Listuguj First Nation offers McGill education degree in fall
Program starts in September, chief predicts 'ripple effect will be tremendous'
A bachelor of education program offered through McGill University will debut in Listuguj First Nation in September, taught by community members with master's degrees and doctorates.
From 41 applicants, 25 students have been chosen, all Mi'kmaq students from Listuguj, Eel River Bar, and Gesgapegiag First Nations. Several more applicants have been put on a waiting list.
The bachelor of arts in community studies offered through Cape Breton University was also a popular program.
"First off it's being offered here in Listuguj," said Listuguj Chief Darcy Gray. "Secondly it's being taught primarily by our people and third, you're going to see so much incorporation of our traditions, our culture, our history, our ways of learning traditional knowledge. Those kind of things will be written into our program and delivered by our people."
Gray says he and his council are trying to shift the mentality around education on the reserve, and create new curriculum for the community's Alaqsite'w Gitpu School.
We're trying to determine the shift of what's important and redefine success for our people.- Listuguj Chief Darcy Gray
"We're trying to determine the shift of what's important and redefine success for our people and say for our culture and Mi'kmaq people to be successful we need to teach what's important to us," said Gray.
"This is tremendous because you have parents who will be part of this, setting an example for their children. The positive energy created by this, teaching your own people in your own backyard by your own people, it's such a ripple effect that we saw through the bachelor of arts in community studies. The cohort mentality that's created where everybody's there to support, everybody's on the same page, and the goal is everybody be successful. So the ripple effect is tremendous."
Something to succeed in
Kaitlyn Barnaby, 22, has been working as a special care worker in her community, but says "entry-level jobs get old fast."
"There's never been a time when you can succeed on the reserve. There's never been that option for us."
Barnaby looks forward to being able to "inspire young minds," and educate young people in her community. She found out in early August she would be admitted to the bachelor of education program and was thrilled.
Her friend, Leha Jacques, 24, is already an educator. She works at the Alaqsite'w Gitpu School.
"The words I know in Mi'kmaq, I like to incorporate them with my daughter. I think it's very important that she'll get that from me too, and the kids at the school that I work with," said Jacques.
"You have parents who will be part of this, setting an example for their children," said Gray, who is also an educator by trade, and delivered curriculum for the University of Cape Breton program.
"The positive energy created by this, teaching your own people in your own backyard by your own people, it's such a ripple effect."