Contributed by: Kim O’Laney, Vice-Principal, Sagkeeng Consolidated School
In partnership with MFNERC, Sagkeeng First Nation was bustling with excitement March 24-26,as three education events were held at our schools.
On March 24th a Community Education Forum on assessment was held with the theme “Celebration of Learning”. Teachers and students worked hard during the day to set up numerous displays to showcase the great work they have been doing over the past term. Everyone from nursery to Grade 12 took part.
The evening was filled with information sessions, presented in between some lively bingo games. There was also a celebration feast, and a gallery walk. Eighty-four parents and community members were in attendance plus staff from all three schools. The majority of feedback was very positive and parents found the sessions helpful. Many parents also said they would be interested in participating in a school advisory committee. We would like to congratulate all of the students on their success. We are proud of their achievements and celebrate the learning they have done!
We’d also like to acknowledge and commend all of the teachers for their hard work, and all the parents/ guardians and grandparents for their support.
On March 25th & 26th Sagkeeng’s schools hosted a mini-regional educational conference with the theme “Mino-Pimatiziwin: Promoting Positive School Health Practices and First Nation Perspectives.”
Sagkeeng First Nation is committed to providing a quality education where all students are encouraged to achieve personal success. When our schools were first given the opportunity to host this event, the planning committee decided to focus on health and wellness, which we believe is needed if we are to achieve mino-pimatiziwin (the good life). We also believe in embracing our Anicinabe language and culture, enriching community involvement, respecting diversity, and providing a safe, positive learning environment. As such, the goal of the conference was to promote positive mental health practices and to use the medicine wheel framework to promote traditional First Nation Aboriginal approaches to health promotion. A wide variety of sessions were offered including: the Sweat Lodge, Workplace Health & Safety, Mental Health, Classroom Climate, Inclusive Education, Early Childhood Education and Land-Based Programming.
Through the process of planning for the conference, the schools networked with many local health and wellness professionals who graciously volunteered to present at the event. An invitation to attend was extended to many local organizations. We also had visitors from Brokenhead, Bloodvein, Oxford House, Little Grand Rapids, and Swan Lake whom we would like to thank for taking part.
There is critical need for comprehensive health and wellness planning in First Nations schools and communities, particularly given the health and wellness issues that have arisen as a consequence of the intergenerational effects of residential schools and colonization. As administrators we need to embrace the vision of building healthy schools and use a wellness lens as the basis for fostering the emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental health in our schools and communities.
On March 25th & 26th Sagkeeng’s Schools also hosted an Elders’ roundtable with the theme: “Elders’ Perspectives on Achieving Mino-Pimatiziwin (The Good Life)”. The purpose of this roundtable was to obtain feedback on developing school plans in the areas of culture and language. Twenty elders were in attendance, and they all shared their varied perspectives on achieving mino-pimatiziwin. There were many wonderful presentations including those by Dave Courchene, MFNERC specialists and different local organizations including Indian Residential School (IRS) Education Credits and Sagkeeng Cultural Education Center. As well, a school Elders’ advisory group, formed from those present, committed to continue working with the schools on language and culture programming.
March 25th, the events were wrapped up with a banquet and entertainment to celebrate with our staff and Elders. Guests shared a delicious dinner made by Winola and Lauren Canard while enjoying great entertainment that included Jody Gaskin, Larry Guimond, Les Sinclair, Patrick Fontaine, Jodie and Adam Sanderson, Wa Wa Tay Square Dancers, APMA Winner Ali Fontaine, and Canada’s Got Talent winners Sagkeeng’s Finest! Our Sagkeeng talent makes us proud!
On behalf of Sagkeeng’s three schools we would like to thank everyone who took part in making all of our events such a success. Gitchi Meegwetch!