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Lighting the Fire 2012

At this year’s Lighting the Fire, May 9-11, close to one thousand participants converged at the Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre to take part in the 14th annual. This year’s theme was, Learning Communities, Achieving Success. Keynote speakers included Dr. Thierry Karsenti, Canada Research Chair in Information and Communication Technology in Education. Professor Karsenti spoke extensively about the importance of utilizing technology as a teaching tool. He also shared amusing stories about the challenges he had as a student trying to bring his professors up to speed in the age of technology beginning in the 1980’s. He also told us the staggering statistics on the incredible amount of usage students have to the world of technology, whether it is googling information or texting via their cell phones. His presentation was extremely insightful and informative.

On the second day, Dr. John Hansen, member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, spoke about his experience in academia as well as the challenges. He shared a model of restorative justice based on the stories, educational principles, values and practices of the Cree culture.

Also on the second day, the student essay winners, Athena Stepanow (Jr. Winner), Chemawawin School, and Carlton Richard (Sr. Winner), Otter Nelson River School, read their essays to an audience of close to a thousand. There was barely a dry eye in the crowd as their speeches were moving and insightful. The day before, the winners took part in a speech workshop with actor of stage and film Ryan Black at Manitoba Theatre for Young People studios. On the day of their speech, Grand Chief David Harper was on hand to congratulate them. Congratulations to Athena and Carlton!

The Maria Ross Awards Banquet honoured three recipients this year. They were: Bertha Ross of Cross Lake First Nation, Lizzie Daniels of Long Plain First Nation and Audrey Solider of Swan Lake First Nation.  A performance by Neechie Neil, Neil Diamond impersonator, rounded out the evening to make it a memorable one.

Over the three days, forty workshops were offered that gave opportunity for educators to learn, to be inspired and to network with each other.