Millions pledged to Métis education project at Pinehouse

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On Friday, the federal government pledged nearly $3 million for a new Métis education program as a once “forgotten” community takes control of the teaching of its languages ​​and culture.

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Federal Family Minister Karina Gould said the money will be used to fund the Miyo Kiskinahamatowin ashi Sitokatowin: Be careful Teach and support our children program, which aims to foster Métis language and culture for young families in Pinehouse Lake as the children enter their first years of school.

“The ultimate goal is to improve children’s early development and school readiness,” Gould said.

Federal Minister Karina Gould speaks to the media at an early learning conference hosted by the Métis Nation Saskatchewan in Saskatoon on Friday, April 29, 2022.
Federal Minister Karina Gould speaks to the media at an early learning conference hosted by the Métis Nation Saskatchewan in Saskatoon on Friday, April 29, 2022. Photo by Matt Smith /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

Gould made the announcement Friday at the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan’s early learning and child care conference, which stressed the importance of passing on the language and tradition of Métis elders to children.

Over the past several years, MN—S has entered into agreements with local school districts and provincial partners to provide early childhood education in the Dene and Michif languages ​​in 11 schools across the province, including approximately 300 children.

MN—S Early Learning and Child Care Minister Tim Roussin said the goal is to offer these courses in all 12 Métis regions of the province by next year.

“Through this program, our elders share their gift of language and knowledge with our children, families and communities,” Roussin said. His own mother was punished for speaking Michif at school, in stark contrast to how learning the language is encouraged today, he said.

“It just shows that we are no longer forgotten. We are here. We are present. We do things our way,” MN-S Minister of Child and Family Services Kathy Pruden said.

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Gould said the $3 million came from a federal investment of $100 million for early education projects in Indigenous communities.

A spokeswoman for MN—S said the project will work with “significant numbers of families in the community for an extended period” with the goal of improving early development and fostering Métis identity. Gould said the project could serve as a test to see if similar initiatives could yield benefits in other Métis communities in Saskatchewan, or the country as a whole.

“It’s this interaction and engagement between elders, young children and their families that I think will make this program a success,” she said.

The 2021 federal budget provided $2.5 billion for Indigenous-led child care and early learning programs. That same budget also introduced a $30 billion project to expand access to child care nationwide, with the goal of reaching as low as $10 a day in partner provinces and territories.

MN—S President Glen McCallum said projects like the one started at Pinehouse Lake help reverse the harm done by the residential school system that sought to rob Indigenous peoples of their culture.

“For me, it’s a happy moment. But my mom, my dad won’t be able to see it,” McCallum said. “…I don’t want to live in the past, but we can’t forget the past. »

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