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Education close to home
Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs is planning for a brighter future for the territory by providing more educational programs at home for Aboriginal people.
On Oct. 26 at the grand opening of the ITEP (Indian Teacher Education Program), part of the BATC partnership with University of Saskatchewan, it was announced that the next step is to develop further alliances that will bring in more programs to the area, including agriculture, nursing, commerce and kinesiology.
It’s the first year of offering ITEP in the Battlefords.
Classes are held at the Don Ross Centre.
“With 50 students enrolled, there is utilization of cross-cultural education with Elders as resource people. It also provides students opportunity to maintain close contact with family …,” said BATC representative Sarah Gopher.
Another recent BATC partnership now in its second year of operation is with the North West Regional College here. An employment and training initiative, the Active Measures Program offers workplace Essential Skills programming.
Director of this program is Melanie Kahpeaysewat. She is pleased to be a part of the development of educational and training leading to employment of Aboriginal people.
“I’m really honored to be part of this initiative BATC has developed for First Nations. It’s hard on family members when students have to go away, which is sometimes detrimental to them in their success to completing their programs/education,” Kahpeaysewat said.
City Alderman Ray Fox also spoke to those gathered for the grand opening, expressing his gratitude for the BATC offering programs for the benefit and development of the Battlefords.
Also in attendance was newly-elected Fourth Vice Chief Simon Bird of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations who spoke in both Cree and English to those gathered for the grand opening.
“Every day and every meeting we’re faced with obstacles. Our students face high rent, high cost of living. Students, you have an advantage here in North Battleford of having your family members beside you while going to school right next door,” Bird said.
Bird is also a teacher trained in the ITEP program. He thanked BATC for the invite to the grand opening.
ITEP Student Council Representative Quinton Swiftwolfe addressed those gathered, thanking everyone and presenting gifts to Ray Fox and Simon Bird on behalf of the student council. A traditional feast wrapped up the day’s event.
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