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United Native Friendship Centre Alternative Secondary School Program (Fort Frances)

The Alternative Secondary School Program (ASSP) addresses the needs of urban Indigenous students in Fort Frances and surrounding areas by creating a culture-based educational environment where the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual areas of a student’s life are centered.

Founded in 2004, the Alternative Secondary School Program (ASSP) in Fort Frances is the culmination of a partnership between United Native Friendship Centre, Fort Frances High School and the Rainy River District School Board. The ASSP addresses the needs of urban Indigenous students in Fort Frances and the surrounding areas by creating a culture-based educational environment where the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual areas of a student’s life are centered. Through the program, students are empowered to become active members in the community and obtain an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The program is based on individual, independent learning courses that students can complete at their own pace and offers additional tutoring. Cultural teachings, Indigenous language, and wholistic learning approaches are integrated in the curriculum to prepare urban Indigenous students for workplace readiness, skills development and training, or transition to mainstream high school or post-secondary education institutions. The program addresses food insecurity and student nutritional needs by providing a lunch program to enrolled students. Cultural programming is made possible through collaboration with Friendship Centre staff such as the Cultural Resource Coordinator, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers.

The ASSP at United Native Friendship Centre is part of an Ontario-wide network of 11 Alternative Secondary Schools supported by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC). The OFIFC is the largest urban Indigenous service network supporting the vibrant, diverse, and quickly-growing urban Indigenous population through programs and initiatives that span justice, health, family support, long-term care, healing and wellness, employment and training, education, and research. The OFIFC represents the collective interests and vision of its 29-member Friendship Centres, which are hubs of community and gathering spaces where people can connect to their culture, access services and programs and build community.

The vision of the Friendship Centre movement is to improve the quality of life for Indigenous people living in urban environments. Education has always been an integral part of this vision, as access to culturally-safe learning opportunities that center learners’ needs and gifts is key for the wellbeing of urban Indigenous people. The Alternative Secondary School Program was first piloted in 1990, as Friendship Centre communities organized to meet the needs of students and their families, in response to major gaps in mainstream schooling that included lack of safe, culture-based, wholistic education available to Indigenous learners. The program is realized through a partnership between Friendship Centres and their local District School Board, supported by a long-standing relationship between the Ontario Ministry of Education and the OFIFC. As a program dedicated to offering personalized support to Indigenous students within a setting that combines community and academic support, the ASSP reflects Indigenous student needs and delivers education tailored to Indigenous students in an Indigenous environment.

To learn more about this program, please visit https://ofifc.org/program/alternative-secondary-school-program/ and https://unfc.org/alternative-secondary-school-program.

Wiingashk Alternative Secondary School, N’Amerind Friendship Centre (London)

Wiingashk Alternative Secondary School is located at N’Amerind Friendship Centre in London. This program offers urban Indigenous students a culture-based education that balances the secondary school curriculum with wholistic, culturally relevant educational approaches.

Wiingashk offers opportunities to learn life skills and Indigenous cultural teachings and is designed to help encourage Indigenous students to continue their self-voiced educational goals. The program coordinator and teachers work collaboratively with Friendship Centre staff, specifically Indigenous counsellors and mental health supports, to assist students with their overall well-being, personal goals, and life challenges. 

The Wiingashk Alternative Secondary School is part of an Ontario-wide network of 11 Alternative Secondary Schools supported by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC). The OFIFC is the largest urban Indigenous service network supporting the vibrant, diverse, and quickly-growing urban Indigenous population through programs and initiatives that span justice, health, family support, long-term care, healing and wellness, employment and training, education, and research. The OFIFC represents the collective interests and vision of its 29-member Friendship Centres, which are hubs of community and gathering spaces where people can connect to their culture, access services and programs and build community.

The vision of the Friendship Centre movement is to improve the quality of life for Indigenous people living in urban environments. Education has always been an integral part of this vision, as access to culturally-safe learning opportunities that center learners’ needs and gifts is key for the wellbeing of urban Indigenous people. The Alternative Secondary School Program was first piloted in 1990, as Friendship Centre communities organized to meet the needs of students and their families, in response to major gaps in mainstream schooling that included lack of safe, culture-based, wholistic education available to Indigenous learners. The program is realized through a partnership between Friendship Centres and their local District School Board, supported by a long-standing relationship between the Ontario Ministry of Education and the OFIFC. As a program dedicated to offering personalized support to Indigenous students within a setting that combines community and academic support, the ASSP reflects Indigenous student needs and delivers education tailored to Indigenous students in an Indigenous environment.

To learn more about this program, please visit https://ofifc.org/program/alternative-secondary-school-program/  and http://www.namerind.on.ca/.

What is Possible in Community? Reflecting on Harvest Days at Sturgeon Lake First Nation

Elder Willie Ermine from Sturgeon Lake First Nation shares about the process of community development and how possibilities like Harvest Days come to fruition in his community.

Elder and ceremonialist, Willie Ermine, from Sturgeon Lake First Nation is the Traditional Health Coordinator at the Lloyd Johnson Memorial Healing Lodge. It is through the Elder’s Council and the work of the Healing Lodge that brings Sturgeon Lake community members together. Ermine discusses the history of his community and shares about the uniqueness of community members. The people are special and it is with the gifts of the people that will determine what is possible. By extracting the memory of the community he hopes that community members will see themselves in the history and will find strength in that knowledge.

Case Study: Sturgeon Lake Traditional Health Program

 

Harvest Days at Sturgeon Lake First Nation

Sturgeon Lake First Nation community members reflecting on Harvest Days during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harvest Days is an example of what is possible – community members came together at the Healing Lodge, over the course of a week, and between young and old, they hunted, fished, picked berries, processed food, prepared medicines and drank pandemic immunity. Their efforts to support their community during a pandemic and their commitment to teaching the youth about land-based learning, community, and traditional health is shown in their food security preparations.

*Disclaimer: this video deals wth the processing of deer, moose, and fish for preservation and has graphic content. 

Taking Responsibility – Preserving and Teaching the Nakoda Language

In this mini language lesson, Armand McArthur shares the Nakoda language.

The late Elder Armand McArthur was a Nakoda man from Siyónide Nakóna Oyáde (Pheasant Rump First Nation). He was an instructor, both in his community and at First Nations University, specializing in teaching the Nakoda language. Using English alphabet symbols he teaches audience members how to pronounce sounds and words.

Table ronde sur l’intégration des savoirs autochtones à l’Académie, avec des aînés et des enseignants à l’Université Trent

Cette vidéo est celle d’une table ronde réunissant des aînés et des enseignants autochtones, qui s’est tenue à l’Université Trent le 23 novembre 2018. Le sujet de la table ronde était l’intégration des savoirs autochtones à l’Académie. Les panélistes ont reconnu que des changements positifs importants ont été apportés à l’Université Trent, comme le nouveau […]

Cette vidéo est celle d’une table ronde réunissant des aînés et des enseignants autochtones, qui s’est tenue à l’Université Trent le 23 novembre 2018. Le sujet de la table ronde était l’intégration des savoirs autochtones à l’Académie. Les panélistes ont reconnu que des changements positifs importants ont été apportés à l’Université Trent, comme le nouveau demi-crédit obligatoire en études autochtones pour tous les étudiants, et l’intégration continue des savoirs autochtones dans le programme de doctorat en études autochtones. Il a également été entendu qu’il faut en faire plus. Parmi les questions soulevées figurent l’intégration d’un plus grand nombre de savoirs autochtones dans l’ensemble de l’université, ce qui inclut un apprentissage ancré davantage sur le territoire, l’utilisation de noms autochtones pour les lieux et les bâtiments, et un soutien financier plus important pour faire venir des aînés autochtones pour enseigner à l’université.

Les participants à la table ronde étaient :

  • Doug Williams (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg), aîné, directeur des études autochtones, programme de doctorat, Université Trent
  • Barbra Wall (Potawatomi), faculté des études autochtones, Université Trent
  • Dawn Lavell-Harvard, (Odawa), directrice de la « Maison du savoir » des Premiers Peuples, Université Trent
  • Coty Zachariah, (Haudenosaunee), animateur de la table ronde, étudiant à l’Université Trent

Notre gratitude aux Aye Min Latt, Réalisation vidéo.

 

Cette vidéo est offerte en anglais seulement. 

Table ronde sur le vécu des étudiants autochtones dans leurs études postsecondaires

Une table ronde à laquelle ont participé cinq étudiants autochtones s’est tenue à l’Université Trent pour discuter de leurs expériences dans leurs études postsecondaires. Les étudiants ont donné leur avis sur les difficultés rencontrées par les jeunes autochtones pour accéder à l’université et travailler au sein du système d’enseignement postsecondaire. Parmi les thèmes qui ont […]

Une table ronde à laquelle ont participé cinq étudiants autochtones s’est tenue à l’Université Trent pour discuter de leurs expériences dans leurs études postsecondaires. Les étudiants ont donné leur avis sur les difficultés rencontrées par les jeunes autochtones pour accéder à l’université et travailler au sein du système d’enseignement postsecondaire. Parmi les thèmes qui ont émergé de la discussion, citons les difficultés à choisir une discipline, les défis liés à l’admission aux études postsecondaires, l’importance d’un mentor et d’un soutien dans le cadre universitaire, et l’importance de l’apprentissage de la culture et du renforcement de l’identité au cours de leurs études postsecondaires.

Les participants à la table ronde étaient :

• Bobby Henry, Haudenosaunee
• Papatsi Kotierk, Inuit
• Thomas Morningstar, Anishinaabeg
• Amy Shawanda , Anishiaabeg
• Coty Zachariah, Haudenosaunee
• Gabriel Maracle, Haudenosaunee (Animateur)

Notre gratitude aux Aye Min Latt, Réalisation vidéo.

 

Cette vidéo est offerte en anglais seulement. 

Cree Language Revitalization and Reclamation

Revitalizing the Cree language, one experience at a time.

Cree scholar, Belinda Daniels, began her nēhiyawēwin language journey so that her children would be able to speak Cree and communicate with their grandparents. She believed that if she wants this for her children then there must be many others who want this for their children too. On her journey of learning Cree and finding Cree language teaching methods she decided to create the nêhiyawak Summer Language Experience. Daniels’ education, both from Western institutions and teachings from her community have prepared her for this life’s work. She hopes that when people learn the Cree language they will understand how the language comes from the land and that the language is connected to life in this place.

Resources:

  • Herman, C., Daniels, B., Lewis, K., & Koole, M. (in review). Awakening sleeping languages in Saskatchewan with culturally appropriate curricula and technology. In H. Crompton and J. Traxler (Eds.) Critical Mobile Pedagogy: Cases of Inclusion, Development, and Empowerment. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Daniels, B., & Sterzuk, A, Turner, P., Cook, W., Thunder, D., & Morin, R. (in press). e ka pimohteyahk nikanehk ote nikan: nehiyawewin (cree language): Revitalization and Indigenous knowledge (re) generation – An ethics of southern research. In K. Heugh, C. Stround, P. De Costa & K. Taylor-Leech (Eds.). A sociolinguists of the South. Routledge

The Story of wesakecāk and sihkos

This is the story of how the weasel was able to change the colour of its pelt.

Simon Bird is the Director of Education for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and he shares his wealth of knowledge teaching Cree. At the Regina Elders Gathering held in February 2020, Bird encouraged audience members to engage in his Cree Bingo game. During the game he teaches Cree words and will often tell stories. This time, Bird shared the story of how the weasel’s pelt changes colour in different seasons.

Empowering Young Men – The Warrior’s Club at Sturgeon Lake Central School

The Warrior’s Club is a land-based education group that meets bi-monthly to learn experientially about the land. 

Tanya McCallum, is one of the land-based instructors at Sturgeon Lake Central School who help leads a Warrior’s Club for Indigenous male youth ages 11-15, she along with Lionel McKenzie. The Warrior’s Club educates youth and encourages them to develop a relationship with the land. Between the skills that they develop and the connections they make, the activities they engage in are meant to empower the next generation of men. The Club meets twice a month and engages in the following activities: camping, snaring, harvesting deadfall from the bush and chopping the wood, fire keeping, fishing, ice fishing, kayaking, canoeing, history lessons, and Cree language instruction.

Recently, the boys received chainsaw and axe safety lessons prior to using the equipment. After that, they were able to harvest the deadfall from the bush, chop the wood, and deliver the chopped wood to Elders and families in the community who were struggling financially. The boys are eager to provide this service to their community and the community members value the youth for their efforts. 

This program has been made possible since 2017 due to the collaboration between Belinda Daniels and her uncle Velmer Ermine, who write up the grants and reports for and through Jordan’s Principle. This is a community collaboration, a ‘grassroots’ initiative between all who all support the program and the youth involved, and a special gratitude to the numerous guest speakers who enrich this program throughout all of the years.