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Director of Support Services Update

By Violet Okemaw

Aaniin, boozhoo, tansi …I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and my current responsibilities as the Director of Support Services for the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC).  I am responsible for support services provided by the CORE, Education Positive Partnerships (EPP) and First Nations Student Success Program (FNSSP) initiatives.  Within the Core initiative, I work directly with Charles Cochrane, the Research and Development Unit  Manager, Sheila Murdock, Early Childhood Unit Manager, Vera Cochrane, First Nations Languages Unit Manager, and Rudy Subedar, the Integrated Programs Unit Manager.

The R & D Unit are working on projects ranging from curriculum support, school initiated courses, partnerships, publications, governance and policy development, land-based education programs, to name a few, and services are being provided by the Instructional Resource Centres.  The IP Unit,  a new program established this year, focuses on the integration of curriculum into the Sciences.  Some of these projects have included, but are not limited to, the completion of a Project-based Learning Handbook, coordination of the Manitoba First Nations Science Fair Program (MFNSF), National Science Fair (CWSF), Manitoba First Nations Advanced Senior High Science Mentorship and Symposium Program, and the National Aboriginal Science and Engineering Symposium regarding the involvement of First Nations students and schools.  The Integrated Programs team is responsible for the mobile planetarium presentations to schools,  portable science kits training, and the development of  subject integration into Science units.

Additionally, within the Support Services Department, the cross-curricular supports are being provided by Myra Laramee, Cross-curricular Specialist.  Myra has been engaging in discussions and planning meetings with other MFNERC managers and the specialists from the various units.

The EPP initiative includes the Positive Partnerships – Positive Programs, and the Roots of Success programs.  The ROS includes both the Roots of Empathy and the Seeds of Empathy training programs for First Nations schools.  For this 2011-2012 fiscal year, Sheila Murdock and her team will be responsible in both program activities ranging from chairing and facilitating the First Nations Early Childhood Education (FNECE) Working Group quarterly meetings to assisting in the development of a FNECE Model.  This proposed model will be presented at the regional gatherings scheduled during the 2011-2012 year.  Other activities include a Think Tank, and an Action Research Plan that will entail the documentation of the successes, challenges, delivery appropriateness and program effectiveness of the program partnerships.

The Roots of Empathy program will involve professional development training, ROE Mentor Training, showcase presentations, and the development of ROE promotional relations materials from a FN Perspective in pamphlet and CD forms. Other plans include the development and implementation of a program evaluation tool will be developed and implemented for this program.

The Seeds of Empathy program began with the promotion and delivery of the program during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.   Some of the activities include regional meetings, training sessions, and a program evaluation component.  The research and evaluation process is in its 2nd year, and final results will be available in late 2012.

For this year, one of the other programs that I am responsible for is the Learning for Living – Private Home Placement program.  One of the main priorities of this program will be to  focus on completing the PHP Handbook, and engaging in monthly meetings with the PHP Team.  In addition, this program will entail the coordination, and conducting workshops during the months of January 2012 – March 2012.

Lastly, one of the main components of the FNSSP:  Student Retention initiative entails providing immersion and school-based language supports, compiling and recommending resources to First Nations schools, and MFNERC staff.  Vera Mitchell’s team is also responsible in providing   professional development training & supports, specifically the development of language content for the BYKI Software program.  Additionally, the First Nations Languages Unit team have joined the existing MFNERC service delivery teams, conducted and completed some of the language inventories and community visits throughout the province. Future plans include organizing and conducting ongoing meetings and roundtables on the development of a First Nations Languages Strategy to include the role of leadership and the revitalization of First Nations languages. Other research and developmental work that the team is working on is the compilation of the resources and content covered from Phase 1 – 7 of the Instructional Training language program that took place within the last few years.

In closing, I look forward to working with the managers, their teams, and First Nations Schools.

Kichi miigwech. Wiipa miinawa ki ka ozhipii’amooninim! Thank you very much.