The drum was sounded as a Grand Entry was made by special guests and dignitaries to open MFNERC’s 17th annual Lighting the Fire Education Conference. This year the conference is being held in conjunction with the Western Canada First Nations Administrators Education Conference.
As the day one’s Chiefs’ panel got underway, Grand Chief Nepinak reiterated the importance of the grassroots to create change, especially in education, “We know that a top down approach doesn’t work. We don’t want that. That’s what the government of Canada has been trying to do. We want the authority to be with the people at the grassroots level. People on the front line, like you in this room.” And that is what this conference aims to do, through timely discussions, knowledge sharing, and bringing First Nations educators together into a larger community. As the opening ceremonies concluded, and the over 750 attendees dispersed, day one of the conference continued to brim with excitement and energy from start to finish.
After a quick break for lunch and a wander through the buzzing tradeshow, it was time for the workshops to get underway. Everything from Robotics in the Classroom to JUMP Math to Transgender Students in Safe Classrooms was covered.
At the History of Medicine Workshop, participants learned the step-by-step process of how two educators created a new high school course, and got it approved by the Ministry of Education. Teacher, Stacey Maitland explained, “It was a lot of work. A lot of paperwork! But it was so worth it to go through the process and get this brand new course into the curriculum, a course that didn’t appear anywhere in Manitoba.”
With that, it was the end of day one. And with keynote speaker, Joseph Boyden and more workshops on deck for day two, not to mention the Lighting the Fire Banquet in the evening, the excitement was only just beginning.