NAN, KPDSB working together to benefit students, school staff
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance educational services and opportunities for students and staff.
Signed on May 11, in Timmins, during the NAN Chiefs Spring Assembly, a joint news release states the signing of the MOU is an important step to help NAN students reach their full learning potential, and offer opportunities comparable to the general student population in Ontario.
The MOU focuses on several areas aimed at improving educational outcomes for NAN students in both NAN First Nation operated schools and provincial schools. The priority areas include:
Student Support Services – Development and implementation of strategies to support student safety and well-being measures, including mental health, student transition and orientation programs, parent engagement initiatives, support mechanisms for students living away from home, student retention strategies, involvement in extra-curricular activities, and the development of a First Nation student anti-addiction education program.
Curriculum – Strategies to enhance the inclusion and integration of First Nation history, culture, perspectives, and language within the provincial curriculum as appropriate.
Professional Development – Strategies to support staff in meeting the holistic learning needs of First Nation students, development of strategies to facilitate cross-cultural training, and professional development for educators in the provincial education system.
Communication – Identification of mechanisms to improve communication between provincially funded schools and First Nation schools.
Human Resources – Explore options to facilitate increasing the number of First Nation staff, including the participation of elders, in provincial schools.
Parental Participation – Strategies to facilitate improved parental communication with, and involvement in, the provincially funded schools their children attend.
“Nishnawbe Aski Nation students, whether attending First Nation or provincial schools, deserve education opportunities that will enable them to follow their dreams,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox. “For far too long, First Nations students have fallen through the large divide between these two systems. By working together we can ensure that we are focused on student success. We appreciate the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board’s commitment to improve education outcomes and we look forward to strengthening our relationship.”
“With this signing, Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board take the unprecedented step of partnering together, putting the interests of children ahead of mandates, policies, and bureaucracy,” said KPDSB Director of Education Sean Monteith. “Perhaps most importantly, achieving this not by directive but rather by an ethical responsibility to Northern Ontario, and students and parents from NAN communities who look to education as the leveler of the field. Today is a day worth remembering. We are very pleased.”