Saskatoon Tribal Council partners with charity in push to boost Indigenous students' graduation rates

The Saskatoon Tribal Council has partnered with Pathways to Education Canada to help young Indigenous people reach their full potential.

'We owe it to those children,' says STC Chief Felix Thomas

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas hopes a new partnership with Pathways to Education Canada will set the bar for other tribal councils working to help their young people succeed at school. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

The Saskatoon Tribal Council has partnered with Pathways to Education Canada to help give young Indigenous people the resources to reach their full potential.

The partnership is the first of its kind between a tribal council and Pathways to Education, a national charitable organization that helps students from low-income communities succeed in their high school careers.

The move is part of the STC's push to boost Grade 12 graduation rates among its members to at least as high, or higher than, the provincial average by 2020.

STC Chief Felix Thomas said students who are identified and recruited for the Pathways to Education program will receive mentorship and support, including access to a physical space where they can study peacefully.  

"A lot of our homes are over-crowded and there's no quiet spot if a child were to try and do homework. There's too many people around and it's not conducive to a learning environment," said Thomas.  

"Once you have that physical space that also has some peers and mentors there, and some champions, that goes a long way."

STC hopes program will set the bar

Thomas added that the program was just one aspect of helping Indigenous youth succeed, saying that better graduation rates also rely on buy-in from parents.

He said the impact of residential schools has left some parents distrustful of the education system, making it harder for children to succeed at school.

Thomas hopes the Pathways to Education partnership will set the bar for other tribal councils to help support their young people.

"What we do will certainly be judged and certainly be watched, and we are going to make sure that we have a good program," he said.

"Not only for other tribal councils to possibly emulate, but we owe it to those children."

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend