Although the high school success rates of our FNMI students often exceed the provincial average, Parkland School Division does recognize that we have some work to do, working hand in hand with our First Nations communities, to increase our success rates even more. I have supported and encouraged a number of initiatives to help our FNMI students in a variety of areas. We do fully recognize the importance of working closely with our First Nation communities, especially with Paul First Nation, from which we educate a number of students.
- Joint (PSD and Paul First Nation) Advisory Committee: Has undertaken an authentic collaborative process regarding Indigenous education in our region. The Advisory Committee has recognized an urgent need to revitalize the Stoney language through a pilot course held last year. As a result, a grant application to Aboriginal Language Initiatives with Heritage Canada has been submitted.
- A community program called “More Than Tea and Bannock” was offered to Parkland School Division and Paul First Nation educators through the Stony Plain Library.
- An Indigenous Youth Mentorship Program was created in conjunction with Paul First Nation, Ever Active Schools, University of Manitoba and the University of Alberta.
- A partnership with Greystone and Paul First Nation grade 5 classes was set up with a framework developed using elders and community knowledge keepers.
- A highly successful workshop was held in Kananaskis last winter attended by two PSD Trustees. Students from Paul First Nation and Memorial Composite High School students also attended sessions aimed at developing communication and coping skills.
- Status of Women Grant application was submitted to support work with First Nations high school aged girls.
- Aboriginal Parent Link was encouraged to bring their services into more schools on a consistent basis to connect parents and students with the various support agencies offered by the provincial government.
- Blanket Exercise was presented in many school settings. Some were led by middle school aged students. All Trustees have taken part. The exercise gives a true and emotional historic journey of First Nation experiences since the first arrival of Europeans.
These are a few of the ongoing meetings and engagement projects that have been undertaken by the project manager, Chief and Elders and community cultural supports, school administrators and educators. Our work is fluid and ongoing and we are seeing positive results.