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Keewatin-Patricia school board partners with Windigo First Nations Council to 'improve lives of children'

Officials at the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) say they will be working collaboratively with the Windigo First Nations Council (WFNC) to help First Nations students get the social, emotional and academic educational opportunities needed to reach their personal and educational goals.

School board will assist council by offering training for teachers, resources, technological expertise

Officials from the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board and the Windigo First Nations Council signed a memorandum of understanding in Winnipeg on Thursday. Henry Wall, Frank McKay and Sean Monteith are pictured left to right. (KPDSB )

Officials at the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) say they will be working collaboratively with the Windigo First Nations Council (WFNC) to help Indigenous students get the social, emotional and academic educational opportunities needed to reach their personal and educational goals.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two organizations was signed on Thursday in Winnipeg during the tribal council's chiefs meeting, according to a written release from the school board.

"We are pleased that we will be working in partnership with the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board to ensure the success of all WFNC students," the council's chief executive officer and council chair, Frank McKay, was quoted as saying in the release.

The goal of the agreement is to enhance "First Nations control over First Nations education," said Sean Monteith, the board's director of education.

The board will assist schools and staff in the WFNC communities by offering training, resources and technological expertise.

"We may get a request they would like to have a professional development session on assessment as it pertains to special education needs . We would then send in several of our specialists, who are trained, experienced and resourced to go in and run a full gambit of professional development for their teachers, and we would do that on any level, with any request we're asked of, whether it's literacy, special education, technology," said Monteith.

Some of the priority areas included in the memorandum are:

  • Student Support Services: Supporting students socially and emotionally to make sure they have the support services they need to go to school while living away from home;
  • Independent Education Plans: Supporting students in the form of strategies and professional mentorship so that students with special needs can be identified and an education plan catered to them is developed;
  • Curriculum: Developing curriculums and implementation strategies to enhance the inclusion and integration of First Nations history, culture, perspective and language for all students in both First Nation and provincially operated schools;
  • Professional Development: Developing strategies to facilitate cross-cultural training and professional development for educators in the provincial education system;
  • Communication: Improve communication between provincially funded public schools in Ontario and the First Nations schools;

"After three years of meetings and negotiations, the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board has proudly signed the official memorandum of understanding with Windigo First Nations Council," Monteith said in Thursday's statement.

"Keewatin-Patricia will now proudly add Windigo to its successful Indigenous partnerships that will improve the lives of children."

This is the seventh MOU the northwestern Ontario public board, which has schools in many communities including Kenora, Dryden, Ignace, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake, has signed with Indigenous nations, councils and education organizations.