With the guitar and fiddle accompanying song and dance, the Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI) and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) welcomed a new era of Métis education in Saskatoon.
Building upon a 10-year partnership intended to strengthen the voice of Métis education in the division's schools and support Métis students and families, the two groups signed an Educational Alliance agreement at St. Michael Community School on April 18.
Explaining the foundation of the agreement that began in 2005, Superintendent Gordon Martell said, "Métis are one of Canada's original peoples; they have a special place and voice in Canada. But that voice got left out of schools."
Board of Education Chair Diane Boyko expressed gratitude for CUMFI's years of support to "increase participation and a sense of belonging" among Métis students and to give an "accurate portrayal of Métis culture and history in all our schools."
In 2015, St. Michael began offering a Métis cultural program that focuses on the educational outcomes and well-being of all students. It offers academic and cultural programming such as dance, drama and art, and introduces students to Michif, the indigenous language of the Métis people in Canada. CUMFI President Shirley Isbister said, "When the Métis flag was raised last year, my heart was filled pride in our culture."
The new agreement continues the good work of the past 10 years and establishes a working group and governance committee, information sharing protocols, and parameters for consultation and planning to help establish the necessary supports for learning, retention and success of Métis students.
Martel is optimistic this next phase of the relationship will help improve educational outcomes of Métis students, will allow all 17,000 students in the division to know the story and culture of the Métis people, and that our schools will be "a welcoming place for all students, and a special place for Métis students."
Pictured: CUMFI President Shirley Isbister (left) and GSCS Board for Education Chair Diane Boyko sign agreement.