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  • Prime Minister Trudeau visits Oskāyak

    ​Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started his April 27 visit to Saskatoon at Oskāyak High School.

    A small gathering of guests (school and division staff, First Nations dignitaries, and representatives from various levels of government) welcomed the prime minster to start the day the way the school normally does—with a traditional First Nations song.

    After a brief overview of the school and it's programming, Trudeau made his way to a classroom that is home of the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program (AYEP). In partnership with the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, AYEP teaches students practical and technical skills through hands-on learning.

    Teachers Marc Gobiel and Todd Knihnitski explained the unique classroom where students design and build their own electric guitars from start to finish. Trudeau helped put the finishing touches on one of the guitars.

    Trudeau then joined a school assembly in the gymnasium. He applauded the work of the Martin Aboriginal Educational Initiative for its forward-thinking view of education. "Schools like Oskāyak are changing the narrative of education of First Nations youth in our country," he said.

    Being well-grounded in one's cultural identity is central to success, he explained. "Investment in Aboriginal education isn't just about your community, it's about building a stronger country."

    After a few questions from media, Trudeau spent time answering students' questions that covered topics such as youth employment and honouring treaty promises.

    Students Kristen Albert and Taniesha Longman presented the prime minister with a special gift on behalf of the school—a custom made guitar, complete with an embossed leather strap.

    On behalf of the school division, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools' Board of Education Chair Diane Boyko, along with Bishop James Mahoney student and Métis artist Jasmine Sites, gave Trudeau one of Sites' artworks titled Hope. Boyko said, "The work you and your government have committed to do for education of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, and strengthen relationships with Indigenous peoples in our country, gives hope."

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