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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.

N’Swakamok Alternative School, N’Swakamok Friendship Centre (Sudbury)

The mission of the N’Swakamok Alternative School is to offer a wholistic and culturally inclusive educational program that meets the needs of urban Indigenous students.

Founded in 1990, N’Swakamok Alternative School is housed at the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in downtown Sudbury. The program is based on individualized, independent learning courses that students can complete at their own pace. The culturally-based program provides one-to-one tutoring, small and large group instruction with an integration of Indigenous content and traditional ways of teaching and learning. The mission of the N’Swakamok Alternative School is to offer a wholistic and culturally inclusive educational program that meets the needs of urban Indigenous students. The program coordinator, teachers and Friendship Centre staff support all students as they work toward their secondary, post-secondary, career and personal goals.

The N’Swakamok Alternative 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.nfcsudbury.org/nswakamok-alternative-school/.

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/.

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. 

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. 

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.

Art Petahtegoose – Thinking in Our Language and Our Role in Creation

An Elder, who is preparing Anishinaabe people to be responsible, knowledgeable about their culture, creation and to show us our own personal role in Creation.

An Elder, who is preparing Anishinaabe people to be responsible, knowledgeable about their culture, creation and to show us our own personal role in Creation.

Teresa McGregor – Anishnawbek Ways of Knowing

« Choices » is an alternative School and General Cultural Programming within Native Friendship Centre and Native Health centres. The goal of the program was to revitalize culture and incorporate Anishnawbek ways.

« Choices » is an alternative School and General Cultural Programming within Native Friendship Centre and Native Health centres. The goal of the program was to revitalize culture and incorporate Anishnawbek ways.

School of Trades and Technology – TRU

TRU offers a variety of programs develop and delivered with Indigenous people. The School of Trades & Technology hosts many degrees and programs including Building Capacity & Community Through Construction Trades and Waste & Wastewater Treatment certificates which demonstrates TRU’s ongoing commitment to Indigenous education through meaningful and responsive programming development and delivery.

TRU offers a variety of programs develop and delivered with Indigenous people. The School of Trades & Technology hosts many degrees and programs including Building Capacity & Community Through Construction Trades and Waste & Wastewater Treatment certificates which demonstrates TRU’s ongoing commitment to Indigenous education through meaningful and responsive programming development and delivery.

kâniyâsihk Culture Camps at Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation

Founder of kâniyâsihk Culture Camps, Kevin Lewis believes that land-based education is an important way for Cree and non-Indigenous people to (re)connect with culture and identity.

Within the last two decades, the kâniyâsihk Culture Camps at Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation have evolved from providing fall culture camps where participants took part in fishing and hide tanning to offering camps throughout all seasons and to anyone who wants to learn nehiyo (Cree) culture. Founder, Kevin Lewis explains that at kâniyâsihk Culture Camps participants take part in land-based learning that involves connecting with Elders, knowledge keepers, land keepers, medicine keepers, and berry pickers in their community. By sharing this wealth of knowledge with participants they begin to learn how to be self-sufficient and independent. Some of the many things done at camp include: learning Cree; harvesting plants for medicines; fishing and snaring; hide tanning; preserving moose, deer, elk, and fish; woodworking and building dog sleds, toboggans, birch bark canoes, snowshoes, and paddles; dog sledding; and participating in the Sun Dance, Sweat Lodge, and Chicken Dance ceremonies. The camp offers an immersive experience in nehiyo culture and Lewis hopes that more culture camps become available to people, especially for those living in urban areas.

Click here for more information about kâniyâsihk Culture Camps.