A new agreement between the Central Urban Métis Federation (CUMFI) and the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Board (GSCS) has been signed in order to promote Métis language, culture and history in the classroom.
A signing ceremony was held at St. Michael Community School in Saskatoon on Monday to celebrate the agreement, which is being called the Métis Education Alliance.
While a group of Métis dancers jigged in the background, GSCS superintendent Gordon Martell explained that agreement will support Métis students in the classroom.
“This agreement today commits Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools to sharing information with the Central Urban Métis Federation in terms of aggregated outcomes so we can make better collaborative decisions regarding programming to support students to achieve equitable outcomes and learning outcomes,” Martell said.
A memorandum of understanding was originally signed between CUMFI and GSCS back in 2010. That agreement expired in 2015. Now, under the newly-inked agreement, a working group will be established between the school board and CUMFI.
“No longer are they waiting to hear what we’re doing about their community’s student outcomes,” said Martell. “They’re part of the planning table now.”
Another part of the agreement will include the implementation of Métis Alliance Schools, which will incorporate more Métis culture into the GSCS curriculum, Martell said.
“That’s a school where we work together to make sure that Métis education is front and center, that it’s being celebrated like it is here today.”
Currently, the St. Michael Community School is the only one among the 44 schools under the GSCS that’s been designated as an alliance school.
CUMFI president Shirley Isbister said that the St. Michael Community School is a great example of what can be done. She pointed to ‘Michif Mondays’, a Métis language initiative that’s currently being offered at the school.
She recalls her parents only using the language to talk between themselves, and that Michif was never passed down to her during her childhood.
“At that time, having a Michif language was a barrier, because of the racism and the abuse that you got from it,” said Isbister.
“You didn’t want people to know that you were of Aboriginal ancestry if you didn’t have to.”
Isbister hopes that the Métis education alliance agreement will change that going forward and create a legacy that will be passed down.
“I hope to be able to one day have my grandchildren transported here so that they can learn their language.”