College of Education Alumni in the News
This page features College of Education Alumni that have been "in the News" within the past 6 months.
Alumnas Publishes Third Book
Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Wedding
Wedding bells are ringing in the past! The wind brings Natalia a babushka just like the ones her Baba used to wear, taking the young girl on a magical journey to an autumn long ago to discover the wedding traditions of her Ukrainian Heritage.
Marion Mutala earned a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1979 and Masters of Education Degree in 1996. With a mad passion for the arts, Marion Mutala loves to write, folkdance, sing, play guitar, garden, travel and read. Marion credits her 30 years of teaching to helping her develop unique stories, songs, and poetry.
You can find her first two award winning bestselling books Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Christmas and Baba’s Babushka: A Magical Ukrainian Easter at a bookstore near you!
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Cecil King: Education, Controversy, and the Overwhelming Response to His New Book.
Balancing Two Worlds: Jean Baptiste Assiginack and the Odawa Nation 1768-1866 is a journey through the history of the Anishnabek peoples as they navigated contact with the strangers who came to their territories. Told as an Odawa narrative, this book is an account of one of the forgotten heroes of the defining conflict, Jean-Baptiste Assiginack.
From the Desk of Cecil King:
“When I came to Saskatchewan to complete my B.Ed in the early 1970’s, it was because the University of Saskatchewan was in the forefront of Indian Education in Canada. I was a qualified teacher from Ontario but the Ontario teacher training was no different for teachers of Indian children than other teachers. I wanted to learn more about how to teacher our students and ensure that they succeeded in school.”
I knew of the work done at the University of Saskatchewan because Fr. Andre Renaud, Director of the Indian and Northern Education Program from U of S spoke all over Canada, to conferences of teachers teaching in Indian and northern communities. What he talked about was revolutionary thinking in Indian education. He believed that teachers needed to provide “education from within.” This meant starting with the child’s previous knowledge, the knowledge he/she had learned from his/her Mother, Father Grandmother, Grandfather and community and build on that. Teachers were excited by the ideas and teachers like me, Indians ourselves were especially excited because all of our education we had been told that we had to “leave our Indianness at the door,” put aside the teachings of our ancestors, leave our communities and not to speak our language because it would hold us back in learning the things that we needed to survive in the “modern” world.
Arriving in Saskatoon, I found students and faculty in the Indian and Northern Education Program who came to school every day looking for ways to help Indian, Inuit and Metis kids to succeed in school. These people were passionate about providing a better education for these kids. I was caught up in their enthusiasm. I had known Dr. Art Blue in Ontario. He was the first Native American university professor I had ever met. He was a clinical psychologist who believed that a person’s cultural background was an essential part of their being. He pushed the Indian students like myself to acknowledge our cultural selves and bring it into our teaching.
At first I resisted because all through my residential schools days, I had been told that the stories told by my Elders were “primitive”. They were “quaint” and filled with “superstition.” Art wanted to know about my language, and the ways of my people. I found for the first time in my education, a learning environment which wanted to support who I was as an “Odawa” person.”
I was lucky enough to be welcomed into residence at Emmanuel-St. Chad’s Anglican College. The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College was located at McLean Hall. The College was the heart of Indian cultural research for the Indian people of Saskatchewan. From this Cultural College, Smith Atimoyoo searched among the communities for those people who had held dear and protected the history, philosophy, spirituality and cultural ways of each of the different nations indigenous to Saskatchewan. The Cultural College had the facilities to house, care for and record the knowledge of these cultural caretakers. Groups of Elders were coming to the College weekly to be recorded in their languages building a library of cultural knowledge. I took up residence in the middle of this amazing endeavour.
The Cultural College had a recording studio. The high quality of the recordings was essential because everyone knew that there were only a few Elders with the knowledge left. Ted Whitecalf learned the technical side of recording to ensure that the words of the Elders were there for posterity. Ed Lavallee transcribed the words of the Elders. Smith Atimpoyoo orchestrated the Elders’ meetings so that the knowledge possessed by individuals became part of the knowledge available to others in the program itself.
Ken Goodwill managed the College and kept the funding coming and developed the various departments to turn this knowledge into teachable materials to be used in communities and schools. At the time, Indian Control of Indian Education was the goal of Indian organizations in Canada. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians had been instrumental in the development of the policy for the National Indian Brotherhood in 1972. Rodney Soonias became the head of the Indian Cultural College and envisioned it as the heart of an Indian controlled education system from PreK-to university. Critial to the development of an Indian-controlled educational system in Rodney’s plan were Indian teachers.
I became the first Director of the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) when Rodney Soonias told Dean Kirkpatrick that he could find an Indian educator to develop the program. In preparation for taking the concept for the program to the Board of Teacher Education, as it was called then, Rodney, Art, Smith and I dismantled every course taught in the Standard A Program and showed how the course would be taught with content, knowledge and methods which would be more familiar to Indian students. Today it would be called “Indigenizing the Curriculum.” Our goal was two-fold: to justify a separate teacher training program for Indian teacher-trainees and to offer a program to support the success of Indian students.
This was the milieu which brought me back to my culture after having it educated out of me. With the help of the people I mentioned in the University of Saskatchewan, I began to look to my Odawa history. I completed my M.Ed under Art Blue analyzing the concept of “animism” in the Ojibwe language. Art strongly believed that the person’s cognitive ability was tied to his/her perceptions of the world. He pushed me to look at the values and worldview underlying the words of my language. That way of looking at First languages became a fundamental part of my approach.
It was from this understanding of the importance of culture to being that brought me to the book that I have just released. J. B. Assiginack was a member of my community who was spoken of with derision when I was a child. He was called a “Sell Out” and a “Traitor.” After twenty-five years of research, I have found that he was a man raised in the Odawa way and throughout his life, which was nearly one hundred years; he tried to live true to his values and the vision for his people during a time when 3 different powers were taking the traditional life from his people. He was forced to support policies which curtailed his people’s lifestyle but at the time were less onerous than the alternatives. And, often in the process despite his concessions, he was betrayed by the British, American or Upper Canadian governments. Through the study of his life as an Odawa person, I have recorded the history of Canada through the eyes of our people. I have shown how our people had reason to disagree with the history of Canada which they were taught in the schools because it was not the history of the country that they had learned from their Elders or the history that their people had lived.”
Meegwetch. These are my words.
Education Alumnus Shortlisted for National Writing Award
Sally Meadows, a singer/songwriter, freelance writer, and former children’s entertainer (“Sal the Science Gal”), has been shortlisted for a 2013 Word Award for the title track from her debut 2012 CD release “Turn the Page”. With over 100 nominees from across Canada in more than 30 categories, Meadows is one of only two writers shortlisted from the province of Saskatchewan.
Education Alumnus Named First Aboriginal Chancellor
Blaine Favel, the president of One Earth Oil and Gas, Former Chief of Poundmaker Cree Nation, Grand Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and Alumnus of the College of Education, is now the first aboriginal chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan. He was appointed the position by the University Senate in the morning of Saturday April 20th. As the appointment nominator, the College of Education is very proud to welcome Blaine into his new role; we are confident that he will be a positive force for change and represent the University of Saskatchewan well.
Desjardins Earns Outstanding Coach Award
Texas Stars Coach and College of Education Alumnus Willie Desjardins has been named the winner of the Louis A. R. Pieri Award as the American Hockey League’s Outstanding Coach for the 2012-2013 season. With a long list of career achievements including earning coach of the year honors in 2005-2006 and serving as both assistant coach and head coach for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championships, Desjardin is very deserving of this prestigious award. He joined Texas this season after two years serving as associate coach of the Dallas Stars. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League from 2002-10, winning league championships in 2004 and 2007. Desjardin also received the College of Education’s Alumni Wall of Honour Award in 2012.
Martell Recognized with National Award
Local educator and College of Education Indian Teacher Education Program Alumnus, Gordon Martell was recognized with a national award for his commitment and contribution to education and helping students realize their potential. As the Superintendent of Learning Services for the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School, he has been honoured by Indspire with a Guiding the Journey: Indigenous Educator Award for leadership. Gord’s impressive portfolio includes the First Nation and Metis Unit, First nations Elders, Indigenous Language programming, and community schools.
Netmaker Granted ABEX Community Involvement Award
“To see an Aboriginal person running a business in the mainstream marketplace is huge,” says Kendal Netmaker. With the goal of improving the lives of First Nations Youth, Kendall has turned the profits from his clothing company into an opportunity for others. Soon after founding Neechie Gear, Kendall formed a non-profit called NG Athletics Club Inc. that creates the opportunity for First Nations youth to get into sports. Kendall explains “I envision a day where underprivileged kids don’t have to pay for anything just to play sports. You solve that problem, and you solve so many lifelong problems after that.”
To celebrate his success, Kendall was presented with the 2012 ABEX Community Involvement Award by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. Chosen based on the exceptional performance in support of amateur sports, Kendall is no stranger to winning awards. The 24 year old entrepreneur has an extensive list of achievements, including representing Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit alongside Stephen Harper. Kendall recognizes the importance of getting an education and that his time at the U of S was essential to his success.
Beyond the Classroom Walls, Miyo Pimatisowin Takes Students Outdoors
Charlie Conner, a recent graduate of ITEP (Indian Teacher Education Program) at the College of Education, is excited for the future of a new outdoor education program.
(Students from Beuna Vista School in The College's Prairie Habitat Garden)
The program is based on successful models developed by the Saskatoon Public School Division, and was developed by educators from the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan and the Thunderchild First Nation. The program is named Miyo Pimatisowin and translates to "healthy living" or "good healthy living" in Cree. The name was developed by the Elders, when they heard what the program entailed.
As part of the curriculum of the new program, outdoor education will consist of activities and trips that focus on environmental conservation, traditions, and customs of the Thunderchild Cree Nation. With 10 years of experience as an outdoor educator, Conner knows that trips can be challenging. Through activities like camping, canoeing, and dogsledding, students will need to exude determination, strength, and perseverance to overcome the obstacles. Conner explains, “It can be hard physically and mentally, and students need to dig down deep in order to finish. It is not all butterflies, roses, and clear starry nights.” But he is confident that the challenges will help students to “establish their identity and find meaning in the world by connecting to our Cree culture, exploring our great province, and learning about people around the world who strive for social justice and ecological accountability.”
A significant factor in developing Miyo Pimatisowin was to decrease disengagement of students between the 7th and 9th grades. Conner hopes that the excitement and adventure associated with learning outdoors, will keep students interested in continuing with their education. He also notes the environmental impact the program can have, “Outdoor Education allows students to develop a connection to Mother Earth, and understand that practicing ecologically sound principles is a personal and moral choice. Without a connection established through experience, their actions will continue to contribute to environmental degradation.”
Conner is very excited for the future of the Miyo Pimatisowin program, and is appreciative of his education in the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) through the College of Education. He explains, “The faculty within ITEP has always been supportive and encouraged me to pursue my passion for the outdoors. They connected me with the right people and the classes provided the theory and background to allow me to think that an alternative education model could work with resounding success.”
- Kate Clements is a graduate of the SUNTEP Program at the College of Education Unversity of Saskatchewan. Kate represented her fellow Alumni by speaking at the Celebration to Commemorate the University of Saskatchewan's Program renewel with the Gabriel Dumont Institute. Kate was featured in the July 2012 issue of Eagle Feather News, follow this link to read the article http://aborigin.sasktelwebhosting.com/past_issues.html
College of Education Grad, Blaine Favel is interviewd by CTV. Former cheif of Poundmaker Cree Nation speaks about the Assembly of First Nations Conference. Blaine has also been awarded an Honourary Doctorate of Laws Degree by the College of Education, as well as inducted into the Alumni Wall of Honour. Watch below or follow this link http://www.ctvnews.ca/videoclipId=722446&playlistId=1.882351&binId=1.810401
Blane Flavel and his mother.