Education partnership earns Premier’s award for innovation
- John Lagimodiere | November 27, 2020
When you enter St. Michael Community School in Saskatoon, you begin to feel the Métis vibe immediately. Métis visuals, language and culture are all apparent and interwoven into the fabric of the school. The vibe has been fostered by a partnership between Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and Central Urban Métis Federation Inc., in collaboration with Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program and Gabriel Dumont Institute.
This innovative partnership has been recognized with the 2020 Premier’s Board of Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in Education for the submission of “Marrsî ôma kici kâmiyin – The St. Michael Métis School of Excellence.”
“The partnerships that make Métis programming at St. Michael Community School possible really breathe a vibrancy into the school,” said Diane Boyko, Board of Education Chair at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. “The school has become a hub of activity, not only for learning, but for a wide variety of cultural and community activities. There’s a sense of excitement around things like learning Michif, fiddling and jigging, that has translated into interest and enthusiasm in other areas of learning. We really think this model of community education has been, and will continue to be successful for students, staff and families. When we’re able, we look forward to celebrating with our partners and the entire community in true Métis style.”
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) co-ordinates the Premier’s Award each year. The award was presented on behalf of Premier Scott Moe during the SSBA’s virtual Annual General Assembly on Thursday.
“The Government of Saskatchewan is proud to recognize our province’s great leaders in education,” Minister of Education Dustin Duncan said on behalf of Premier Scott Moe. “This award is presented to the boards of education which exemplify education innovation and student achievement, and our boards have exceeded all expectations. Due to Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools’ ingenuity and collaborative work, they have earned this year’s distinction.”
In its application for the award, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools said the Métis School of Excellence “represents the commitment of the Board to collaborate with Métis families and organizations to adapt the division to the needs and aspirations of the Métis community so that all students enjoy the richness of Métis history and culture, and so that Métis students achieve their full God-given potential.” The $3,000 award has been sponsored by Xerox Canada since its development in 1999. The award recipient is recommended by a panel of education sector partners.
Shirley Isbister, President of CUMFI says that this recognition is really meaningful. “We started pushing for Métis education sixteen years ago. And now this partnership has all the right groups,” said Isbister. “We have to credit the entire Catholic School board for their dedication and board chair Diane Boyko has been a true champion. One key was the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan funding the Michif language program that started in kindergarten this year. All of the partners made it happen.”
Shirley loves visiting the school. “St. Michael is the most welcoming school. Students greet you at the door and are so friendly and the staff is so passionate,” added Isbister. “When you walk in, you know you are in a Métis school.”