News / Winnipeg

Manitoba schools ink promise to boost Indigenous education

A "blueprint" for indigenous education was signed Friday by representatives from all of Manitoba's public schools and post secondary institutions.

David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba and Anette Trimbee, President of the University of Winnipeg sign the "Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Educaiton Blueprint for Universities, Colleges and Public School Boards" on Friday, December 18.

Braeden Jones/ Metro

David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba and Anette Trimbee, President of the University of Winnipeg sign the "Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Educaiton Blueprint for Universities, Colleges and Public School Boards" on Friday, December 18.

The leaders of Manitoba’s public schools and post-secondary institutions put pen to paper Friday to support a blueprint for Indigenous education in the province.

President of the University of Manitoba David Barnard said the document "clearly identifies indigenous education as a priority."

The signees committed to advance reconciliation, bring Indigenous tradition into the curriculum, increase access to supports for Indigenous students and celebrate their successes, among several other adopted recommendations.

The new agreement was established in the wake of recommendations brought forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

Harry Bone, an elder of the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway Nation, said the blueprint honours "the original spirit" of past treaties.

Elder Harry Bone.

Elder Harry Bone.

"I see words like reconciliation, Indigenous education, intellectual traditions, and research in the languages of our people," he said, thanking the educators gathered for the blueprint "for the good of all people."

The ceremonial signing held at the University of Manitoba's Bald Eagle Lodge was co-emcee'd by Wab Kinew, the University of Winnipeg's associate vice-president of Indigenous affairs.

He said the day was a meaningful response to the "calls to action" heard earlier this week when the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was presented.

"We heard about the damages that were done to indigenous peoples, to first nations peoples, (and) also to Metis peoples through that era," he said, adding that the response from Manitoba's educational institutions sets "a different tone."

"In one generation in our communities, education has gone from being the tool of division, to now being the tool for reconciliation," he said. "For that I am immensely proud, and full of gratitude for all of these presidents and leaders in the education field."

Jenna Lynn McIver, a student at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, said she was pleased to see recognition for the need to increase access to support for indigenous students.

McIver, 28, shared her story of a false start in post-secondary education, having dropped out of a different program before following her passion in small engines in MITT's motosports program.

She said she was ill-prepared for the jump to post secondary, and celebrated the blueprint for ensuring "learning environments (will be) established that foster learner's success."

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