Category: Equity Diversity Inclusion

De/colonising Educational Relationships

During 2020 and 2021, Dr. Fatima Pirbhai-Illich (University of Regina) and Dr. Fran Martin (University of Exeter) led a series of seminars on
“De/colonising Educational Relationships” and conducted research at the University of Exeter with grants received from the University of Regina’s Faculty of Education, the Centre of Educational Research, Collaboration, and Development (CERCD), the University of Exeter’s Graduate School of Education, and the Centre for Social Mobility.

The seminars were provided in two formats: As a weekend virtual retreat at the University of Regina on November 6 and 7, 2021, and as a series of monthly seminars at the University of Exeter. The topics covered for each university reflect the different audiences and contexts. For those interested in how the ideas were adapted for these specific contexts and audiences, visit the CERCD YouTube channel: Click here

Le Bac student helping to preserve Indigenous languages

4th-Year Baccalauréat en Éducation (Français) student Wahbi Zarry has beaten pandemic odds with his recently released video, 10 Days of Nakota, the second in a series of educational documentaries exploring Indigenous languages.

Produced and directed by Wahbi with director of photography and editor Tony Quiñones, the video documents Wahbi’s educational journey as he learns to speak Nakota in 10 days. The first video, 10 Days of Cree, was released in 2020. Despite the upheaval of the pandemic, including the loss of his father and uncle, Wahbi persevered to finish both his studies and the second video.

Wahbi conceived of the idea of the educational language videos after realizing how existing documentaries about Indigenous languages were slow-paced, not reflecting the vibrancy of the communities documented. “I mean there is no movement. We get the wrong idea about these communities. They are not at all like the documentaries; they are working, there are schools, there are education programs, people are fighting for their language, their culture, and I wanted to show it differently,” says Wahbi.

As a French language speaker who was born in Morocco and grew up in Paris, France, and who immigrated to Canada, where he learned English, and now Cree and Nakoda, Wahbi understands the value of language. “For me a language is what culture sounds like. Language is the mirror of culture. Losing the language is losing the communication part in a culture,” Wahbi is concerned about the loss of Indigenous languages worldwide. To save Indigenous languages, Wahbi says, we must “include the youth and create entertainment to learn this language.”

Enter: Crocus BigEagle and an entertaining video documenting Wahbi’s attempt to learn Nakota in 10 days.

Photo credit: Tony Quiñones.

In 10 Days of Nakota, 10-year-old Crocus BigEagle was Wahbi’s Nakota teacher; he smiles as he says, “She was sufficiently strict.” Their interactions are lighthearted and humorous. The final exam is conducted by the only remaining fluent speaker of Nakota, Elder Peter Bigstone (Ocean Man Nakoda First Nation). To receive his Nakota education, Wahbi moves from Ocean Man First Nation, to Regina, to Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation, and finally to Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation. While the video’s tone is entertaining and heart-warming, that there is only one fluent speaker left is felt poignantly.

Wahbi says, “When it comes to Indigenous language in general, it is something extremely important. What kinds of structures do we have to protect these languages?” Officialization of Indigenous languages is one of the solutions Wahbi suggests: “What we do for the French language needs to happen for Indigenous languages.” Wahbi adds, “Braille and sign language should also be official languages.”

By producing these videos, Wahbi says he has learned to think differently about the concept of identity: “I grew up in Europe where the concept of identity is considered a bit of racism, or chauvinism, but in the Indigenous communities of Canada, identity means something else: language, culture, including others, it means sharing the knowledge. Now I see identity really differently than before.”

Parts of the video were intentionally filmed on the University of Regina campus. Wahbi says, “I did very good to apply to the University of Regina. It is very important to me to represent the University. Being a student here was a blessing.” Wahbi funded these videos himself as a gift, a way of giving back to Canada, a country he says, “gave me the opportunities I needed to do what I wanted to do.”

As a result of the documentaries, Wahbi has been contacted by Indigenous communities and others from around the world. His videos have cleared up a misconception that “All First Nations speak the same language.” Wahbi hopes the next video will be set in New Zealand, learning the Māori language in 10 days.

Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzIBEZIBrps

Alumnus positively influencing change

Alumnus Christian Mbanza (BEd’17–Le Bac) is currently a French Immersion Educator at École St. Mary Elementary School in Regina. You may have seen Christian in the news recently regarding his work to bring Black history into prairie classrooms.

Christian has a passion for history and it is one reason he became a teacher: “I have a passion, not only about important events throughout history, but the people who were able to influence society. I had a history teacher in high school who would always tell us that ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,’ and that continues to echo in my mind. I see how true that is throughout society today.”

Black history is a particular focus for Christian, who says, “I believe that teaching Black history is often misrepresented or ignored in general and has created a negative image and perception around Africans/African-Canadians. In order for the perception to change, we must first know the history and properly teach the history. When students, Black or White, learn about the positive contributions of Black people, whether it be in science, art, law, and so forth, they are able to gain an appreciation and a new understanding. To ensure that Black history is being implemented, I encourage teachers to use resources by Black authors, writers, artist, and refer to famous Black scientists and mathematicians and incorporate primary sources into reading lists.”

A second passion for Christian is people, especially youth, which is another reason he became a teacher: “An educator can positively influence and change the course of a person’s life and that has always been my goal in becoming an teacher,” says Christian.

After 5 years of teaching experience at the elementary level, Christian has had the opportunity to define and refine his teaching philosophy. He says, “Experience is the best teacher. I have learned that effective teachers allow their students to make connections between content and acquire new knowledge that transforms into new ideas. That is why teachers have such a crucial role in the advancement of the community. Further, I am a firm believer in the power of relationships. Strong, positive relationships between teachers and students in the classroom are fundamental to promoting academic and overall student growth.”

Christian values the B.Ed. program he took with the Faculty of Education, “The B.Ed program has shown me the importance of challenging students to be the best that they can be so that they can positively influence our community.” Earning an education degree was, says Christian, “One of the proudest accomplishments of my life… I gained a passion and found purpose in education. Education has allowed me to gain problem solving abilities from multiple perspectives and, in my opinion, it has always held an important role in shaping the future of our society.”

Offering shout-outs to former professors, Christian says, “I had some very influential professors like Clay Burlingham, who changed my entire perspective on how history was taught; Dominic Sarny, who was instrumental in teaching me about cultural pride; and Jean Dufresne, who showed me how to implement my passion into what I teach and how I teach it. A lot of how I teach has really come from my education at the University and these professors especially.”

The most memorable experience Christian had as a French le Bac student was his experience at Laval University: “As a French education student, in order to develop our skills in French, second-year students spend two full semesters in language and cultural immersion at Laval University. This experience allowed me to grow as a person, student, and a teacher. By far the most memorable experience!”

Christian has now decided to work on his master’s degree with the Faculty of Education. “Pursuing a master’s will allow me to grow as a person, and I believe that it will help me create an inclusive classroom in a diverse world, while learning and growing my passions. As an educator I believe it is very important to continue to create the necessary changes in your life and in your classroom to impact our youth and our community.”

Why become a teacher? To be a role model

A story can be told about each of Education student Nahanni Evelyn Rose (Adams-Lindberg)’s names, which is not surprising when you consider that she was named by her mother, Carol Rose GoldenEagle, the 9th poet laureate of Saskatchewan. She was named after the Nahanni River located near Yellowknife, in Canada’s beautiful North West Territories (NWT). Yellowknife is where Nahanni spent her early years until the end of Grade 6, when her family moved to Saskatchewan. “Nahanni” is a Dene word that means “strong rock,” referring to a large rock that juts out of the Virginia Falls on the Nahanni River. Nahanni herself is a mix of Cree and Chipewyan (Dene). Her middle name, Evelyn, was given to her after the Evelyn Falls in the NWT. Given the meaning of her names and a childhood lived out in Yellowknife, it is little wonder that Nahanni loves to spend time in the outdoors and to hike.

Nahanni feels little connection with her current last name Adams-Lindberg. Adams is the name of the family who raised her mom after she was scooped in the 60s. And Lindberg is the family name of her father, who left when she was very young. “I still have a close relationship with my dad, but my name has no significance to me; that is why I want to change it to Rose, which has more meaning.”

Rose was name of the family’s first pet dog, adopted when they relocated to Saskatchewan. The significance of the name Rose, says Nahanni, “is that there are four letters in the word and there are four people in our family. Roses are beautiful but they have some thorns, like we have.”

Rose, the pet, brought their family together through the hardships they experienced after moving away from Yellowknife and through the difficult financial and emotional time while Nahanni’s mom, Carol, transitioned from being a journalist with CBC to a full-time artist/writer. Carol had been working on her first novel, Bearskin Diary, on top of her regular job and single parenting while the family lived in Yellowknife. But after a friend who had deferred his dreams until retirement passed away, Carol decided not to put off working on her art.

A year or so after settling down at Regina Beach, Carol left her job with CBC to establish herself as an artist. Nahanni says, “We ended up getting poorer at first. I know what it is like to grow up without money. But it all paid off in the end.” Nahanni points to the struggles faced by their family as showing, “what it’s like being raised by a single mom from the 60s scoop.” The difference being, “My mom ensured we grew up with a loving mom, something she never grew up with, a mom. I am living a happy life regardless of the obstacles my family has faced—we always make it out strong.” This outcome aligns with the oft-repeated family mindset of “Everything is going to work out.” And it has. Carol is now a successful published novelist, poet, playwright, visual artist, and musician and Nahanni is on her way to her chosen profession: teaching.

Growing up in Yellowknife was a great experience for Nahanni: “I loved it! I grew up with my brothers, grew up on the back rocks, playing outdoors, in the bush.” Nahanni is the twin sister of her younger brother (by 11 minutes) Danny, and the younger sister of Jackson. “It was like growing up with your best friends. They really looked out for me and made sure I was included,” says Nahanni.

Comparing her schooling experiences in Yellowknife to Saskatchewan, Nahanni says, “In Yellowknife, the students were mostly Indigenous. We didn’t see each other as colour; we saw people as their personalities. We were also taught Indigenous culture in our curriculum with activities like sewing class and a hunting class where teachers and Elders would take us out to the bush to learn how to snare rabbits and to dry meat. When we moved here, I felt like it was Danny and I, probably two out of the five Indigenous people in the school. It was hard making friends here. I’m just happy that I had Danny, he was kind of my best friend. I felt like I didn’t get bullied a lot. It took adapting to a new environment to learn who I am and I am happy in my place in life. I didn’t experience racism the way my mom did, but I felt that people did judge me by my look and not my personality.”

A couple years after moving to Regina Beach, however, their family became accepted as “locals” in the small town, and life became easier. “Now I work at the Beach Bar and I’m a local and everyone knows me,” says Nahanni.

When the time came for choosing a career, Nahanni couldn’t decide. “When I graduated high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all,” she says. It wasn’t until she turned 21 that Nahanni took steps towards deciding on a career. She made a pros and cons list for a variety of career options, and education was the option that stood out for her. “It checked off all the boxes: I’m good with people, love kids, and I want to be a good role model. I want kids to grow up with someone who actually cares because I feel like I’ve had teachers in the past, where some cared and some didn’t. I could see myself as a teacher who cares. Something inside of me spoke to me: ‘Be a teacher.’ You just get those gut feelings.”

While many of her family and friends affirmed and encouraged her choice to become a teacher, Nahanni remembers specifically one of her Lumsden high school teachers, Ms. Winter, who was a great influence on her. “She was the one who paid close attention to me; she built that student-teacher relationship. She made me feel seen and heard. Ms Winter would say, ‘Your mom raised you well’ and ‘You’re a good kid.’ That made me feel seen as an individual who is capable, able to do things, even if I didn’t understand something right away.”

Nahanni considers her older brother Jackson a role model as well because he tutored her throughout high school in math: “Jackson was patient even when I was frustrated. He would calm me down and encourage me.”

Being a role model is why the teaching profession is so significant; Nahanni says, “We are the educators that need to be there for students, not just as a job, but as they develop. A teacher should be someone that students look up to for the rest of their lives. Someone who is a role model. I want to be a role model.”

Nahanni chose the University of Regina (U of R) for her elementary teacher education program for several reasons: She wanted to stay in Regina because it was close to her mom and her twin brother. Nahanni adds, “I thought it would be a great place to study. I had heard from friends and friends of friends that this education program is the best in Canada.”

Her experience at the U of R has been positive. Nahanni says, “I love it. I was first accepted into the Faculty of Arts. I didn’t get into the Faculty of Education, I think maybe because I was a bit late sending in forms. I took three classes in the Arts program that all transferred over into my education program.”

The next year Nahanni was accepted as a transfer into the Faculty of Education. “I was so happy. It was the best thing ever. I called my mom and my dad and I cried and danced. It was a lot of emotion. I was alone in my house. I am really happy. It all worked out. That mindset of when I was a kid—I stay true to that today. Everything will work out,” she says.

A major obstacle Nahanni had to overcome to go to University was her tendency toward procrastination. Nahanni says, “I kept making excuses and putting it off, telling myself I was going to apply. Mom and Jackson kept saying, ‘Just apply!’ Jackson on a daily basis asked ‘Have you applied yet?’ One day I just did it because I didn’t want him asking me anymore. The next time he asked, I could say, ‘I did it already.’”

As advice to others considering becoming a teacher, Nahanni says, “Just put in your application. Don’t make excuses and see where it goes. Who knows, it might change your life. If you’re nervous or scared, that’s the point where you push yourself a little, because you know you want to become a teacher. I was nervous, too, afraid I wasn’t good enough to be a university student. Now I don’t think that at all. I know I can do it.”

Inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow Incentive Award recipient announced

Award announcement: Dr. Needal Ghadi has been awarded the inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow Incentive Award in the Faculty of Education. Dr. Christine Massing, who has co-published with Dr. Ghadi on four refereed journal articles, will serve as his Postdoctoral Fellow supervisor.
 
Dr. Ghadi completed his Ph.D. in the Faculty of Education in 2020 with the supervision of Dr. Andrea Sterzuk. Given his outstanding academic performance, the Faculty of Education nominated him for the Governor General Academic Gold Medal and he was the recipient of the Associate Dean’s Graduate Students Thesis Award in 2021. He has co-published six journal articles and presented locally, nationally, and internationally.
 
According to Dr. Ghadi his doctoral study, “documented the intersections between language learning and capital of Syrian men living in Regina; finding that their established identities were eroded or altered due to the loss of their linguistic capital.”
 
As a Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Ghadi will extend his doctoral work to study the impact of COVID-19 on the language learning of adult Syrians in urban and rural Saskatchewan.

Study informs services and supports for South Central Saskatchewan newcomers

With the considerable increase in Saskatchewan’s ethnocultural diversity, understanding newcomer resettlement and integration processes in local rural and smaller urban communities is critical to the development of services and supports that will contribute to newcomer success, to the benefit of both local communities and the newcomers who reside in them.

To fill in current gaps in understanding, a University of Regina research team partnered with Prairie Skies Integration Network (PSIN) to conduct a local study entitled, “Immigrant Settlement and Community-Newcomer Integration in South Central Saskatchewan: A Local Data-Based Study.” The team consisted of Dr. Miguel Sanchez (Principal Investigator, Faculty of Social Work), Dr. Christine Massing (Co-Lead, Faculty of Education), Dr. Daniel Kikulwe (Faculty of Social Work, York University), Dr. Oluwasegun Hassan, (Saskatchewan Health Authority), Dr. Jérôme Melançon, (La Cité universitaire francophone), Lucrécia Raquel Fuhrmann (Ph.D. Candidate,
Faculty of Education) and Stephen Davis, (Ph.D. Candidate, Faculty of Education).

The research team set out to study the accessibility of the following five key topics that have been determined to contribute to successful immigrant resettlement and newcomer integration: education, employment, health and wellness, housing, and transportation. What follows is a summary of the educational findings of this study.

The literature confirms that further education allows newcomers to mobilize their existing resources, re-establish their credentials, develop connections, participate fully in the Canadian workplace, and integrate into their new society. For increasing income and employment rates, the research establishes the value of attaining a Canadian post-secondary education.

However, newcomers can find the transition into the Canadian educational system challenging; the system is especially difficult for those living outside of the urban areas due to lack of opportunities. Some newcomers emphasized the need for additional supports for understanding the Canadian system as well as their need to feel a sense of belonging in the system.

Challenges to navigating the education system and accessing further education. The researchers found, “Nearly one-third of survey respondents indicated that ‘knowing English’ was a pathway to further education.” Learning the Language was identified as a “a significant challenge” that must be overcome for newcomers to access further education and employment and thereby to successfully integrate. This study found that several challenges affect language learning including: access to training (which is limited by the lack of transportation, time due to family commitments, and classes tailored to newcomers’ specific needs); age at the time of migration (several participants of the study felt that coming to Canada when they were school aged facilitated their learning of English); and confidence to take risks and speak to others in the new language (opportunities to practice are necessary for learning language.) Access to minority language training, such as French education in Saskatchewan was said to be “especially challenging.”

Other factors related to education and affecting integration include the major challenge of having foreign degrees and credentials recognized. In addition, a lack of childcare and the prohibitive costs of education were identified as challenges associated with attaining further education. Lack of access to childcare had a higher impact on the ability of women to further their education. The cost of education for students who come to Canada on an international student visa is prohibitive, with fees over two times higher than fees for domestic students. Supports offered in educational institutions including educators, staff, and settlement workers were much appreciated by study participants. Recommendations are summarized in the following chart:

Watch for the full report which will be published at https://psinetwork.ca/

Spring 2022 Education News

Click image to access the animated copy of Education News.

In this issue:
A note from the Dean….. 3
Change maker: Tranforming schools and society….. 4
Alumna envisions schools as environments of empowerment….. 10
Why become a teacher? To be a role model….. 16
Alumnus positively influencing change….. 20
Le Bac student helping to preserve Indigenous languages….. 22
Teaching hard truths in a positive way: Kâsinamakewin….. 24
De/colonising Educational Relationships….. 29
Study informs services and supports for South Central Saskatchewan newcomers….. 30
Equity, diversity, and inclusion research partnership agreement announced….. 32
Successful defences….. 34
Funding and awards….. 35
Published research….. 36
New book….. 38
Long service recognition….. 38
New staff|New position….. 39
Student fundraising….. 40

Whisperings of the Land – Indigenous Science

The Whisperings of the Land Indigenous Speaker Series presents Wilfred Buck, a Cree astronomer and long-time educator, who will present on Ininiw Acakosuk (Cree Stars). Everyone is welcome to join us for this virtual event, 10:00 a.m., Monday, May 16, 2022.
 
Register in advance at to receive the Zoom link at https://events.eply.com/WhisperingsoftheLandSeriesWilfredBuck3366920

Immigrant Settlement and Community-Newcomer Integration in South Central Saskatchewan study

Congratulations to this group of researchers including #UREdu‘s Dr. Christine Massing and doctoral candidates Stephen Davis and Lucrécia Fuhrmann. The study “Immigrant Settlement and Community-Newcomer Integration in South Central Saskatchewan: A Local Data-Based Study” received $19, 982 from Prairie Skies Integration Network – Moose Jaw Region’s LIP.

Event: All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward with Tanya Talaga

Join us March 21, 2022 6:30 p.m. (CST) for a Zoom presentation by acclaimed Canadian storyteller, journalist, author, and CBC Massey lecturer Tanya Talaga!

Tanya Talaga, of Anishinaabe and Polish descent, is the author of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City.

Everyone is welcome!

Register for the event at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/tanya-talaga-all-our-relations-finding-the-path-forward-tickets-267708622697