Category: Community Engagement

Reconciliation Garden

In spring 2017, The Faculty of Education’s Indigenous Family Therapies Class (EPSY 870AB) in partnership with the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) have planted a Project of Heart Reconciliation Garden.

The Objectives of this project in our class were:

• To present a culturally-competent counseling intervention by integrating Indigenous knowledge within the more modern ecopsychology approach;
• To encourage a three-way therapeutic alliance between counselor, client, and nature as co-therapist;
• To deconstruct the modern therapeutic “space” by promoting nature-based therapeutic interventions; and
• To identify gardening as a social justice approach.

We based our garden design around the Honouring Memories Planting Dreams

Celebrated in May and June, Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams invites individuals and organizations to join in reconciliation by planting heart gardens in their communities. Heart gardens honour residential school survivors and their families, as well as the legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Each heart represents the memory of a child lost to the residential school system, and the act of planting represents that individual’s commitment to finding their place in reconciliation. In 2016, more than 6500 hearts were planted in gardens across Canada.


For more information about the Reconciliation garden, please contact:

JoLee Sasakamoose –
John Klein –

Reposting from

Supporting the achievements of Aboriginal students in numeracy

In late December of 2016, Dr. Gale Russell was invited by the Student Achievement Support Unit within the Manitoba Ministry of Education to attend their second Mamtowisiwin session that was focused on supporting the achievement of Aboriginal students in the area of numeracy. By the end of an hour-long conversation with members of the unit, the invitation had extended from presenting on the first day of the two-day event, to offering a two-day workshop.

Gale accepted and presented a workshop on February 8 and 9, 2017. In attendance were over 140 school division directors, mathematics consultants/superintendents, Aboriginal consultants/superintendents, Manitoba Ministry of Education personnel, principals, vice principals, teachers, and preservice teachers.

Gale says, “It was a great two days, filled with lots of exploration and discussion of diverse, yet interconnected topics including: mathematics – what it is, what it could be, and what it should be; the Traditional Western and an Indigenous worldview, supporting Aboriginal students in mathematics, supporting all students in mathematics, and how to ‘deal with’ systemic factors beyond their control (such as standardized testing and grading policies. It was a time of seriousness, laughter, and even tears. And, everyone did their homework – both reading articles and counting squares. It was also a great pleasure to meet and work with the invited Elder for the two days, Florence Paynter, a retired educator and scholar, who shared many stories and much wisdom with the group.”

Since the workshop, Gale has been regularly receiving emails from attendees with specific and general questions, as well as an invitation to come and spend the day with the Manitoba Association of Mathematics Teachers on their PD day in October. Gale says, “I have happily accepted the invitation, and look forward to yet another experience of deep insights, thought-provoking discussions, and lessons to be learned, challenged, and unlearned.”

Tupper stresses importance of McDowell Foundation in current climate

Jennifer Tupper, dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, spoke passionately about the importance of the McDowell Foundation and its commitment to action research. Photo: Jens Nielsen

In her keynote address to the McDowell Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala, Jennifer Tupper, dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, told those in attendance that the work of the McDowell Foundation, and its support for teacher inquiry and research, is more important than ever.

Tupper expressed her grave concerns for PreK-12 education in Saskatchewan and elsewhere, citing political, social and economic times that leave us with much uncertainty when it comes to the current educational landscape in the province.

“There is less government support for publicly funded education, less respect and support for the important work of teachers, and increasingly complex and diverse classroom realities that teachers must negotiate in good ways every day with fewer resources at their disposal,” Tupper suggested.

While pledging her deep respect for “each one of you in this room for the contributions you are making to the lives of children and youth in the province,” Tupper drew on her personal experience as a McDowell researcher.

“Since 1991 when it was formed, the McDowell Foundation has supported an amazing legacy of teacher-led research with real, immediate and lasting educational effects by funding almost 300 projects.”

According to Tupper, “if we believe, as educators, that our role is to teach for a better world, then the McDowell Foundation is an important avenue of support for this work which can be, as you all know because you live it, very challenging, emotional, frustrating, but that can also be tremendously rewarding and indeed transformational.”

As an academic herself, Tupper shared how research projects at universities can be a painstakingly slow and circuitous process while clinging to the hope that others will ultimately read the published articles at the culmination of the research.

“Sometimes, the time between finishing our research and publishing is up to five years. Sometimes it is years before we have evidence that our research has been taken up by other academics in other universities around the world,” Tupper shared.

Against that backdrop Tupper said it was her aim to highlight the real and immediate value of the teacher-led research funded by the McDowell Foundation.

“This organization, which is relatively unique in Canada, is one that we must all value, support, and continue to advocate for now and in the future, and especially because these are such precarious times.

“The McDowell Foundation is about research that has an impact. Your commitment to transforming Saskatchewan classrooms and teaching for a better world is where hope resides in this post-truth and precarious world we find ourselves in. Together we are stronger.”

Posted: 03/13/17 12:00am CST

Students Volunteer in Language Program for New Canadian Women

ELNG 200 students are volunteering in a community-based language program for new Canadian women with infants and preschool-aged children. The program was developed by the Faculty of Education’s Dr. Fatima Pirbhai-Illich and Professor Emeritus Dr. Meredith Cherland in partnership with the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

ELNG 200 is a second-year Faculty of Education course that prepares future teachers to support students learning to speak, read, and write the English language. As part of the course requirements, students must be involved in 8-10 hours of critical service volunteering. However, with approximately 30 students per course looking to fulfil their volunteer requirements in teaching English as an additional language (EAL), this requirement can pose a difficulty. Dr. Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, who teaches the course, says, “Sometimes students are left scrambling.” Thus, she began looking for new venues where her students could volunteer.

Dr. Pirbhai-Illich approached a colleague, Professor Emeritus Dr. Meredith Cherland, about the needs of her students. Dr. Cherland, who is chair of the Welcoming the Newcomer Committee for her church, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Regina, had been working with the committee, filling out federal forms of application for sponsoring a Syrian family of six. The committee was aware that the process would take several more months and they were asking themselves what to do in the meantime.

Meredith had met 18-year-old Finda Sam, her husband Amos Kamato, and their baby boy at church. Meredith says, “The couple had spent many years of their young lives in a refugee camp in Guinea, although they were born in Sierra Leone. Their first language is Kisi, an African language I had never heard of.” Finda had approached Meredith, asking if she could help her to learn to speak English better, and to learn to read and write English. Finda was waiting for a childcare opening before she could begin English classes at the Open Door Society. “The classes at Open Door and the Library have a limited number of spaces and there are wait lists,” says Meredith.

With Finda’s situation in mind, Meredith and Fatima started thinking about the many new Canadian women in Regina who could not attend EAL classes because they had babies or preschoolers to care for. They began working to set up a community-based language program for newcomers to Canada, specifically those who are on waiting lists for language classes through the Open Door Society, the Regina Public Library, and the Regina Immigrant Women’s Centre. Fatima with her extensive EAL background was willing to teach a language and literacy class for newcomer women with babies or preschoolers on Tuesday and Friday mornings. This would also give her U of R ELNG 200 students opportunities for volunteering.

Thus resolved, Fatima and Meredith began looking for a space, and were at first discouraged because they had no budget. Meredith, then, applied to the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) for funding. The ELCIC awarded them $1,100.

Central Lutheran Church offered them space without charge. “This is the most important part,” says Fatima, “It’s amazing, and we wouldn’t have been able to offer the program without it.”

The funding, then, would cover tea, juice, and snacks for the students and their children and the services of a coordinator. Cynthia Schultz, a University of Regina master’s student in the Faculty of Education, was hired as the coordinator.

With a space, a teacher, a coordinator and volunteers in place, they advertised the course at the Open Door Society, the Regina Public Library and the Lutheran churches in Regina. The first class was offered on October 4.

Coordinator Cynthia Schultz says, “So far, we have only held five classes, but we have had 11 women attend, with nine attending regularly, and about nine children under the age of five attending. Around seven students from Fatima’s class [ELNG 200] come on Tuesday mornings and nine on Fridays.”

Others from the Faculty are also involved. Dr. Christine Massing  helps with the children on Tuesdays. The students from ELNG 200 and students from Fatima’s master’s classes have taken this opportunity to donate items such as diapers and clothing for the EAL students to take home. Yan Yang, a PhD student, also comes out to help tutor each week.

Some women from the Lutheran Church are also volunteering, helping with set up and bringing homemade halal snacks once per week. Bernice Casper, a volunteer from Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, says, “I think this is so wonderful for new Canadians to have this opportunity to learn English one-on-one—it’s one-on-one—that’s what I want to emphasize about this program. I also love the interactions between the U of R students and the English students.”

Fatima prepares all the course material after assessing where EAL students are at with their English. She also assists her ELNG 200 student volunteers with strategies for teaching EAL. The Regina Public Library has helped with curriculum.

EAL student Rasha has been attending the program for one month and says she likes it; “I’m learning many words,” she says. She is finding new friends through the program; “We help each other with English.”

University of Regina student Jenna Magnusson works with Rasha as her EAL tutor. Jenna says, “This has been a good experience. I’m gaining insights about people learning English.” One of her strategies is to use her Google translator to look up a word in Arabic when her student gets stuck on a word.

EAL student Finda Sam works with U of R student Jonah Norman-Gray. Finda also likes the program and says she is learning. She says, “I want to learn to read, to read and write.” She would also like to learn to drive. Once these skills are in place, she will consider what she would like to do in the future.

What has volunteering taught him? Jonah says, “Awkwardness [when teaching EAL] is not a problem. Situations where you are not sure what to say are normal. Awkwardness just means you care about the situation.” Working as a volunteer in this program is important to Jonah because, he says, “I will be using this [experience] in the future–I think it is very important work.” Jonah adds, “It is good to see this kind of program show up in a grass-roots scenario. This is beautiful–it is the goodness of people.”

Miriam, a mother of four, has also found the program helpful. She says, “Everyone helps me learn English.” She has also found new friendships through the program. U of R students Taylor Raby and Darian Kaszas work together with Miriam using a picture dictionary. Speaking to the value of this experience, Darian says the program “will help a lot for future educators. We are bound to have students who don’t speak English,” and Taylor adds, “or students who are trying to learn another language.” Taylor says she has learned that when teaching EAL, “it really helps if you go slowly and repeat a lot.”

Cynthia Schultz focuses on the value of this program for the EAL students. She says, “For me, I see the importance of these classes for the women who attend. They are no longer at home all day by themselves or only with their young children. They come to us for four hours per week, they get to socialize with other women, and of course, they learn a variety of English language and literacy skills. On the first day, everyone was shy, but now they come in and you can see that they are excited to be here…I have noticed their language skills becoming much stronger and it is wonderful to see.”

For the future, Fatima is interested in making this program a self-sustaining model: She says, “It is for community from community.” She is hoping to interest retired teachers in the program, and more student volunteers.

Meredith says, “Things have been going well, and we will try to continue as long as there is a need. The Faculty of Education and its students are truly in partnership with the ELCIC on this project. The church is providing space to meet, funds to keep us going, and people to help. The Faculty is providing a teacher, and students to provide one-on-one tutoring, practice with English, and friendship. The project is only one thing our church is doing to help refugees, and only one thing the Faculty of Education is doing to respond to the world around us and its educational needs. It seems to me that God is calling us all to contribute. There are, after all, 21 million refugees in the world today, according to the United Nations.”

To see photo gallery, slide your cursor over the photo below and click on the arrow to see the next photo.


ELNG 200 Students Volunteer for Language Program


Rehearsing for MAG’s Meet in the Middle Symposium

Dr. Kathryn Ricketts (dance/accordian) and Dr. Gale Russell (bagpipes) with Ian Campbell (media artist) and Ken Wilson (speaker) rehearsing for the “Meet in the Middle | Stations of Migration and Memory Between Art and Film Symposium” that will be held at Mackenzie Art Gallery Nov. 2-5. They will perform Lucky’s Performance Bricolage, an excerpt from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, on November 4 at 4:15–4:45 p.m. There will be a workshop after the performance for anyone wanting to participate.

From the Symposium Programme: Kathryn Ricketts will perform a particular rendering of Lucky’s monologue from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. This structured improvisation will hinge on fractured text from the play through her unique performative style, folding dance, theatre and voice into a poetic collage of moving images supported by a media artist and bag piper. In the context of the symposium, performer and audience move from Waiting for Godot to notions of liminality and migration and finally to the idea of meeting in the middle from disparate locations.


Research Funding News

Dr. Christine Massing Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Dr. Christine Massing (Faculty of Education), Dr. Daniel Kikulwe and Dr. Donalda Halabuzu (Faculty of Social Work) and Crystal Geisbrecht (PATHS) have signed a research contract with the Regina Region Local Immigration Partnership in the amount of $19,963.80 for the project “Barriers to Newcomer Adaptation and Settlement.” Needal Ghadi, a doctoral student in the Faculty of Education, will be the research assistant.

The mixed methods study will determine barriers and possible supports that may hinder or aid newcomers in adapting to life in Regina. More specifically, the barriers to accessing child care, education, and employment opportunities will be studied. This is a very timely study in light of the dramatic increase in newcomers to Regina in the last five years. No doubt it will make an important contribution to improving newcomer experiences in many aspects of their lives.

Christine says, “I’m looking forward to being part of this important community service project. We hope to engage with newcomers to Canada and learn about their experiences as they adapt to living here in Regina. Our goal is to gain an understanding of the barriers they have experienced as they try to access child care programs, as well as educational and employment opportunities.”

High School Students Take First Year Education Course

For the first time, one of our Faculty of Education courses is being offered with a unique integrated high school course at Campus Regina Public School.

Dr. Twyla Salm is teaching the Education Core Studies (ECS) 100 course at Campus Regina Public as part of their Early Childhood program. Normally, ECS 100 is a required course for first year education students in all programs in the Faculty of Education. At Campus Regina Public, however, the students are still in high school!

In 2012, Regina Public Schools developed Campus Regina Public, an innovative high school program that integrates vocational and technical courses with academic courses for credit. The Faculty of Education and the University of Regina have recently partnered with Regina Public Schools to add another dimension to this already unique high school program. Last winter and, once again, this Fall, ECS 100 is being offered as part of the integrated Early Childhood Program.

Dr. Salm says, “This ECS course is a unique program integrating the learning outcomes of ECS 100, English 20/30, Psychology 30, and Career and Work Exploration 20/30.” Two Regina Public School teachers, Lisa Williams (Career Ed. & Psychology) and Jennifer Minter (English) co-teach with Dr. Salm; they plan, instruct, and evaluate as a team.

Dr. Salm says, “I am very fortunate to work in a collaborative environment with teachers and administrators that are willing to think innovatively about transitioning students from high school to post-secondary. It is a complex pedagogical teaching experience to integrate these courses effectively but our students are learning and many of them are opting to go to university.”

Jennifer Minter, co-teacher with Twyla, says, “We are so very fortunate to be able to offer such an enriching experience for our students. Integrating Dr. Salm’s course into the ECE program that we offer truly raises the bar in terms of the students’ motivation, performance and their overall educational experience. It is a tremendous advantage for them and for us, as their teachers.”

Campus Regina Public students are admitted to the University of Regina through the High School Accelerated Admission Process and receive a university credit when they successfully complete ECS 100. The University of Regina provides a scholarship which covers the cost of tuition so every Campus Regina Public student has the opportunity to experience a university course without the usual expense. Over the past two semesters, the ECS classes have been a diverse group of 32 plus students representing every high school in the city.

In the ECS 100 course, students examine topics such as the history and politics of Canadian school and the purposes it has served; how knowledge has been constructed from various historical contexts, worldviews, and values; and information about literacy and research. Students have a work experience component in which they spend time working in early childhood classrooms. They also gain research skills and learn to think critically and creatively about the construction of knowledge and educational systems.

The following are students’ comments on their experience in this course:

Kayleigh Marsh: I like that this class gives us the opportunity to get a kickstart on our university education and that we’re saving money on the class. We have learned lots about how residential schools affected the children and how they viewed the world.

Selina Musleh: I liked going on my work experience. I learned how to make a lesson plan.

Sydney Vogt: This is definitely my favourite class and it is great to be able to learn more about the development of young kids and get some experience working with them and teaching a few lessons!

Cheyenne Rathje: I love this class. I’m here for two hours a day and I love coming to this class because I get to play with little kids and do fun activities. I would do this class [more] than any other class. This is the best class ever.

Hanna Lapchuk: I have learned in working with younger kids. I have learned how to work with them and understand their learning abilities. I have worked with the kids hands-on and made learning plans with them. Spending 2 hours a day for 2 weeks with them, you really get to know the kids, know how they work, what they like, what they hate, and how to teach them in the best way.

Tabinda and Mishal: Field experience has been amazing! We’ve gained exceptional knowledge. We never knew there was so much in a child at such young ages.

Nicholas Bage: I like how this class gives you real experience on what it is like to teach an early elementary class as well on what to expect in a university class.

Kennedy Weber: I like this class because there is always so much to do and working with the kids is such a learning experience and I love coming here every day.

Chloe Anderson: I love this class because of the hands on experiences we have, along with getting real experience with children of all ages.

Jaida Crichlow:The ECE program has awesome educators and a safe and fun environment to be in.

Brianna Pinay: It is a very great program with many opportunities.

Hailey Harron: I love this program because it teaches you everything you need to become a teacher and how to understand children better.

(Photo gallery below. Slide cursor over photo and click the arrow to see next photos)

U of R at Campus Regina Public

UR S.T.A.R.S. and Faculty Involved with Treaty 4 Youth Conference

In April/May 2016, the Regina Public Schools Treaty 4 Project organized a Treaty 4 Youth Conference. Some of our faculty and our UR S.T.A.R.S. students were involved in facilitating the sessions. Dr. Shauneen Pete and Dr. Michael Cappello presented keynote sessions. Dr. Jennifer Tupper presented “A Promise is a Promise” and Russell Fayant (SUNTEP Regina) presented on “The Métis Experience.”  The UR S.T.A.R.S. group led the students in the Blanket Exercise. Have a flip through the ebook to read learning reflections and to view artwork by some of the students involved.