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Attention Schools and Youth-Serving Groups!

Celebrate Winter Walk Day in your community! Winter is as good a time as any to walk. Schools, youth groups and others are invited to walk to school, have an intentional walk or go for a hike on Winter Walk Day. Don’t let cold, wind, snow or rain keep children and youth from heading out for a walk. If they dress properly and practice winter safety, they’re ready to go! Walking is fun when you walk together. The extra physical activity is good for our bodies. It’s good for the Earth if you walk as transportation because it cuts down on the number of polluting cars on our streets.

Be sure to do your part on Winter Walk Day, and everyday for that matter. If you are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of your home or business, please ensure you do so as soon as possible after a snow fall or freezing rain.

Winter Walk Day is a partnership of Take the Roof Off Winter, the Ecology Action Centre and the Heart&Stroke Walkabout. Take The Roof Off Winter is a winter active campaign coordinated by Recreation Nova Scotia designed to help Nova Scotians of all ages improve their health and quality of life by being outdoors and active this winter.

Register and download Winter Walk Day resources at http://saferoutesns.ca/programs/winter-walk-day

Learn more about Take The Roof Off Winter at www.taketheroofoffwinter.ca. 

As students settle into the new school year, the Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) is hoping to inspire junior high and high schools to get creative – and win big.

MANS announced the launch of the “Mining ROCKS! Video Contest”.  The contest, which is open to all junior high and high school students in Nova Scotia, encourages kids to produce short videos about mining and quarrying.  The winners in four different categories will be awarded $1500, with $500 going to their school.

“The videos can be about virtually any aspect of mining and quarrying, including its economic importance, environment and reclamation, historical facts and beneficial end-uses of mining products,” said Sean Kirby, Executive Director.  “And we encourage students to have fun with it – to be creative and make their video stand out from the crowd.”

“I am very pleased to be a judge for the video contest and to work in partnership with the mining association on educating students about the industry,” said Membertou Chief Terry Paul.  “We all want to create more opportunities and a brighter future for our children, and the video contest is a good way to teach them about mining.”

Students will upload their video to the MANS website and a panel of judges, who are mainly independent of the industry, will pick the winners for the Best Junior High School Video, Best High School Video and Best 30-Second Commercial.  The fourth category, the CIM Foundation People’s Choice winner, will be decided by the public through an online vote. 

The judging panel includes Zach Churchill, Minister of Natural Resources, Membertou Chief Terry Paul, Cecil Clarke, Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Anne Loi, Senior Vice President, DHX Media, Stephen Cooke, Chronicle Herald arts reporter, Jeff Parker, Viewfinders Manager, Atlantic Film Festival, Michael Amo, Screenwriter and creator of CTV’s “The Listener”, Stephen Melanson, Instructor, Radio and Television Arts Department, NSCC, Iain MacLeod, Marking Consultant, Pat Mills, Mining Association Past President

The contest will award over $9000 in prizes in its first year.  All prize money given to schools comes with no strings attached and can be spent on each school’s priorities.

The deadline for video entries is February 20, 2015.

To watch the movie trailer for the Mining ROCKS! Video Contest, go to http://notyourgrandfathersmining.ca/contest-trailer

 

For more information, go to http://notyourgrandfathersmining.ca/contest

The Mi’kmaq Project for Innovation and Collaboration (MPIC), under the direction of The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, developed the “Finding Your Inspiration” (FYI) program. 

FYI encourages youth from grades nine to twelve to become career minded prior to applying to and attending post secondary institutions. The Program provides education through skill building workshops, exposure to training institutions through post secondary visits, and work experience through on the job training. 

FYI was first administered in Pictou Landing last year, and this year was rolled out in Potlotek and Paqtnkek. Through engagement of youth in a classroom setting surrounded by their peers, FYI invoked discussions and thought processes in youth so they can begin thinking about what their future career may be. 

FYI assessed the youth’s employability skills (resume writing, job searching, interview skills) and matched them with careers that were of interest to them. At the end of the program, the youth had a greater skill set and knowledge base which will better prepare them in the transition from secondary to post secondary education. 

For more information about FYI, contact Ann Sylliboy at ann@kinu.ca. 

On November 17, 18 and 19, Mi’kmaw youth from all across Nova Scotia attended the second annual Nova Scotia Aboriginal Youth Skilled Trades Fair at the Comfort Inn in Halifax. Over three days, students explored skilled trades and learned about their apprenticeship processes, funding, education and training opportunities.

Students were separated into two groups with each group spending a day exploring the experiential skilled trades booths and a day taking their First Aid Certification. At the trades booths students spoke one-on-one with skilled tradespeople working in their respective fields. They learned about a typical workday on-the-job, and the necessary education and work experience required to build a career. 

Robert Labradore, a student from Glooscap First Nation, said he couldn’t wait to recommend this training opportunity to students in his community. 

“I’d tell them that if they want to make a difference in their career – do it! If you think you can’t do anything with your life without your grade 12, you’re wrong. This is another option to start a career.”  

Donnie Richards, a teacher and chaperone from TEC in Eskasoni, was very impressed with the experience.

“The kids had a great opportunity by coming here. They get to experience the trades first hand. It’s an experience they can’t get from reading about in a book.” 

The event was made possible with the help of ENCANA, the Nova Scotia Assembly of Chiefs, Nova Scotia Department of Education, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Native Council of Nova Scotia, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and its schools, Mi’kmaq Project for Innovation and Collaboration, and Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office of Nova Scotia.

The 9th Annual AFOA-PotashCorp Aboriginal Youth Financial Management Awards are open to Aboriginal youth in grades 11 and 12 across Canada.

3 Winners will be selected to travel to Winnipeg, MB for 4 days to attend the AFOA Canada National Conference on February 17-19, 2015 and to participate in a special Youth program designed to introduce them to careers in Aboriginal finance and management.

In addition, winners are eligible to receive:

A 5 year scholarship package valued at over $5000

 

Eligibility Criteria:

Aboriginal Ancestry (Proof of First Nation, Inuit or Métis status)

Pursuing post-secondary education and demonstrates an interest and is considering a career in the areas of finance and/or management/commerce (including financial management/planning, business administration, commerce, accounting and economics)

Completed Application Form and submit an essay

2 letters of recommendation from a teacher, guidance counsellor or educator, attesting to the student's performance and commitment

Academically successful

Students in Grades 11 and/or 12 may apply (maximum age 19)

 

How to Apply:

There are 3 ways to submit your application form and letters of recommendation.

Email: youthawards@afoa.ca

Fax: (613)-722-3467

Mail:

AFOA Canada Youth Awards Program

Suite 301-1066 Somerset St. West-

Ottawa, ON K1Y 4T3

DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 1, 2014 at 9PM EST

For more details on this award and the application process, please read the Fact sheet, visit the AFOA website, call 1-866-722-2362 or email youthawards@afoa.ca.

 

Congratulations to Angelo Spinazzola and Eskasoni youth on winning Aboriginal Artist of the Year for the First Nations Songwriting Sessions at the 2014 Music Nova Scotia Awards! 

Download the album on iTunes here: http://bit.ly/1yqI1SJ

For the past two months, teachers from MK schools have been participating in training that will help equip them to teach yoga in their schools. The Program “Yoga In Schools” was created by Jenny Kierstead and Blair Abbass of Breathing Space Yoga Studios, and is the first yoga teacher program in North America to be implemented into the public school system as a credit course. Hundreds of teachers are now trained in such programs as Yoga for Autism, Yoga for Special Needs, etc. and offer them in schools across Atlantic Canada. 

During her 10 years of teaching Phys. Ed, Jenny noticed that the needs of youth exceeded their existing course offerings. She noticed students were hungry for true connection, non-competitive movement activity, and stress management tools. Janean Marshall, Students Services Coordinator at MK, has spearheaded the integration of this program into MK schools, and says she wanted to bring yoga to classrooms because it’s important to teach students self-regulation strategies. 

“Our classrooms are busy places with lots of needs, and to return to something so fundamental as breathing and stretching is essential,” said Marshall. “Incorporating learning opportunities in the classroom where students are learning while moving improves students’ total well-being while decreasing challenging behaviours.”

The Yoga in Schools program includes Yoga (grade) 11, Yoga 11 Lesson Plans, Yoga (grade) 12, Yoga for Autism, Yoga for Special Needs and Elementary and Secondary Yoga Posters through Thompson Publications Inc. Teachers who have completed this PD are reporting that their teaching careers have been transformed, giving them a renewed sense of purpose and a whole new level of connection with their students. Outside of the school environment, their personal lives are also being deeply enriched by these powerful teachings. 

Youth have reported new levels of inner peace, personal connection, and self empowerment. Students are quitting smoking, breathing more deeply, sleeping better, and applying their skills to exam anxiety. With a new desire to treat their bodies with more care, many are proudly making healthier lifestyle choices, like eliminating consumption of junk food. They are also experiencing the benefits of unplugging from technology daily to spend time with others or immersed in nature. If that wasn't enough, teachers and support staff are noticing the entire culture of their schools are changing, as students demonstrate an interest in communicating more compassionately and respectfully with their peers and families.

“It’s my vision that our initial group of teachers becomes certified to teach the yoga studies 11, yoga for special needs, and yoga for Autism,” said Marshall. “We have a very dedicated group of teachers, aides, and principals that see the benefits of yoga in our schools.” 

“Teaching students yoga helps restore balance in their minds and body and helps see themselves as the amazing youth that they are! I never anticipated all the applications yoga has in the classroom, but through Blair and Jenny's guidance, the possibilities are endless...” - Marshall

Janean Marshall's voice cracked with emotion as she described receiving her second master's degree and serving as valedictorian at Mount Saint Vincent University's convocation Sunday.

"It's pretty amazing to be a Mi'kmaq person in this province and be given an opportunity to have a voice and a say and to thank all the people along your journey that have helped you get where you are today," she said. "I don't think the moment, or the opportunity, really sunk in until I was standing at the podium and looking down at my speech."

Marshall, a resident of Eskasoni, said her message to fellow graduates at the Halifax university was for them to endeavour to a make a difference.

"In whatever path that they're choosing today, having just received education degrees and master of education degrees, that they have a duty to be an agent of change in their communities, to work in whatever capacity to give back and teach the next generation and instill pride in who they are and where they come from," she said.

It's a philosophy that Marshall has been living for years, both in her community and in her career in education.

A mother, wife, educator, basketball coach and active community volunteer, Marshall added to her growing list of credentials Sunday, earning a master's of education degree in curriculum studies, with a specialty in supporting diverse learning needs. It's her fourth university degree, having already earned a bachelor of arts degree focused on Mi’kmaq studies from the University College of Cape Breton (now Cape Breton University) in 1999, a bachelor of education degree specializing in diverse cultures and languages from St. Francis Xavier University in 2001, and a master's of education degree in leadership and administration from St. FX in 2010.

She has more than 10 years of experience teaching in the classroom and for the last few years has worked as a student services consultant with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey serving students with diverse learning needs.

"I work with teachers in our MK board in the area of special education, so I provide professional development and ongoing training opportunities in that area," she said.

Marshall was able to earn her latest master's degree while continuing to live and work in Cape Breton, as Mount Saint Vincent offered the program in a satellite location in Membertou. As a mother of three, including a 10-year-old son with autism, Marshall has a very personal interest in advocating for children with special needs, and takes with her from Mount Saint Vincent new knowledge and new skills in her field.

"Being a mother of a special needs child in our communities, I've learned very quickly that you have to be a voice of advocacy, so for me going forward, I take on that role as a promoter and advocate for inclusion and social justice in our Mi'kmaq education, looking at equitable services in our communities, and making sure that our kids get the best opportunities possible," she said.

Originally from Massachusetts, Marshall's family roots are in Eskasoni, and she moved permanently to the Cape Breton First Nations community as young adult.

"When I made the decision to enter post-secondary I wanted to come back to Cape Breton because I had spent a lot of time here throughout the summers of my childhood," she recalled. "There's something about crossing that causeway — you just feel like you're home and Eskasoni has been an amazing place to learn and grow and start a family and live with my family."

(via Cape Breton Post/MSVU.)

 

Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) released its annual report today at the organization’s Annual General Assembly in Dartmouth. The report highlights MK’s work during the 2013-2014 academic year and focuses on its core areas of activity: Elementary and secondary education, post-secondary education, performance measurement, the Atlantic Canada First Nation Help Desk, Mi’kmaq language, special education, sports, health and wellness, and the First Nation School Success Program (FNSSP).

In 2013-14, high school graduation rates among Mi’kmaw students in Nova Scotia reached 87% per cent. Nearly 500 Mi’kmaw students were enrolled in post secondary education, and almost 100 of those students graduated in Spring 2014 with a post-secondary diploma or degree. Literacy, numeracy, school attendance, and student retention performance continued to improve. 

MK Executive Director, Eleanor Bernard, feels they’ve come a long way in a short time and believes they have a self-governance model of education that works.

“Our students are becoming more confident in themselves and their education,” said Bernard. “And when they enter Grade 12 in the fall, they say ‘This is the year I’m going to graduate’ – and this year 87% of them did.”

In 1999, under federal government legislation, Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia won the right to manage the education of their children for the first time in a century. As an education authority that provides central services, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey assists Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw schools deliver language immersion courses, culturally appropriate teaching pedagogy, and other initiatives to promote student success.

Efforts to maintain and revitalize the Mi’kmaq language remained strong in 2013-14 through the translation of seven Robert Munsch books into the Mi’kmaw language, and the development of Mi’kmaw language apps for Apple and android technology. Infrastructure grew substantially with the opening of a new state-of-the-art gymnasium at Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, a new P-6 school in Membertou considered to be one of the greenest in the province, and a new NSCC Learning Centre in Wagmatcook. The 2013-14 academic year also saw Glooscap First Nation join the Mi’kmaw education authority, a renewed education agreement with the Province of Nova Scotia, and the first class of a Mi’kmaq language immersion program to graduate from Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School. 

Major steps were taken with MK’s DADAVAN initiative, a system that monitors strategies and goals for schools and creates educational support statistics such as graduation, attendance and retention rates. Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk continued to provide technology related resources to First Nation schools in Atlantic Canada, including fibre optics connectivity, safe Internet feeds, videoconferencing networks, and youth employment opportunities.

MK chairman Chief Leroy Denny says students only succeed when everyone works together. 

“Our communities’ partnerships and dedication to advancing Mi’kmaw education are providing our students with access to first-class learning environments and are opening more doors and providing more opportunities for them to grow than ever before,” Denny said.

 

Most Cape Breton students went back to school Thursday, but students and staff were especially excited to enter the new $8.2-million Membertou Elementary School.

Membertou education director Darren Googoo said 101 students were enrolled last year in the old Maillard Street elementary school.

This year, because of the new school, the Primary-to-Grade-6 student population has increased more than 50 per cent.

“They’ve really taken to it,” Googoo said. “There were 161 students that came to school today, excited to be here and ready to learn. As an educator, you can’t ask for more than that.”

Membertou parents can choose to enrol their children in the public education system but are obviously pleased with the new school, which contains state-of-the-art technology in each classroom, said Googoo.

The school’s official name, Maupeltuewey Kina’matno’kuom, means “the place where we learn” in Mi’kmaq. It falls under the Mi’kmaw Kinamatnewey education system and was funded with $6.1 million from the system and $2.1 million from the community.

Each classroom contains Smart boards and smart audio, so teachers can speak at a normal volume and yet be heard by each student in the room. The computer lab has 24 new Macintosh workstations and the students have access to laptops, iPads and Kobo eReaders.

Students also take Mi’kmaq language classes every day, in addition to the full provincial curriculum.

“Our school is based on a couple of simple principles,” said Googoo, also a member of the Cape Breton-Victoria regional school board. “Our (band) council committed to quality education and one grade, one teacher. We don’t combine classes.

“We’re preparing our students for the 21st century, to participate in the world economy, and at the same time putting a strong emphasis on who we are as Mi’kmaq people.”

The school was built with a geothermal heating and cooling system and contains an array of solar panels that feed electricity into the Nova Scotia Power grid. Googoo said it is estimated the solar panels alone will generate $12,000 to $18,000 annually in electricity credits.

The building was also designed as a community facility, with separate access to the extra-large gymnasium and library.

As well, there is room to expand, and the plumbing and electrical work are ready if the community decides to add junior high classrooms in the future.

And Health Canada is expected to provide funding for a dental clinic that is already built in the school.

Googoo said attendance rates at the elementary school have soared over the last decade, and the dental clinic will help students miss fewer classes.

More than 10 years ago, a majority of students missed school about one in every four days. Last year, 95 per cent of students missed fewer than eight days of school all year.

“It’s a significant increase,” said Googoo.

Academics are improving, too, he said. Last year, about one-third of all Membertou students, on and off reserve, made the honour roll.

The new school is still getting some final touches. A fence was under construction on opening day and the outdoor basketball court and playground are in the works.

A grand opening will be held on September 16.

Via Cape Breton Post.

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