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Indigenous culture provided for students

We’re trying to build relationships through this
Hundreds of students saw history first hand at TOGP on June 10

For over 40 years Fort la Bosse School Division has been growing Indigenous content in the schools, including First Nations staff with Dakota language teachers.

“Fort la Bosse School Division has been growing in the area of Indigenizing curriculum and resources since 1980 when Linda Eastman first joined the division as the Dakota Language teacher,” says FLBSD administrator Barry Pitz. 
“Mr. Jason Taylor has proved to be a great addition at Virden Collegiate supporting teachers across the division as well as teaching the Cultural Exploration Class,” said Pitz. “Over the years, Lola Thunderchild, now newly elected Chief Thunderchild had been an incredible asset to the division supporting students and staff at Virden Junior High and across the division by way of the Annual Divisional Pow Wow.”

In December of 2021, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced support to bring Elders and Knowledge Keepers into schools to promote the inclusion of First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories, culture and traditional values, as well as contemporary lifestyles, in the provincial curricula.
It’s a step along the path of reconciliation.
“Including First Nations, Métis and Inuit knowledge and teachings in schools across the province will create space for our children to understand and celebrate the rich histories of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba,” said Cullen. 

For Fort la Bosse, the Instruction Curriculum Technology Co-ordinator is Michael Thiessen. He explains why the Elders and Knowledge Keepers sessions in the schools are important: “People just don’t know. They don’t understand each other. We’re trying to build relationships through this. So, what this did is it allowed us to bring in people from communities around Virden, and even in Virden, to come and visit the school and talk about culture, language and who [they] are as people.”
He says it’s important for the Dakota students to actually have a grandpa, an uncle or aunt come in and share their story and who they are. To talk about their language and their culture. 

The Pow Wow, held at Tundra Oil & Gas Place, June 10, was facilitated by FLBSD and all students were invited. Elkhorn Gr 5-8 students attended and students from Goulter, Mary Montgomery and the junior high school attended with VCI attendance optional. Reston had a sports day at their school and couldn’t come over, but around 1,000 students filled arena bleachers along with teachers and a few interested adults.

The Manitoba government invested $275,000 in the pilot program. This program provided the funds for this pow wow held last week in Virden.