NAN hosts student orientation at Pelican Falls First Nations High School
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) helped Pelican Falls First Nations High School (PFFNHS) welcome their students for a new school year by hosting a student orientation on Sept. 5.
The entire student body, approximately 180 students, participated in the orientation, which featured booths that displayed area organizations, programs, and services that students can access while they’re away from their home communities.
The organizations in attendance were Shibogama First Nations Council, Sioux Lookout OPP, Tikinagan Child and Family Services, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre, Keewaytinook Okimakanak Board of Education, Northwestern Health Unit, NAN, and Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services Corporation.
“Through the Education Partnership Program we work with our partner organizations for various activities… We cover the whole region in NAN, and then we also do events like this in Timmins, Thunder Bay, and Sioux Lookout. We mainly work with high school students, that are in provincial schools, that come out for school,” said Anna Fern Kakegamic, Education Partnership Program officer.
Prior to viewing the booths, the students were welcomed and addressed by Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance.
“I hope you enjoy being part of our Municipality, as we enjoy having you here. I wish you all a very good year,” said Lawrance.
Both the event organizers and PFFNHS Principal Darrin Head shared the importance of exposing students to accessible services, especially while they’re away from home.
“We don’t have services like this in our communities, so a lot of them aren’t aware of what towns and cities might offer. Often times when they come out for grade nine, they might be too shy or they don’t have the awareness of services,” said Kakegamic.
“These kids would not know about any of these services unless our partners came out and introduced themselves at an event like this. Having it as a fun day as well is a bonus because it helps engage them, but the whole purpose is to show them what we offer and, if they need us, we’re here,” said Head.
“It’s great because they start to build relationships and they know that they can go to these people, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s one thing knowing that something is available but feeling comfortable enough to access it is another thing so, by meeting the people that they access the services through, makes it a lot easier for them to go and pursue those services,” he added.