Outstanding Outcomes from Research and Development
Much has been written about how companies or businesses use R&D to improve their products and/or services. But what does it mean here at MFNERC?
First of all it means a very active and exciting department. Broadly put, our R&D program’s role is to discover new knowledge related to First Nations education and then apply that knowledge to fill our schools’ needs. More specifically, our hard working R&D team develops classroom resources – in print, audio and video – in partnership, or on request from the educational leadership at our schools. Priority is always given to culturally appropriate and language based materials. For example, a project that is nearing completion is the Traditional First Nations Community Names Map. As Andy Thomas, R&D Specialist explains, “With this map, we want to show students how our people have always referred to their homelands.”
With 64 communities being featured on the map, the first phase, a largescale 39 x 49 inch wall poster, has been completed. The second phase, which includes a video component, is nearing completion. “Once finished, the map will be an interactive tool. Students will be able to click on a place name and hear the name being spoken in the traditional language, with the English definition.”
Secondly, an important role of MFNERC’s R&D program is to assist our schools in the areas of policy and governance. Ralph Arthurson, our Governance and Research Specialist, provides school board training, as well as assisting schools and education authorities to revise and update policy manuals.
Thirdly, our R&D program constantly works to discover and implement new knowledge and projects. An exciting example of this is the It’s Our Time First Nations Education Tool Kit. Along with The Assembly of First Nations, MB Education, and MB Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, our R&D team helped research, develop and design a fabulous and fun new resource for teachers, administrators and anyone else with a desire to gain a better grounding in First Nations history and culture. The Kit is currently being pilot tested in six schools (three First Nations and three provincial) in Manitoba. “We would love to one day see this kit in every school,” explains Violet Okemaw, Director of Support Services. “For our First Nations children, so they can learn more and be proud of their culture and history; but also to set the stage for a new relationship and understanding between First Nations and non-First Nations people.”