On March 2nd, 3rd and 4th, students from Allison Bernard Memorial High School visited several schools within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to teach other students about their culture, while at the same time, debunking the many myths and stereotypes that are often held about First Nations people. The event was coordinated by Brenda MacIssac, Literacy Consultant, in partnership with ABMHS and CBVRSB. With the assistance of their teachers Ron Martin and Rita Gould, they prepared several presentations and displays to share with and educate the students . They taught about Mi’kmaq dancing, waltes, basket making, the seven sacred teachings and so much more. The teachers and students in the schools were fascinated by our students and really appreciated the work that was put into this event. The knowledge and pride in their culture was evident. Great job!
It has been a very busy month at Maupeltuewey Kina’matno’kuom! Students have been keeping active through a variety of sports teams and other school activities.
Boys and girls basketball and hockey teams have their schedules filled until March as they participate in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School league. Anyone who is interested in checking out their games can access a schedule at the school.
The grade 3 students have been taking part in a survival swimming program at the Northside community pool. The program is part of their integrated curriculum and has been taking place through the entire month of January. “At first, some of the students were a little nervous about the pool but now they are all quite comfortable with it,” said Sharon Bernard, Principal. “I would say that the program has been a real success!”
The grade 6-7 class has been busy planning for their annual Ottawa trip. They are currently selling tickets on an autographed Sidney Crosby jersey. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a ticket can contact the school for more information.
February is also jam packed with events including an introduction to Lacrosse, Robotics, a Chinese new year celebration and a continuation of all the sporting events from January, with volleyball set to start soon.
The Holistic Assessment committee met this month to continue their work on the assessment development process. During their two day planning session, they discussed the possible name for the assessment, designs for the background, and characteristics and names of the characters.
An example of the website design and app was approved and is going to be developed over the coming months. Questions surrounding trouble shooting and support for parents and teachers were addressed. The next planning session will take place at the end of February.
A new initiative that just started this month is teacher visits a teacher. The first official visit took place on January 28 when Curtis Michael went to visit Kattirin Johnson, Grade 4 teacher at the Immersion school. The purpose of the visit is to provide an opportunity for Mi'kmaw Language teachers to visit other Mi'kmaw Language teachers within MK. Teachers are encouraged to share ideas and methods to engage oral language acquisition in the classroom. There will be more visits planned for February.
Strong Nations met this month as well. So far, 40 children books have been translated along with a Teacher Resource guide! A release of the materials and distribution will take place in March 2016.
On Saturday November 28th, the Mi’kmaw Sport Council of Nova Scotia presented the 9th annual Nova Scotia Aboriginal Sport Summit. Participants learned about “Lnu Kamakn” which is the the ski program, the MPAL program, Rugby and Lacrosse. They also heard about what is happening in sport in the community of Eskasoni.
The day concluded with the annual Sports Awards Banquet. This year’s winners are as follows:
Male Athlete of the year
Levi Denny Jr.
Female Athlete of the year
Male Coach of the year
Levi Denny Sr.
Female Coach of the year
Lifetime Achievement Award
Communities also had the opportunity to recognize their own athletes or coaches during the banquet. Eskasoni recognized Jeannine Denny and Tuma Bernard for their contribution to youth sport. Wagmatcook recognized Dante Isadore and Claudia Pierrard for their dedication to sport.
Over 80 students from across Nova Scotia attended the third annual Aboriginal Youth Trades fair in Halifax from November 11-13.
The activities began on Wednesday evening with a banquet where students listened attentively to Dr Don Julian, a veteran, speak about his career in the military and the importance of Remembrance Day.
On day two, students were separated into two groups. One group went to First Aid training with Jeff Ward while the other group went to the Trades Hall. The following day, they switched locations so that all students who attended the fair had the opportunity to become certified in First Aid and explore the trades.
During the evenings, students were entertained by going to the movies, shopping and doing cultural activities such as drum making, beading, and learning about the seven sacred teachings.
“Our Trades Fair was awesome,” said Ann Sylliboy, Post Secondary Consultant. “I look forward to next year!”
The trades fair was made possible through the help of many sponsors; The Province of Nova Scotia, Shell, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, the Friendship Centre, Native Council, METS, KMKNO, and the Construction Sector Council.
On November 13, 2015 in Calgary Alberta, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey was presented with the Indspire Indigenous Organization Award.
Indspire recognizes and celebrates educators for their achievement and innovation in Indigenous education. Each year a number of educators are recognized for their community service, innovative practice and leadership. This was the first year for the presentation of the Indigenous Organization Award.
The Indigenous Organization award is given to a whole school or Indigenous education organization that has developed models, strategies, and programs that have made an impact in the field of Indigenous education. These innovative leadership teams are creating school models, strategies and programs that are leading the way in the field of Indigenous education.
“This award is presented to the entire organization because everyone works together as a team to accomplish our goals,” said Eleanor Bernard, Executive Director of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. “Our graduation rate is almost 90%. We couldn't do that without the support of the education directors, principals and teachers.”
The award was presented during the Guiding the Journey gala as part of the National Gathering for Indigenous Education. This year, more than 500 people attended the annual conference, which focuses on closing the gap in Indigenous education through holistic education. The conference is an opportunity for educators to share knowledge and work on solutions to improving the academic outcomes of k-12 Indigenous students.
The conference featured several workshops on topics such as Urban Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Culture-Based Integrated Planning, Peer Support, and Effective School Leadership. Eleanor Bernard and Linda Simon also presented on Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey: Supporting Student Success. Their presentation will be uploaded to the Indspire website in the near future.
Congratulations to all!
On October 31 at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, Eleanor Catherine Bernard was presented with an Honorary Doctorate degree during Cape Breton University’s Fall convocation.
Eleanor Bernard has a long and distinguished career in Aboriginal Education, including lecturer, educator, vice-principal, and director at many levels of education. She has been Executive Director at Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) for the past 13 years and under her direction, MK is recognized as a national example for best practices in aboriginal education.
During her address to the graduating class, Bernard spoke of the important work being done at CBU through their customized programming and delivery to Mi’kmaw students and communities. She reflected on the collaborative efforts of CBU and the many Mi’kmaw leaders who came before her who helped make this programming such a success. She explained that it is her belief that “when we work hard, we can do a lot but when we work together, we can do much more”. She is a true example of what can be accomplished through hope and perseverance!
Congratulations Dr Eleanor Bernard!
On September 8th 2015, 14 students and 4 chaperones from the community of Eskasoni boarded a plane to the Dominican Republic to help build a home for a family.
The 12 day trip was facilitated through the organization Live Different.Live Different Builds, which was formerly known as Hero Holiday, gives volunteers from across Canada the opportunity to make a difference in the developing world as they build houses, schools, and complete other much needed projects. The program allows volunteers to see first-hand how two-thirds of the world lives, and gives them the opportunity to consider how they can build hope and change in their own lives.
“ The idea to work with Live Different first came up about three years ago but the commitment just wasn’t there ”, explained Newell Johnson, Principal at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni. “ This time, we began planning a community trip and a number of High School Students committed to the program. We sent in the deposit and there was no turning back!”
Students spent six months fundraising the amount required for the trip. They did not only need to fundraise for their travel and accommodations but also for the cost of the building materials for the house they would be building.
The students sold tickets on items, hosted a dinner theatre, an 80’s dance, a silent auction and a bake sale. They also catered several events in the community. “The community was extremely supportive,” said Johnson. “Donations came in for the silent auction from everyone once they knew what it was for.”
During their 12 day trip, the youth got up early every day and worked long days building the home. They also had the opportunity to spend a day in the life with a family. They helped prepare a meal and shared it with the family they were visiting that day. They cleaned up and helped with other chores that would normally be done each day in that household.
These experiences had such a huge impact on each and every one of the students. “This changed how I do things at home,” explained Jack Dennis. “There was an 84 year old woman who was always on her feet doing what needed to be done. Now I try to help my mom more with dishes and taking out the garbage. I never did that before.”
Most of the students expressed how seeing that level of poverty changed how they view their own lives. They came away with a much deeper appreciation for things they take for granted.
“When we were at the hotel we were complaining about having to pay for wifi,” explained Raven Stephens, grade 12 student. “Meanwhile we didn't even realize that most of these people don't even have a house, let alone wifi. A lot of these people have so little, and yet, they are so happy.”
The chaperones, Janean Marshall, Ronnie Martin, Terry Bernard and Newell Johnson, noticed huge changes in the students, especially those who had experienced loss before going. Many of the students had lost close relatives and important people in their lives over the year leading up to the trip. Some of them were almost at the point that they didn’t want to attend. As they spent time working with the family to build their home and met other youth from the area, they began to express joy for the first time in many months. It was described as if they “found their smile again.”
They also felt that this trip was an opportunity for the students to share their strengths. They noticed a huge boost in the confidence level of the group. The students believe in themselves now and have such a strong desire to make changes in their lives and communities.
“I want to change more lives and help more families”, said Camryn Sock, grade 11 student.
Her desire to change lives is shared by her peers as they plan to try to “educate others and encourage others to pay it forward”. They all want to continue the work of living differently even within their own community and family. They spoke about how they plan to make small changes to give back by volunteering more often and helping others who need it. This trip was life changing for all who attended.
With the stroke of a pen on Treaty Day in Halifax, a commitment was made by the province and the Mi’kmaq to ensure that all Nova Scotians will gain a greater understanding of our shared treaty relationship.
Elders, Chiefs, Mi’kmaq Grand Council members, provincial government representatives and many other Mi’kmaw community members were all on hand to witness the signing of what is known as the Treaty Education Nova Scotia Memorandum of Understanding.
This important new partnership will focus on the development of Treaty Education for students, teachers, public servants and the general public.
Chief Leroy Denny, Chair of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey declared, “Today we have begun to plant the seeds of justice and responsibility, so that future generations will understand our shared history and shared responsibility in Nova Scotia.”
Chief Denny would go on to say that Treaty Day 2015 signified the start of “a journey towards ensuring that Mi’kmaq Contributions will be highlighted and taught by all teachers, in all grades, in all schools.”
“We are all Treaty People”, acknowledged Premier Stephen McNeil to a large round of applause from the participants, many of whom recognized that this was the first Premier of Nova Scotia to make that statement.
Premier McNeil also stated, “Our government caucus will be the first to take you up on the opportunity to come into our caucus and actually educate us. Before we start with our children, let’s start with those of us who are privileged to be in leadership roles in this province.”
On hand for the announcement were Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Eleanor Bernard, Executive Director of MK, who’s conversations in early 2015 led to the creation of a Treaty Education Implementation Committee which hammered out the details of the MOU.
“We are very excited to be included in the changes made to the curriculum for Treaty Education”, said Bernard. “We are looking forward to being an important part of this process.”
As part of the MOU, the provincial mandate authorized the Treaty Education Implementation Committee (TEIC) to work over the next few months to create a work-plan. “Over the next few months there will be a lot of engagement with key knowledge holders to begin the process of reconciliation,” explained Jaime Battiste, Chair of the Treaty Education Implementation Committee and Treaty Education Lead for Nova Scotia. “ The TEIC have prioritized raising awareness, seeking direction and setting the working foundation for Treaty Education moving forward in Nova Scotia ”.
Many of the dignitaries on hand such as Grand Keptin Andrew Denny, and Chief Terry Paul, Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs, acknowledged in their speeches the historic impact that this signing meant to the Mi’kmaq moving forward.
Engagements are planned with Elders, Academics and the Mi’kmaq Grand Council in the coming months to lay the foundation for the development of Treaty Education resources. Treaty Education Nova Scotia Facebook has also been set up to share information, lectures, and any news on upcoming events involving Treaty Education.
“Keep jumping off rocks”, a quote from Elder Rose Morris from Gold River First Nations in Nova Scotia, was the motto for the Red Road youth this summer. It reminded them to disregard their fears, and to keep going through life courageously, just as if they were to jump off a huge rock and find themselves safe in a pool of water.
This Motto carried them through many exciting opportunities including the Stone Bear camp, powwows, film making, community events and summer games.
Stone Bear Camp
Hosted in Bear River First Nation, the Red Road Youth kicked off their summer at a camp for a week. “Words cannot simply explain what we experienced at the camp this year,” observed Tammy Bernard, Red Road Leader. “It was truly magical, and an honor to experience the youth getting together, and becoming a team right before our eyes.”
Frank Meuse lead the group a few times a day with a talking circle focussing on their journeys. Rose Morris (Gold River) taught the youth basket making, and Lu’lan Wells (Membertou) guided in the construction of a sweat lodge and conducted a ceremonial sweat with the youth.
Film Making with Cathy Martin
Cathy Martin began her activities with a talking circle. Although the group felt that they were very open to sharing with each other, they realized that they were quite closed off to their creative side. After many hours of exploring, the youth began to open up and some found a creative side that they had never realized they had!
The following day, the youth spent time planning, preparing and filming their videos which were based on the 7 Sacred Teachings. These videos will soon be available for viewing on the Red Road YouTube channel.
During the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games, Red Road youth set up a booth promoting the many activities that they are involved with. They had a sucker pull game for the children and other opportunities for prizes for those who visited the booth. They had a daily draw and also connected with the entertainers, one of which has made plans to work with the Red Road youth on future projects.
At the beginning of the summer, community supervisors and youth leaders brainstormed plans for activities that they would like to do within their own community. Each community was provided with $2000 to use toward cultural activities. One community brought together the leadership in the community and planned the activities as a group.