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Assistant Deputy Minister Visits, Sees Benefits of FNMI Grant

An Innovation in First Nations Education grant from Alberta Education has allowed Livingstone Range School Division to provide meaningful programming and resources for students across the division. On January 10, 2023 Lisa Higgerty, Assistant Deputy Minister of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education Directorate visited with LRSD senior leadership, school administrators, Blackfoot Elders, and students to see first-hand the positive impact of the grant funding. 

With the funding from the Innovation in First Nations Education grant, Livingstone Range School Division has been able to contract Elders in Residence to provide significant, ongoing wisdom and guidance to division leadership and students. Elders Joe Eagle Tail Feathers, Morris and Betty Ann Little Wolf, and Sheldon Day Chief share traditional indigenous teachings, support the Blackfoot Culture Series class, participate in special school-based activities and programs, and meet regularly with LRSD Trustees. 

Grant funding has also helped provide a land-based camp in partnership with Actua (a STEM education outreach organization) for Matthew Halton High School students in May 2022. This first land-based camp provided exceptional indigenous hands-on learning experiences for students. It proved so successful that future land-based camps are planned to allow even more students this opportunity. 

With the grant money, Livingstone Range School Division has also invested in creating Blackfoot resources for “Building Brains Together” with the University of Lethbridge as well as working with a community partner to publish Blackfoot language books.

“This grant has opened up our perspective on the connections we can make for all students from a real and authentic place,” says Richard Feller, Associate Superintendent of Human and  Learning  Services. “It is powerful to begin to understand and create the necessary connections to the land and its original peoples.”

The visit from Assistant Deputy Minister Higgerty at W.A. Day Elementary School and F.P. Walshe School was a great opportunity to share the excellent First Nations, Métis, and Inuit work being done in our jurisdiction. But discussions went further, with LRSD administrators and Blackfoot leaders asking for easier access to provincial grant money and more reliable funding to support the initiatives and work already underway. The need is great and schools are in an excellent position to help facilitate real change in the lives of children.

For more information about First Nations, Metis, and Inuit programming and supports in our schools, visit our website or reach out to Joel Gamache, LRSD First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Success Supervisor.

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