Education forums in communities around Eeyou Istchee this spring have shone a spotlight on the delivery of Cree education to our youth.
On May 29-30, 2019, Whapmagoostui held its first "Local Education Conference" under the leadership of Community Education Administrator William Kawapit.
"We wanted to make it broadly know that the Cree School Board offers more than a youth school. We have adult education in our community, and we offer solid supports for students who want to go to post-secondary school," Kawapit said, adding that attendance was "in the dozens" during the peak periods of the two-day event.
Community members including representatives from local Council joined the gathering of Cree School Board (CSB) employees and leaders in an effort to bring focus to the efforts to educating youth and adults in the Cree Nation.
"These schools belong to all of us, the Cree School Board belongs to all of us, and it is important that we listen to each other, work together, form partnerships, and collaborate to ensure that our students, our young people, are supported in effective ways."
- Sarah Pash, CSB Chairperson
The Whapmagoostui Education Conference was one of several forums held by CSB schools this spring. On May 21, Waskaganish schools held an evening event intended to share ideas on ways to support student success and decrease absenteeism and latenesses. Parents, school administrators, teachers, the parent committee, and other leadership contributed. One theme that emerged was the need for parental involvement. Others were absenteeism and bullying, and Cree culture and language.
Wabannutao Eeyou School in Eastmain hosted a “Local Education Conference” on Thursday November 22 and Friday, November 23rd, 2018. Their theme was Come back to the Green Side. One day was entirely in Cree, the other in English.
"Now, more than ever we have to stand together in the quest for a healthier planet! " said Vice-Principal Sarah Mark-Stewart. "We believe that we can make a valuable contribution by acting as a recycling advocate in our community."
Survey results following the Eastmain event indicated that respondents were overwhelmingly (75 percent) in favour of more opportunities for this form of engagement.
In some communities, the education forum was held as a part of a bigger event, hosted by the local band. Such was the case in Waswanipi where Cree School Board Chairperson Sarah Pash was invited to speak. Following the forum, she had this to say:
"I was so grateful to be able to hear from community members while I was there. These schools belong to all of us, the Cree School Board belongs to all of us, and it is important that we listen to each other, work together, form partnerships, and collaborate to ensure that our students, our young people, are supported in effective ways. We need to work together for the success of all of our students!"