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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.

On Sunday, July 13, Team Mi'kmaw Nova Scotia will host a National Aboriginal Indigenous Games (NAIG) Team Rally in Paqtnkek First Nation. The rally will begin at 2 p.m. and be held at the Community Gymnasium.

This year's NAIG will be held in Regina, Saskatchewan, from July 20 - 27. A delegation of 185 athletes representing 13 Mi'kmaw bands in Nova Scotia will travel to compete in the sports of archery, athletics (Track and Field), basketball, golf, softball, swimming, volleybal, and for the first time ever, lacrosse. 

On Sunday, athletes will march into Mosaic Stadium (home of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders) carrying the Mi'kmaq and Nova Scotia flags. All are welcome to join and help send off the team to Nationals.

For more information, contact tex@kinu.ca or 902-567-0336. 

On June 20, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Bernard Valcourt, and Chief Sidney Peters of the Glooscap First Nation announced that members of the First Nation will now be part of the Mi’kmaq Education Agreement in Nova Scotia.

“First Nation students deserve the same access to a quality education as other Canadians. The addition of the Glooscap First Nation to the Mi’kmaq Education Partnership will improve support to students in the education system, and I am pleased to announce this great accomplishment today for the Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey and its participating members,” said Valcourt.

The Agreement, in place since 1997, is a model for First Nation self-government in education which recognizes local decisions on education, including language, history, identity, and customs in the regular curriculum.

“Being part of self-government in education is definitely a move forward,” said Chief Peters. “Coming from a small community and lacking funding and capacity development has resulted in losing out on opportunities for our youth. 

“The opportunities that MK can offer will be beneficial to our youth and our community as a whole. We are excited and look forward to participating on the work to improve the quality of education for all our people.”

"Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey is committed to improving the quality of education for the Mi'kmaw students,” said MK Executive Director Eleanor Bernard. “This agreement affirms Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey and Glooscap First Nation's working relationship and mutual dedication to ensuring the students of Glooscap receive the best possible educational experience, and that they are comprehensively prepared to become confident, skilled, and educated individuals who will create a strong future for their community."

 

A new five-year agreement will help ensure Mi'kmaq students attending public schools continue to receive the programs and services they need to succeed. 

Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, joined members of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey today, June 12, for a signing ceremony for the Mi'kmaq Education Agreement.

"Improving educational outcomes for Mi'kmaq students in Nova Scotia is a high priority for both the province and the Mi'kmaq," said Ms. Casey. "This renewed agreement will continue to foster positive relations with the Mi'kmaq community, ensure a sound financial arrangement between school boards and Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey and provide stability for Mi'kmaq students in the public school system."

The agreement, which is in effect until July 2017, helps guide public school programs and services to support Mi'kmaq learners who are members of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey and normally served under Band schools. This includes payment procedures for tuition fees established by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. 

The agreement will also help ensure opportunities for First Nations to participate in decisions affecting Mi'kmaq students who attend public school, provide support for improved reporting of Mi'kmaq student outcomes, and help increase the knowledge and understanding of First Nations culture, language and history in public schools. 

"Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey is committed to providing quality education to Mi'kmaq students, both in our community schools as well as in public schools, in a way that our language, culture, and traditions are fostered in their lives thereafter and are embedded in their character," said Chief Leroy Denny, chair of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey.

"This agreement and continued working relationship with the province ensures that we achieve those goals for our students attending public schools, and that we prepare these students with the confidence, skills and educational opportunities they need to reach their full potential."

Glooscap First Nation recently joined the Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, to make 12 First Nations communities participating in the agreement.

There are about 500 Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey students attending public schools.

Seven classic stories by renowned children's author Robert Munsch have been translated into Mi'kmaq as part of a three-year project by Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey. The translated titles are Thomas' Snowsuit, Andrew's Loose Tooth, Love You Forever, I Have to Go, Mud Puddle, A Promise is a Promise, and I'm So Embarrassed. 

The books were unveiled on Monday, June 9 during the first day of classes at the newly constructed Membertou School.

A representative from almost every MK community was present to accept a set of the books to bring back to their communities. The full collection of Mi'kmaq Munsch books will be distributed to MK's 12 communities and will be integrated into school curriculum in the fall.

The translated books will also be made available for purchase in the coming months. For more information, contact blaire@Kinu.ca or 902-567-0336. 

Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey is currently accepting applications for its Donald Marshall Sr. Memorial Scholarship.

The objective of the Donald Marshall Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund is to support Mi’kmaw post-secondary students at the diploma, certifi cate, bachelor and graduate level in their field of study. The Fund contributes two annual scholarships for one thousand dollars ($1,000) each on or before October 1 (Treaty Day) of each calendar year. One for undergraduate studies and one for graduate studies.

1. Applicants must be a registered Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia First Nations or be on the Nova Scotia General Band Registry.

2. Applicants must be a graduate or be continuing in their field of study.

3. Applicants must submit an official transcript of marks from institution.

4. Applicants must submit a two-page essay advising committee as to the following: Educational Goals; Career Plans; Volunteer Work; School Activities; Barriers student has had to overcome in order to do well in their field of study; Cultural/Community Activities; and Awards.

Please submit application and essay post marked no later than the deadline of August 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

Send to:

Donald Marshall Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee

Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey

47 Maillard Street

Membertou, Nova Scotia B1S 2P5

Phone: (902) 567-0336

Fax: (902) 567-0337

Email: claire@kinu.ca

Please see and submit this application form: http://kinu.ca/sites/default/files/docres/2014/May/donald_marshall_scholarship-2013.pdf

For more information, email mkeducation@kinu.ca or phone 902-567-0336.

 

Mi’kmaw education in Nova Scotia marked another milestone today with the opening of a gymnasium at the Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni. The Mi’kmaw high school gymnasium is the first of its kind in the province.

“I am proud to celebrate the community’s investment in the health and wellness of our students,” said Eskasoni Education Director Elizabeth Cremo. “Healthy and active lifestyles are key to one’s self-esteem, academic performance, and self-actualization, and this gymnasium provides a safe, modern, and culturally-enriching facility for students of all interests and abilities to build these skills.”

Construction of the gymnasium began in early 2013 and employed 20 tradespeople from Eskasoni. The gymnasium will provide physical education programming for high school students, and will serve as a venue for sports, exercise, entertainment, arts, and culture for the community.

"Active lifestyles help prevent disease, improve mental health, and build positive habits within our youth," said Chief Leroy Denny, Chairman of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey and Chief of Eskasoni First Nation. "Their health and wellness is a priority for our Chiefs, and this new facility provides the youth of Eskasoni with new opportunities and better access to achieve these positive lifestyles."

Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High School opened in 1998 and educates over 200 grade ten, eleven and twelve students from Eskasoni and the surrounding area. The province’s only Mi’kmaw high school follows the Nova Scotia curriculum guide and supplements those with Mi’kmaq Language, Mi’kmaq Culture, and Mi’kmaq Studies courses. The first graduating class of the community’s Mi’kmaq Language Immersion Program will graduate this spring, and will see close to 30 students graduating fully bi-lingual in English and Mi’kmaq.

“The students and staff of Allison Bernard Memorial High School are thrilled about the new space and the opportunities it brings,” said Allison Bernard Memorial High School Principal Newell Johnson. “This new facility will have a significant impact in building these social and leadership skills.”

Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey invested $666,160 in the project. 

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