for parents and elders if they wish to visit the school. Ideas included extending an invitation to parents to come and have a coffee, and visit their child’s classroom; create volunteer opportunities for parents; and provide multiple forums for them to ask questions. Ms. Gossfeld-McDonald also spoke about supporting parents if they require family resources.

Another of the many workshops was Margaret Dumas’ on leadership. Ms. Dumas spoke about the betterment of education for the purpose of strengthening children; bringing community services to school and vice versa; and breaking down walls so that the community, elders, parents and schools become a collaborative voice. Ms. Dumas emphasized that language and culture must be the base for the students’ learning. Some of the issues that came up in her workshop were reinforcing policies for students to be in school and how that can become a reality; collaborating with parents to make them aware of the importance of student retention; and supporting parents to learn the language, perhaps offering language classes. Ms. Dumas summed up the conference best by stating this process as, “building a community of hope”.

Education Conference in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House) from MFNERC on Vimeo.

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