Category: SUNTEP

YNTEP Visits the Faculty of Education and SUNTEP

From November 24 to 26, Yukon Native Teacher Education Program (YNTEP) representatives visited the University of Regina campus to discuss plans for renewed education programming and a new community-based Elementary Education After Degree Program offered in partnership with the University of Regina.

Tina Jules (Coordinator/Faculty Advisor) and Mark Connell (YNTEP Faculty Advisor) met with Dr. Val Mulholland (Associate Dean, Student Services and Undergraduate Programs, Faculty of Education) and Student Program Centre (SPC) staff, Nicole Glas (SPC Manager), Carol Shi (Assistant to the Associate Dean) and Wendy Campbell (Program Assistant – TEP Programs / Timetable); Dean Jennifer Tupper; Dr. Shauneen Pete (Executive Lead, Indigenization); and Dr. Xia Ji (Director of Field Experiences and Professional Development) as well as Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) Janice Thompson (Coordinator), to iron out details for the new and renewed programs.

With a full schedule, Tina and Mark also met with Dr. Angelina Weenie (First Nations University), Dr. Michael Cappello (ECS Courses), and attended JFEC. (Joint Field Experience Committee – comprised of the stakeholders, including southern SK school divisions, Ministry, SUNTEP, STF, Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board, Faculty of Education. JFEC meets semi-annually to review and to consult on policy governing field experiences in teacher education.)

They took in the sites at Lebret, SK with SUNTEP Faculty, and enjoyed the screening of the film, The Pass System, at the University of Regina, which YNTEP hopes to bring to the Yukon in February.

Though much was accomplished in terms of programming through the visit, in her farewell speech, Tina Jules spoke of the value of the relationships that have been formed as a result of the collaboration.

Photo Above (L-R): Back row: Xia Ji (Fac of Ed), Shauneen Pete (Fac of Ed/Indigenization), Tina Jules (YNTEP), Janice Thompson (SUNTEP), Kristina Lee (Fac of Ed), Wendy Campbell (Fac of Ed), Russell Fayant (SUNTEP), Mark Connell (YNTEP); Front row: Carol Shi (Fac of Ed), Nicole Glas (Fac of Ed), January Hutchison (Fac of Ed), Rechel Leonard (Fac of Ed), Dean Jennifer Tupper (Fac of Ed), Tamela Friesen (Fac of Ed), and Val Mulholland (Fac of Ed).


SUNTEP Students Present on TRC Recommendations

As part of their course work for ECCU 300 – Cross Cultural Teaching Strategies, with instructor Brenna Pacholko, SUNTEP students Rebecca Wiens and Lesley Hanson presented “TRC Recommendations: Indigenization Within Education” today in the Aboriginal Student Centre at the University of Regina.

Wiens grew up in a predominantly White town, where she did not learn about her Métis heritage and Hanson is from Sakimay First Nations, but was born and raised in Moose Jaw, and is closely acquainted with Indian Residential School (IRS) impacts, with a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother all having spent time in residential school. “If I was born fifty years earlier, it could have been me,” she says.

The two presenters outlined the work that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is doing, what the focus will be (truth AND reconciliation), and why it is important to Canadians, receiving feedback from the group about why it is important “to me.”  Hanson shared that even though she didn’t attend a residential school, she still feels the impacts of the IRS:  “The impact of residential school whether alcoholism, depression, or mental illness…hits home with me and my family.” Impacts are intergenerational, as survivors attempt to cope with their residential school experiences. A participant pointed out that so often people think that the impacts are only felt by Aboriginal people, but non-Aboriginal people are also impacted, whether they know it or not.

Hanson and Wiens then showed an excerpt from the TED talk given by Starleigh Grass:

Starleigh encourages listeners to follow two hashtags on Twitter: #myreconciliation and #readthetrc

From the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action for Education and Reconciliation, Hanson and Wiens read Recommendations 62, 63, 64, and 65:

62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:

i. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.

ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

iii. Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.

iv. Establish senior-level positions in government at the
assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to

63. Aboriginal content in education.63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:

i. Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.

ii. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.

iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

iv. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

64. We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to require such schools to provide an education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal Elders.

65. We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions, and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

Dr. Michael Cappello offers a White settler perspective on the TRC Recommendations
Dr. Michael Cappello offers a White settler perspective on the TRC Recommendations

Then, Dr. Michael Cappello, guest speaker, offered a White settler perspective on the importance of the TRC Recommendations.  Cappello says, “There are lots of ways our histories interweave: Stories are far beyond ‘us and them,’ and there are lots of reasons to take the TRC recommendations seriously.”

Cappello points out that the role of non-Aboriginal people is at the very least the role of witness: to attend, to serve, to witness, and to be present. Further, it is important that non-Aboriginal people educate themselves. “Everything that I know about racism comes from marginalized groups,” says Cappello.  He does not think the burden of educating White settlers should be placed on Aboriginal peoples. At most, the White settler’s role is as a junior partner: “Our job is to listen and to respond, ‘Ok, here is Recommendation # 62; how should we do that?…’ White settler’s are not the leaders in this TRC project. I know my role, to legitimize, and I should be committed to doing,” he says.

“It is my place to honor Indigenous cultures, but not my place to teach Indigenous culture,” Cappello says. “Learning is not something that is completed by taking a course; it is a life’s work.” Cappello mentions Dr. Shauneen Pete’s 100 Ways to Indigenize and Decolonize Academic Programs and Courses as a resource. What Cappello focuses on in his teaching is confronting racism. “This is also a life long work, unlearning the racism that I grew up with,” he says. Cappello handed out a copy of what the Faculty of Education, University of Regina is doing to respond to the TRC recommendations.

Cappello emphasized the need to read the TRC. “If you are bored of reading on white paper, then listen to the TRC, which has been recorded on Youtube with Indigenous people reading the TRC in 8-minute segments.” (The first one is embedded below.)

In the final part of the presentation, Hanson and Wiens discuss the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) and mission, and how their classroom is indigenized, set up in a circle around the medicine wheel, along with Métis symbols in the classroom such as the Métis flag, Louis Riel, the Red River Cart, the Métis sash, and Michif language. Their program includes building relationships with each other, faculty, staff and elders; Indigenous perspectives; opportunities for learning Michif; and jigging. Though not directly stated, it is clear that the SUNTEP program is uniquely positioned in that it is already modeling the TRC Recommendations.

The presenters ended the presentation with a final question about the value of SUNTEP. Russell Fayant, a SUNTEP instructor, noted that along with the other suggestions (good foundation for teachers, educating next generation about their culture, and a way to decolonize), “SUNTEP has helped to produce a Métis middle class and activism is a privilege of the middle class.”


SUNTEP Students Offer Workshop: “Schools: Past, Present, and Future…”

IMG_5602SUNTEP students Alicia Reiss and Daylyn Benoit presented a workshop entitled “Schools: Past, Present, and Future: Reflecting on Colonial History of the Past, Assessing our Current Education System, and Determining Strategies for Decolonization” on Tuesday, October 27. They began the presentation reflecting on their own experiences of negative stereotyping and essentialization in the education system, which prevented them from fully embracing their rich heritage and cultural identities as First Nation and Métis people.

After their reflections, Alicia and Daylyn conducted a workshop that gave participants the opportunity to post a card with aspects of either  “Culturally Relevant” or “Critical Anti-Racist” education on their respective squares on the wall. This activity was presented to Alicia and Daylyn this past Friday at the SAFE conference in Saskatoon by Dr. Verna St. Denis (U of S) and Dr. Carol Schick (U of R). It helped participants identify the difference between cultural relevance in curriculum and strategies for addressing power inequities in the classroom.  The bottom squares of the wall were actions and excuses of non-Indigenous peoples that allow them to forgo responsibility for teaching about Indigenous history and culture, and addressing harmful stereotypes and power inequities. Alicia emphasized the importance of being “willing to learn and unlearn together,” to unpack the sometimes subtle and not-so-subtle forms of racism in education.

Their presentation was peppered with quotes from bell hooks, Verna St. Denis, and Peggy McIntosh. The students also stressed that Indigenous education should not be optional, but should be as much a part of the curriculum as math is. Alicia and Daylyn offered options for decolonizing teaching, such as the Blanket Exercise and an image of the Métis Two Row Wampum (click through photos below to see a Wampum), which is art that follows two parallel lines that complement each other, while remaining separate. Alicia noted that the Faculty of Education is currently producing a Blanket Exercise contextualized for Treaty 4 territory, which she feels will be beneficial to the communities that live here.

SUNTEP Students Offer Workshop


SUNTEP 2015 graduation celebration

Photos credit: Jennifer Reid-Vandevord and Brenna Pacholko

Kahkeeyow Kee Weechihinaan Zeusk Oma Ka Tawko shiahk – Sharing in our Learning Journey

The SUNTEP faculty, alumni, Elders, and guests gathered on Friday May 8, 2015 to honor and celebrate the 2015 SUNTEP graduates: Samuel Fayant, Cassandra Fisher, Samantha Gold, Sydney Lemieux, Victoria Parisian, and Mariah Rope. The evening, hosted at the Delta Regina, included entertainment provided by the Seven Stone Steppers elementary school jigging club accompanied by fiddler, Nathan Baker. Preceding the evening program, First Nations drumming group, Napewsak, sang an honour song for the graduates. The students were also honoured with a Métis sash in recognition of their accomplishment. The keynote address was given by Brenna Pacholko and awards were presented by community Métis knowledge keepers Joe Welsh, Erma Taylor, an Amyotte family representative, Jackie Litke, SUNTEP Executive Director Geordy McCaffery, and SUNTEP Regina Coordinator Janice R. Thompson. Cassandra Fisher was honoured with a star blanket for the Spirit of SUNTEP award in recognition of her commitment to leadership and volunteerism within the community. Victoria Parisian was awarded the David Amyotte Memorial scholarship to recognize her commitment to Indigenous education. Samuel Fayant was awarded the Lebret Métis Cultural Days Scholarship to recognize his family and historical ties to the Lebret community as a valuable link to his knowledge of Métis culture through education. SUNTEP is proud of each of the 2015 graduates for their accomplishments thus far and wishes them the best in their future endeavours.

By Brenna Pacholko

SUNTEP Students Indigenizing Curriculum: Moving Beyond Beads, Bannock, and Buckskin

The Saskatchewan Curriculum is packed with many opportunities to authentically integrate purposeful First Nations, Métis, and Inuit content and perspectives. On February 19 and 20, three 2nd-year students and one faculty from Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP–Regina) had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2015 WestCAST conference in Saskatoon.

Often as teachers, we are uncomfortable or unaware of how to integrate First Nations, Métis, and Inuit content beyond the stereotypical and historical topics. As much as the intentions are good, sometimes we further build stereotypes unknowingly.

Throughout the workshop, we provided hands-on opportunity for participants to work with their outcomes, and in small, common-graded groups to indigenize each subject.

As preservice teachers, each facilitator had examined the Kindergarten to Grade 8 cross curricular outcomes. We indigenized outcomes by going beyond the stereotypical beads, bannock, and buckskin.

The workshop was done collaboratively with the participants as we guided and helped provide the tools to reduce racism and bring awareness to others in the education field. Each participant walked away with indigenized cross curricular outcomes and the ability to introduce indigenization as a professional development opportunity for their workplaces.

The WestCAST theme was “Engage. Empower. Inspire.” Accordingly, during this time, we worked together to build a strong, purposeful, indigenized curriculum.

By Jennifer Reid-Vandevord, SUNTEP Faculty