Category: Awards and Recognition

Treaty4Project inspires new way to offer treaty education in Regina

(l-r) Leia Laing, Governor General Julie Payette and Naomi Fortier-Fréçon at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Photo courtesy of VCpl Vincent Carbonneau

Naomi Fortier-Fréçon and Leia Laing are still relatively early in their teaching careers but they have already left an important legacy.

This past November, Fortier-Fréçon and Laing, both graduates of the U of R, received the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching. Governor-General Julie Payette, presented the award at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

They were recognized for co-founding the Treaty4Project in 2014 while they were teachers at Regina’s Campbell Collegiate High School.

Fortier-Freçon, while still teaching, is a U of R student once again, working on her PhD.

“When we accepted this honour we were very happy to see that our project was recognized at a national level,” says Fortier-Fréçon. “A lot of work and effort was put into this project and it was very exciting to see how this education project has evolved since it began in 2014.”

The Treaty4Project 2015 mural is on display at Regina’s Scott Collegiate. Photo courtesy of Leia Laing

The idea for the project came when Laing and Fortier-Fréçon concluded that students were not receiving the treaty education required.

So they started working on a program.

“First, the inspiration was to find a way to ‘think outside the box’ and find a creative way to teach about treaty education,” says Laing. “We were troubled by the reality that our students seemed to know very little about treaty education and when they knew something we noticed that they weren’t necessarily applying their knowledge in their lives. Therefore, they seemed to know the “right answer” on paper, but unfortunately that reality was not reflected in their actions or relationship with their friends and the community around them.”

The teachers started developing their idea. They searched for input. They approached Calvin Racette who was the Indigenous Education Coordinator with Regina Public Schools.

Racette supported the project from the beginning and suggested the teachers include Noel Starblankett, Knowledge Keeper at the University of Regina and Sandra Bellegarde, Indigenous Education Consultant with Regina Public Schools.

“Noel Starblanket was essential in the creation of this educational project,” says Fortier-Fréçon. “His presence allowed us to learn in a personal way about the importance of treaties. He also guided us regarding the respect of Indigenous protocols and offered support to our students.”

More people came onboard and the project “quickly snowballed into a group of inspired, passionate members who became the founding committee. Together we started to imagine the Treaty4Project,”says Fortier-Fréçon.

The principal aim of the project is for student to understand their generation’s relationship with Treaty 4 in Saskatchewan. The project provides students with an opportunity to engage with community members including elders, Indigenous artists, university professors, activists, and education students.

Laing had the idea to use art to help the students reflect about the meaning of treaties in a creative context. The result was a major mural project with Cri-Métis artist Ray Keighley at Regina’s Scott Collegiate in 2015.

A second mural created in 2017 and created with Cri-Ojibway artist Lloyd Dubois is on display at the library at École Elsie Mironuck Community School in Regina.

(l-r) Naomi Fortier-Fréçon, Noel Starblanket, Knowledge Keeper at the U of R and Leia Laing.

The Treaty4Project founding committee worked on organizing a youth conference to deepen the knowledge previously taught in the classroom and allow members of the community to share their stories with the students. Elders were regularly brought into classes.

More than 200 students from four high schools took part in the first conference in 2015. Two more conferences followed and now a fourth one is scheduled for 2018.

“The Treaty4Project has allowed us to have the opportunity to work in collaboration and build relationships among students, teachers and institutions and this is what we believe to be the true meaning of reconciliation,” says Fortier-Fréçon.

Says Laing: “Using personal stories from guest speakers, our students are invited to unlearn the official narrative and open their heart to other realities that they might not be aware of. Understanding these stories helped our students access a more inclusive history narrative and acknowledge that they have the privilege of living here because in the past a treaty was signed.”

Leia Laing is now teaching Grade 6 at École Monseigneur de Laval. She earned her Bachelor of Education at the U of R in 2008.

Naomi Fortier-Fréçon teaches French Immersion at École Elsie Mironuck Community School in Regina. She earned her Bachelor of Education at the U of R in 2007 and her Master of History at Université de Sherbooke in 2010. She is currently a PhD student in the Faculty of Education working under the supervision of Dr. Fadila Boutouchent.

Laing and Fortier-Fréçon say this project was made possible thanks to the support from:

Saskatchewan Arts Board
First Nations University of Canada
Faculty of Education (U of R)
The McDowell Foundation
Regina public schools

Founding Committee Members:

Noel Starblanket
Calvin Racette
Sandra Bellegarde
Monique Bowes
Hillary Ibbott-Neiszner
Dr. Angelina Weenie
Dr. Kathleen O’Reilly from First Nations University of Canada
Artists Ray Keighley and Lloyd Dubois.

The teaching team since 2015 are all U of R Education alumni:

Heather Findlay – Martin Collegiate
Tamara Ryba – Scott Collegiate
Tana Mitchell – Balfour Collegiate
Tiffany Agopsowicz – Martin Collegiate
Janine Taylor and Jessica Moser – Sheldon Williams
Elizabeth Therrien – Campbell Collegiate
Tracey Ellis – FW Johnson High School.

Other Presenters and Supporters:

Dr. Shauneen Pete (former Indigenous Lead/U of R)
Dr. Anna-Leah King (Faculty of Education)
Dr. Jennifer Tupper (Former Dean of the Faculty of Education)
Dr. James Daschuk, (U of R)
Rap singer Brad Bellegarde (aka InfoRed)
Cadmus Delorme (Chief of the Cowessess First Nation)
Dr. Mike Cappello (Education Faculty) and many more presenters from 2015 to the present day.

University of Regina feature story by Costa Maragos

Bac alumni recipients of the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching

*Naomi Fortier-Fréçon et Leia Laing
Lauréates du Prix d’histoire du Gouverneur général pour l’excellence en enseignement 2017
Naomi Fortier-Fréçon and Leia Laing
Recipients of the 2017 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching

Projet multi-écoles, Regina (Saskatchewan)

Le Treaty4Project a principalement pour but d’aider les élèves à comprendre les liens qui relient leur génération au Traité 4 en Saskatchewan, aujourd’hui et dans les années à venir. Grâce à la participation d’aînés, d’artistes autochtones, de professeurs d’université, d’activistes et d’étudiants en éducation, le projet donne aux élèves l’occasion d’échanger avec des membres de la communauté et d’acquérir les connaissances fondamentales dont ils ont besoin pour s’attaquer à des dossiers très complexes. Le projet a été mis sur pied en 2015 avec le soutien du Saskatchewan Arts Board et comporte maintenant deux composantes. La première est une conférence pour les élèves du secondaire à l’Université des Premières Nations du Canada où l’on propose aux participants des ateliers, des discussions de groupe et des réflexions sur l’histoire du traité et l’éducation. En 2016 s’est ajoutée une nouvelle composante faisant appel aux élèves du niveau élémentaire; ces derniers ont alors collaboré avec un artiste local à un projet visant à explorer le concept de réconciliation. Mme Fortier-Fréçon et Mme Laing sont des enseignantes d’histoire du Canada enthousiastes et dévouées et le Treaty4Project est un bon exemple de la façon dont les enseignants peuvent intégrer des gestes de réconciliation concrets dans leur salle de classe.

Multi-school project, Regina (Saskatchewan)

The principal aim of the Treaty4Project is for students to understand their generation’s relationship with Treaty 4 in Saskatchewan, both today and in the future. Through the participation of elders, Indigenous artists, university professors, activists, and education students, the project provides students with a chance to engage with community members and gain the fundamental knowledge they need to tackle very complex issues. The project was first implemented in 2015 with the support of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and now has two main components. The first is a youth conference for high school students at the First Nations University of Canada, which features workshops, group discussions, and reflections on treaty history and education. As a new component in 2016, elementary students collaborate with a local artist on a project that explores the concept of reconciliation. Ms. Fortier-Fréçon and Ms. Laing are enthusiastic and dedicated to teaching Canadian history and the Treaty4Project serves as an example of how educators can incorporate meaningful acts of reconciliation in their classroom.

Reposted from

Naomi Fortier-Fréçon is a graduate of the Bac program and currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education (Supervisor: Fadila Boutouchent). Leia Laing is a graduate of the Bac program. Both are French immersion teachers at Campbell Collegiate in Regina, Saskatchewan. 

Naomi and Leia will be presented with the Governor General’s History Award at Rideau Hall  in Ottawa, ON, on November 22, 2017.

*About Treaty4Project



2017 Pat Clifford Award Winner

Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson

2017 Pat Clifford Award Winner

“Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson’s research is redefining the role of teachers as innovation leaders.”

“Dr. Osmond-Johnson’s research reveals the benefits of teachers assuming leadership roles in designing their own PD and influencing school improvement, and it has the potential to redefine the teaching profession while heightening the quality of instructional practices and learning.”

TORONTO – November 9, 2017 – The EdCan Network is pleased to honour Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson – Assistant Professor of Educational Administration at the University of Regina – as the recipient of the 2017 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education. This prestigious award recognizes her extensive research around teacher professional development (PD) across Canada, which has the potential to reform policies in support of equitable, job-embedded and teacher-driven  professional learning.

During Dr. Osmond-Johnson’s 10 years of teaching in Newfoundland and Labrador, it became apparent the limited time, resources, and support that teachers were granted to guide their own professional learning based on their unique classroom needs. This experience fueled her motivation to elevate teacher voice within school systems. Dr. Osmond-Johnson has since collaborated on numerous high-profile research projects and hopes to eventually establish a national platform that will provide key data on teacher professional learning opportunities across the country.

As co-investigator of “The State of Professional Learning in Canada,” Dr. Osmond-Johnson is working with a team of researchers to study teacher PD across Canada. The group has undertaken case studies in British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta and explores teachers’ experiences and level of autonomy in directing their own learning. The study further highlights the significant role that teachers’ unions can play in providing high-quality PD – indeed a tool for school improvement – which challenges the body of research that characterizes these unions as barriers to educational change. She is also spearheading a research project in Saskatchewan that explores the Facilitator Community, an initiative where classroom teachers develop and deliver PD for their fellow educators. Internationally, Dr. Osmond-Johnson has contributed to a comparative study of teacher PD policies and practices in Canada, Finland, China, Singapore and Australia.

“Teachers learn best when they collaborate with their peers,” explains Dr. Osmond-Johnson. “To do this, teachers need professional learning integrated into their daily classroom practice where they self-assess their practice to improve their own teaching and learning. This is especially true for teachers living in remote locations and who are in short-term contracts, as well as early career and francophone teachers, who are less likely to have these opportunities.”

The Pat Clifford Award Selection Committee was impressed with the relevancy and originality of Dr. Osmond-Johnson’s work, including her determined efforts to scale her research to a pan-Canadian and international level.

“Dr. Osmond-Johnson maintains teacher professionalism as a central tenet of student success, and her research revealing the gaps that exist in access to high-quality professional learning underpins a significant avenue for improving quality of teaching and learning,” says Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Professor and Associate Dean at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education, and Chair of the Pat Clifford Award Selection Committee.

*To access a Q&A article with Dr. Osmond-Johnson, and for a bibliography of her work, please visit:*

*For More Information About Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson’s Research*

Dr. Osmond-Johnson is co-author of Empowered Educators in Canada which debuted as #1 ‘Hot New Release’ and #1 Best Seller in educational administration textbooks on

To access additional *The State of* *Professional Learning in Canada *research publications, please visit: https://www.learningforward.or g/publications/canada-study

*About the Pat Clifford Award*

The Pat Clifford Award recognizes the work of emerging researchers – their research contributions, their promise, and their commitment to breaking new ground or revisiting commonly held assumptions in education policy, practice or theory in Canada.

*About Pat Clifford*

Pat Clifford was one of the co-founders of *The Galileo Educational Network*, which is based in Calgary, Alberta. Pat had an extensive teaching background from primary through graduate level, and was the recipient of numerous awards for both research and teaching practice. Pat passed away in August of 2008 but she left a gift to us in her teaching, scholarly writing, poetry and stories. As a teacher, Pat was steadfast in her belief that each child had the right to succeed brilliantly, and brought to them her own love of literature, writing and history. This award is dedicated to her memory.

*About the EdCan Network*

The EdCan Network is the independent national organization with over 75,000 members working tirelessly to ensure that *all *students discover their place, purpose and path.

President’s Distinguished Graduate Student Award Recipient

President Vianne Timmons and Sylvia Smith at fall 2017 convocation. Photo credit: U of R Photography

Congratulations to Sylvia Smith, Founder of Project of Heart, who received  the President’s Distinguished Graduate Student Award at the fall 2017 convocation. This award recognizes outstanding academic performance and is granted to a student whose graduating thesis, exhibition, or performance and the corresponding defense was deemed meritorious by the examining committee.

How does it feel to be finished your master’s Sylvia? (Read about the obstacles she faced)

“GREAT! In some ways, I can’t believe it’s actually finished. I’ve never really thought of myself as an academic and certainly, with ‘life’ intruding the way it tends to, I never thought I would finish the darned thing. I’m just so lucky to have had a wonderfully supportive spouse and thesis committee (Dr. Carol Schick actually came out of retirement to help out) because they certainly didn’t have to do what they did.”

What excites you about your thesis?

“What excites me so very much is that my findings have already been referenced to support work being done around reconciliation and the necessity of teaching *for* justice and more practically, *doing* it. ”

Sylvia’s master’s thesis is called: Teachers’ Perceptions of Project of Heart, An Indian Residential School Education Project


The purpose of this study was to gain insight into how settler teachers took up an arts and activist-based Indian Residential School Commemoration Project called Project of Heart. More specifically, it sought to assess whether or not the research participants were led to transformation, demonstrated through disrupting “common sense” (racist) behaviours of teachers and students as well as through their engagement in social justice work that Project of Heart espouses.

Since 2007, Ontario school boards have been required by Ministry policy to teach the “Aboriginal Perspective” in their high school courses, yet at the time of the study (2010), there were still very few resources available for educators to do so. There were even fewer resources available to teach about the Indian Residential School era. Project of Heart was created by an Ontario teacher and her students in 2007 in order to address this egregious situation.

The study was guided by grounded theory methods and the findings suggest that while Project of Heart did not achieve “transformation” in its participants as assessed through teachers’ lack of completion of the social justice requirement, teachers indicated that both students and teachers benefitted greatly because of the relevance of the learning.

Defended: April 2017

Thesis Committee:

Supervisor: Dr. Marc Spooner
External Examiner: Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and professor for the School of Social Work at McGill University
Thesis committee members: Dr. Ken Montgomery, University of Windsor, Dean, Faculty of Education and Dr. Carol Shick, former Canada Research Chair in Social Justice and Aboriginal Education

Read more about Sylvia and the Project of Heart here:


Faculty of Education Alumni Crowning Achievement Award recipients

Guy Vanderhaeghe BEd’78
Lifetime Achievement Award

Vanderhaeghe is best known for his trilogy of award-winning literary westerns. His honours include three Governor General Awards for Literature, a Faber Prize in Britain, the Lieutenant-Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and the Order of Canada. Book lovers around the world know him as an exceptional storyteller, but for many in the University of Regina alumni community he is also an admired educator, cherished friend, and someone who is as humble as he is talented. Read more


Dr. Margaret Dagenais BSc’71, CVTED’87, BVTED’91, MEd’97, PhD’11
Dr. Robert and Norma Ferguson Award for Outstanding Service to the University of Regina and the Alumni Association

Dagenais has served the University of Regina Alumni Association as a board member, committee member, on the executive and as a representative to the University of Regina Senate. She has also shared her considerable expertise through her work on the CIDA funded University of Malawi Polytechnic Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational Education Training Reform project. Read more:

fYrefly in Schools receives Prairieaction Youth Leadership Award

(L-R) Minister of Social Services Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Christian Andrew, Lieutenant Governor Her Honour Vaughn Solomon Schofield, Chair of Prairieaction Lisa Broda, fYrefly in Schools Director James McNinch, and Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, Corey O’Soup (Photo credit: Carolyn Spiers, Office of the Lieutenant Governor)

fYrefly in Schools has been awarded a Youth Leadership Award from Prairieaction Foundation (PAF). This is the first year that PAF invited applications for Youth Leadership Awards, which recognize youth and youth initiatives that address safety by promoting healthy relationships and anti-violence initiatives.

The award and a cheque for $3,000 was presented by the Lieutenant-Governor the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield at Government House on May l5, 2017. Christian Andrew, a trans fYrefly summer student (and a secondary English pre-intern in the Faculty of Education), accepted the award and spoke briefly about the work fYrefly is doing to give voice to marginalized youth. Director of fYrefly in Schools Dr. James McNinch reports that during a conversation, the Lieutenant Governor said “she was aware of the good work we were doing and would like to know of any events that she might attend.”

fYrefly in Schools will be using the award money to fund two Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) mini-conferences in Saskatoon and Regina. McNinch says, “GSA members and student leaders will gather to learn about gender and sexual equity and strategies to make their schools more welcoming and inclusive to gender and sexually diverse students.” (One was held in Saskatoon last weekend). A Regina GSA mini-conference will be held on May 27, 2017.

Prairieaction Foundation has an interesting history dating back to the 1989 mass murder of women at a polytechnique in Montreal. The prairie-based non-profit is dedicated to reducing violence and abuse in our society.

(L-R) Lieutenant Governor Her Honour Vaughn Solomon Schofield, U of R and fYrefly student Christian Andrew, and Chair of Prairieaction Lisa Broda (Photo credit: Carolyn Spiers, Office of the Lieutenant Governor)

Faculty member recipient of G.M. Dunlop Distinguished Contribution Award

Dr. Jenn deLugt is the recipient of the Canadian Association for Educational Psychology’s (CAEP) G.M. Dunlop Distinguished Contribution Award for her doctoral thesis, titled Beyond Words: How Learning to Read and Mental Health are Related for Struggling Readers.

Along with the recognition this award conveys, Jenn will also receive a year’s membership in CAEP and an honorarium. She will receive the award on Tuesday, May 30 at the CAEP Annual General Meeting, and has been invited to share her work at the annual Wine and Cheese on May 29, 2017.

Student Artwork Commemorates Arts Education Program

Artist and second-year Arts Education student, Molly Johnson, with her commemorative work of art. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Artist and second-year Arts Education student, Molly Johnson, was commissioned to produce the commemorative piece that will be installed in the Faculty of Education to celebrate the Arts Education program’s 34 successful years in the Faculty of Education and the Fall 2016 introduction of the new Arts Ed program.

Visual Education Chair, Dr. Valerie Triggs says, “The Faculty of Education decided to invite proposals for a work of commemorative art to celebrate the years that the Arts Education program has been in the Faculty and also the transition to the new program. We received many excellent proposals. The selection committee decided to award the commission for this commemorative work of art to Molly Johnson.”

The Faculty also approached the MAP (Media, Arts, and Performance) Faculty, requesting an artist-mentor to work alongside Molly. Dr. Triggs says, “We had the privilege of connecting with a graduate student from MAP, Jennifer Shelly Keturakis.”

On her role as mentor, Jennifer says it was an honour to work with Molly; she is “self-directed, motivated, intelligent and articulate…I had one set of expectations of what my input would be because I made some assumptions based on her being a second year [student], based on my own experience as a second year, but I quickly had to pick a different role.”

Molly’s artwork was exhibited and celebrated on March 7, 2017 at the Student Success Celebration.

To hear Molly’s explanation of her work, view the following video:


MindShare Learning 2016 EdTech Leader (Post Secondary) Award

couros-alecCongratulations to Dr. Alec Couros, an international leader in educational technology, digital literacy, and social media, who was honored on November 3 by MindShare Learning with the EdTech Leader of the Year (Post Secondary) award. The announcement was made at the 7th Canadian EdTech Leadership Summit in Toronto. MindShare Learning aims to transform learning in the 21st century through innovative educational practices in and beyond Canada.
Read about MindShare Learning.