Windigo First Nations Council, Keewatin-Patricia District School Board sign Memorandum of Understanding
Tim Brody - Editor
Windigo First Nations Council (WFNC) 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.
The agreement was signed on Nov. 29 in Winnipeg, Manitoba during the WFNC Chiefs’ Meeting.
A joint news release issued by WFNC and KPDSB explained, “The MOU is intended to establish a forum for the WFNC and KPDSB to work collaboratively to help design and promote strategies to equip First Nation students with the social, emotional and academic educational opportunities required to be successful in reaching their personal and educational goals, and in attaining achievement levels comparable to the general student population in Ontario.”
Priority areas outlined in the MOU include:
• Student Support Services - Including student safety, social and emotional mental health, student transition and orientation programs, early exposure to career planning, parental empowerment initiatives, support mechanisms for students living away from home, student retention strategies, access and ongoing participation in extra-curricular activities, the development of a First Nation student anti-addiction education program, and other student support services as needed.
• Independent Education Plans (IEP) - Support in the form of strategies and professional mentorship will be provided to identify special needs students and to develop IEPs for such students. First Nation education will be supported with access to required student supports and programs, including access to professional development on all aspects of IEP evaluation and implementation.
• Curriculum - Development of curriculum modules and implementation strategies to enhance the inclusion and integration of First Nation history, culture, perspectives and language for all students in both First Nation and provincially operated schools.
• Professional Development - Strategies to reciprocate support of staff learning 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 within the Ontario public education context, and First Nation schools.
• Human Resources - Activities to support the effectiveness of education and support staff in both the First Nation and provincially operated systems to help ensure that staff have the skills and training to meet the needs of First Nations in both education systems. Explore options to facilitate increasing the number of First Nation staff, including the participation of elders, in KPDSB schools. Develop and implement retention programs for administrators, teachers and support staff to improve staff relations and continuance of programming.
• Professional Mentoring - Engage in professional mentoring programs between First Nations and the KPDSB for best practices.
• Specialized Supports - Access to specialists, including but not limited to speech and language development, support staff, and literacy/numeracy specialists.
• Parental Participation - Strategies to facilitate improved First Nation parental communication, empowerment and involvement throughout their children’s academic years in all educational systems on and off their traditional territory.
Frank McKay, WFNC Chief Executive Officer and Council Chair, stated “Today we are pleased to sign on behalf of the Windigo First Nations Communities, and above all, our students. We envision going forward with the issues outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding, it can only benefit our students, not only academically, but also emotionally and socially with the necessary supports that will ensure their success. We are pleased that we will be working in partnership with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board to ensure the success of all WFNC students”.
Sean Monteith, KPDSB Director of Education, added “After almost three years of meetings and negotiations, the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board has proudly signed the official Memorandum of Understanding with Windigo First Nations Council. Both Windigo and the KPDSB ensured Indigenous and Northern children were at the center of every conversation and decision throughout the creation of this agreement. The centrepiece of this agreement assures all of the Windigo communities that the KPDSB will share its expertise, learning and capacity-building so that the Windigo Education Authority may in a shorter period of time, be a stand-alone education authority. Keewatin-Patricia will now proudly add Windigo to its successful Indigenous partnerships that will improve the lives of children.”