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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/.

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.

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. 

Hailey Prince at the Nak’azdli Cultural Centre

Hailey Prince details the Nak’azdli Cultural Centre’s aims and initiatives of capturing and maintaining Dakelh traditional knowledge through methods of traditional knowledge transfer from Elders. The centre offers programs and classes that are focused on strengthening areas of traditional Dakelh knowledge. Classes include teaching Dakelh language; drums, rattles, snowshoes, shawls, vests, baskets making; as well, […]

Hailey Prince details the Nak’azdli Cultural Centre’s aims and initiatives of capturing and maintaining Dakelh traditional knowledge through methods of traditional knowledge transfer from Elders. The centre offers programs and classes that are focused on strengthening areas of traditional Dakelh knowledge. Classes include teaching Dakelh language; drums, rattles, snowshoes, shawls, vests, baskets making; as well, learning traditional ways of hunting, trapping, and fishing. Among being a place of teaching and learning, the Cultural Centre is a support system to the community through ensuring all those in need are cared for. A food hamper program is an example Hailey describes as one way the centre ensures those in need are cared for. All donations given to the centre are offered to families in need. Traditional knowledge retention and community support are just some of the areas in which Hailey Prince views the Nak’azdli centre as an area of success in Indigenous education.

First Nations Technical Institute

First Nations owned and operated post-secondary education institution.

First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) is a First Nation owned and governed educational institute specializing in applying Indigenous knowledge to both formal and informal learning experiences. Many of our programs and services are delivered at locations across Ontario. For more than 30 years, FNTI has played an essential role in making post-secondary education relevant for Indigenous students and communities. We work closely with our partners to build unique, cutting-edge Indigenous learning experiences and environments.

Lizz Nootchtai – Land Based Healing

Land based healing models, teaching culture and Anishnawbek knowledge, worldview, ways of being, ceremony. This program is offered on demand, Lizz makes herself available because this is her role and responsibility.

Land based healing models, teaching culture and Anishnawbek knowledge, worldview, ways of being, ceremony. This program is offered on demand, Lizz makes herself available because this is her role and responsibility.

Mary Jane Fraser – Teaching Culture, History and Music: The Story Knowledge of Creation

To teach culture, history and music. To have access to what could be considered a privilege offered at the library, pow-wow grounds, school settings and at the band office, throughout the year. All community members can access the programs, in and around the City of Greater Sudbury. Mary also offers translation services as well. Mary […]

To teach culture, history and music. To have access to what could be considered a privilege offered at the library, pow-wow grounds, school settings and at the band office, throughout the year. All community members can access the programs, in and around the City of Greater Sudbury. Mary also offers translation services as well. Mary has a four year project offering story knowledge of Creation in partnership with Sudbury Symphony Proponent for Native content in libraries. Where there is a designated section.

Knowledge Keeper: Dr. Alannah Young Leon, Indigenous land-based education pedagogy -plants and foods as medicine

Alannah is Anishnabe Midekway and Nehiy/naw Cree from Treaty one and Treaty five territories, currently living in unceded Salish territories. In this video Alannah shares the importance of interconectness and wholism in education. She provides with clear and enlighting examples of working with medicine plants, intergenerational learning and following protocols.

Alannah is Anishnabe Midekway and Nehiy/naw Cree from Treaty one and Treaty five territories, currently living in unceded Salish territories. In this video Alannah shares the importance of interconectness and wholism in education. She provides with clear and enlighting examples of working with medicine plants, intergenerational learning and following protocols.