NAN Education Electronic Newsletter
"New Special Education Dollars now in the hands of First Nations" says INAC
The long awaited new special education dollars are now supposed to be in the hands of the First Nations according to Departmental officials. The Department has processed the cheques for many of NAN’s member First Nations. All cheques were expected to have arrived by the end of April.
However, a separate cheque will not be made for the additional special education funding. Rather, the new funds will be written into the final wrap-up cheque for education monies owed to NAN’s First Nation for the fiscal year 2002-2003.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that some wrap-up cheques are in the hands of some NAN First Nations and others are not.
NAN Leadership to host luncheon meeting with Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation executive will host a private luncheon with the Lieutenant Governor on June 2, 2003 from 12 noon to 1:30 o’clock in the NAN Boardroom. We expect to have no more than 15 NAN leaders in attendance in addition to the Mayor of Thunder Bay and the Lieutenant Governor’s entourage. We will confirm the exact number at a later date.
NAN has offered the Multicultural Youth Association the use of its main boardroom for their meeting with the Lieutenant Government later that day.
National Recognition for Keewaytinook Okimakanak
Keewaytinook Okimakanak is the Ontario Regional Management Organization (RMO) for Industry Canada's First Nation SchoolNet program. The services the RMO project provide include supporting First Nation schools across Ontario in developing high speed connectivity to the internet, providing some hardware and software support for the schools along with a toll free helpdesk service supporting the use of these resources.
Angie Morris and Barb Wong are the First Nations SchoolNet Administrators coordinating the delivery of this program and its support services for the schools. They can be reached toll free at 877-737-KNET (5638).
As part of the RMO project, Keewaytinook Okimakanak's proposal to connected the five other RMO sites into the Kuh-ke-nah Network and provide video conferencing services for these groups was also approved. The installation of the video conferencing equipment was completed in March 2003, creating a national First Nations video conferencing network. The sites are located in the RMO First Nation organizations located in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Quebec City, Thompson and Winnipeg, Manitoba, LaRonge, Saskatchewan and Vancouver, BC.
For more information, check out Industry Canada's press release that is posted on K-News.
Medical School expected to announce site of Aboriginal Curriculum Workshop
Rodger Strasser, the Founding Dean of the Northern Ontario Medical School (NOMS) will announce the details of the promised Aboriginal Curriculum Workshop over the next few days. Bruce Beardy, workshop planner presented the top three proposals to the advisory committee. The top three proposals included: Wauzhushk Onigum Nation (Rat Portage), Batchewana First Nation and Whitefish Lake First Nation. A reference check has begun the process. Once the reference check is made the invitations can be issued.
Confirmed speakers for the workshop include:
NAN is expected to send a delegation of forty people to the workshop, the largest group.NAN Artist teams up Oskhi-Pimache-O-Win to develop Traditional Curriculum
The Great Rivers Project is a pilot project that Aroland, Long Lake #58 and Ginoogaming First Nations have undertaken to promote and preserve traditional history and culture. NAN artist, John Ferris, founder of the project, says the project will have many spins offs, including inspiring of other communities to collect and write their histories. "One of the goals of this project is to create curriculum for elementary, secondary and post secondary institutions," he said.
Ferris has been developing this concept with grassroots leaders and members of the Matawa, Mushgegowuk and Wabun tribal areas for the past few years. Aroland, Long Lake #58 and Ginoogaming have reiterated their enthusiasm and overwhelming support with band council resolutions (bcr’s) indicating that they want their communities to participate in this pilot project.
NAN Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic supports the Great Rivers Project. "I am impressed that this will be a grassroots-driven project where Oskhi and the Great Rivers Education Project will work with community leaders and teachers, elders, youth and women to develop an accurate and comprehensive history of the participating First Nations." He says this is an excellent example of a partnership between NAN’s post secondary institute and a grassroots community-driven team.
There have been a number of meetings between members of Oskhi and the Great Rivers Education Project to forge a partnership that will best serve the needs of the members of Aroland, Ginoogaming and Long Lake #58.
"I applaud your collective efforts," Kakegamic said, "to develop a classroom curriculum that will speak directly to our students. NAN needs projects such as this one to explore our historical backgrounds and traditional customs that have strengthen our people for generations."
This project blends the efforts of our artists and writers with those with technical expertise in academics, telecommunications and computer technology. It promises to further NAN efforts in the capacity-building process that First Nations communities require to compete in the mainstream economy.
NAN Leadership questions the "suspension" of NAPE
Grand Chief Stan Beardy and Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic met with Fred Gilbert, President of Lakehead University to discuss the impact of the suspension of the Native Access to Engineering Program (NAPE). NAPE has provided Aboriginal students with the necessary academic upgrading, counseling and mentoring to succeed in a rigorous and demanding program such as engineering. Unlike other access programs at LU, funding for NAPE was raised entirely from the private sector, funding which the LU President said had dried up. The NAN leadership was told that private funders were not satisfied that NAPE had produced a large group of Aboriginal engineers and engineering techs. The University is exploring a variety of options to revive the program, including offloading the program to Oskhi-Pimanche-O-Win or Confederation College.
Chief Franklin Paibomsai of Whitefish River disputes this allegation. An engineering graduate from Lakehead, he says the program was successful and is worthy of special funding to continue but is concerned that the program is not suspended but cancelled. "The damage is done," the Chief said, "I find it odd that Lakehead would pull a stunt like this. I never would have graduated had NAPE not existed."
Concerned Aboriginal leaders and grassroots people have been meeting to discuss strategies to revive NAPE. For more information, contact Dilbert Horton, the Executive Director of Seven Generations at (807) 274-2796 or Chief Franklin Paibomsai at (705) 285-4335. Without outside funding, the program was suspended for one year and no new students will be admitted for the upcoming academic year.
NAN Developing Strategy to Increase Recruitment and Retention of Aboriginal Medical Students
Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic is meeting with Lakehead University President Fred Gilbert and Dr. Roger Strasser, the Founding Dean of Medicine of the Northern Medical School, to discuss ways to ensure that NAN members will have the opportunity to enter and to succeed as medical students. There are no plans to offer neither an Aboriginal pre-med program nor an Aboriginal medical school access program at NOMS. Kakegamic is working with Oskhi-Pimanche-O-Win and other Aboriginal post secondary institutes in the North to develop programs that would address the needs of Aboriginal people interested in careers in medicine.
NAN appoints Working Group to establish a Native Elementary School in Thunder Bay
At the last NAN Chiefs Assembly, a resolution was passed that supported the creation of a Native Elementary School in the City of Thunder Bay. A number of questions need to be answered and the NAN Education Unit is seeking the thoughts and concerns about this initiative from grassroots First Nations people in the Lakehead. A working group has been appointed by Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic to implement the Chiefs Resolution.
Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic welcomed everyone and outlined some of the background on this initiative since the NAN Chiefs passed a resolution supporting the creation of a Native Elementary School in Thunder Bay. He said the current boards of education are not serving the needs of Aboriginal elementary school students in Thunder Bay. In order to bridge the "grade gap," he said Aboriginal elementary school students need to be taught in a culturally appropriate learning environment that emphasizes the teaching of traditional languages, culture and history. He says he welcomes the opinions of those in attendance and expressed the hope that the participants would form a working group to set priorities, gather statistics and conduct research. He wants more participation by the other PTOs including the Union, Robinson Superior and Grand Council Treaty #3. He cautioned the participants to expect a battle with those who have a vested interested in protecting the status quo.
Each was given the opportunity to introduce themselves, tell about their backgrounds and offer their opinions about the creation of the proposed school. Some of the ideas included the following:
A number of questions and concerns were raised by the Working Group including the following:
Deputy Grand Chief Kakegamic has written to the NAN Chiefs requesting their assistance in developing a contact list of urban NAN members living in Thunder Bay who may wish to send their children to the proposed Native Elementary School.
Dean of Medicine impressed by KO's achievement's in Tele-Medicine and Tele-Education
The Founding Dean of the Northern Ontario Medical School (NOMS) had an opportunity to see first hand the innovative telemedicine and distance education solutions that one of NAN's tribal councils is implementing to overcome some of the obstacles to providing quality health care and schooling in Ontario's far north. During a two-day visit over March 31 and April 1, Doctor Roger Strasser, MD and two of his staff, along with representatives of Nishnawbe Aski Nation visited Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) in Balmertown and then toured the nursing station in Deer Lake First Nation.
"The achievements of Keewaytinook Okimakanak's K-NET, Telehealth and Keewaytinook Internet High school (KiHS) initiatives are remarkable," the Founding Dean of the Northern Medical School said. "NOMS can learn much from the experiences of KO with regard to the operational platform and educational framework of the Keewaytinook Internet High School, as well, KO’s expanding telemedicine capacity within telehealth."
Geordi Kakepetum, the Executive Director of Keewaytinook Okimakanak said he was impressed with the sincerity and objectivity of Dr. Strasser and his staff. "Roger came here to listen and learn, he asked many questions and was really interested in how our KO First Nations and partners have developed local solutions to regional problems that confront all NAN communities. We look forward to working with him."
During their visit to Deer Lake First Nation the representatives of the Northern Medical School toured the nursing station and observed a real-time telehealth demonstration, which included the examination of a patient in nearby North Spirit Lake First Nation. "This is exactly the kind of experience that our medical students will require if they are going to fully appreciate the opportunities and challenges of practicing in remote and isolated communities in the North," Dr. Strasser said after the tour.
Mayor Duncan Wilson of Red Lake praised both KO and NOMS as leaders who are making a great impact on the lives of all Northerners. "KO has demonstrated how much a group of dedicated people can achieve in just ten short years, when their hearts and minds are focused on the common good. I see the medical school as another force that will improve the quality of life in the north. It’ a great day when good people like you can come together to work toward a better future for all of us."
Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic of Nishnawbe Aski Nation believes that a bridge has been built connecting the Northern Medical School with KO.
"What we are seeing here today is the kind of opportunity that exists when we all work together toward a common goal. We all want better health care and better educational opportunities for our children. Working together, KO and NOMS can become a model of cooperation for all people, Native and Non-Native in the North."
Kakepetum, the Executive Director of KO, thanked his staff in Balmertown, Deer Lake and North Spirit Lake for all their hard work and cooperation in making the NOMS / NAN visit a memorable one. "Everybody pulled together just the way they always do. I’m proud of our family here." The KO Executive Director also thanked Bearskin Airlines for their consideration with regard to the flights to and from Thunder Bay and the charter to Deer Lake.
Ojibway and Cree Cultural Center Highlights
Working together in education is one way of maintaining the language and culture of the NAN area. To help the NAN schools in their attempts to develop successful programs the Ojibway and Cree Cultural Center has been producing curriculum support materials and resources to meet their language and culture needs. Recent materials include Anishininiimowin Stories (2) a Grade 2 reader for Oji-Cree and Northern Ojibway immersion and language classrooms. Anastasia Weesk created the stories while Bart Meekis from Sandy Lake provided the illustrations. This Grade 2 reader is also available in Cree as Omushkegowuk Stories (2). These readers contain ten stories based on the good way of life or milopimatesiwin. This way of life derived from living on the land and obtaining food from it, kept the Oji-Cree, Northern Ojibway, and Cree people strong, happy, and healthy.
In addition, a unit profile has been developed for Book 1 —Us found in Omushkegowuk Stories (1)/Anishininiimowin Stories (1). This unit provides language teachers with an integrated approach to presenting the material found in Book 1 and ideas for presenting the other books in this reader. A similar unit profile will be produced for material found in Omushkegowuk Stories (2)/Anishininiimowin Stories (2) in the future.
To assist NAN schools in developing a challenging and rigorous curricula the Ojibway and Cree Cultural Center has undertaken extensive research on Native language and culture programming. In partnership with Omushkego Education, a Cree language workshop was held with language teachers from the Mushkegowuk communities along the James Bay coast to develop language expectations for the schools in this area. Jim Etherington and Greg Spence of Omushkego Education facilitated this workshop. The results of the language workshop included the production of The Omushkego Language and Culture Curriculum, Early Childhood Education to Grade 3, Cree Language document. Future workshops will involve using the knowledge of the elders to develop cultural expectations to complete this document.
Furthermore, to ensure that high standards are met when implementing the Cree Language document, writing examples for Grade 1 to 3 were created at a workshop at the Great Moon Gathering held in Moose Factory. Three writing examples, in syllabics for each grade, were developed by Cree elders and language teachers from the James Bay coast.