Manitoba Government Launches Indigenous Education Policy Framework and Invests $1.6 Million to Expand Elders and Knowledge Keepers in Schools Initiative

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[April 28, 2022] The Manitoba government is launching Mamàhtawisiwin: The Wonder We Are Born With – An Indigenous Education Policy Framework and investing $1.6 million to expand the Elders and Knowledge Keepers in Schools Initiative, Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko announced today during an event at Niji Mahkwa School in Winnipeg.

“Our government’s deep commitment to Truth and Reconciliation is embodied in these programs,” said Ewasko. “The framework is intended to support educators by helping them embed Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing into their teaching practices and deepen their understanding and progress along a path of Truth and Reconciliation in their school communities. Mamàhtawisiwin is an important component of Manitoba’s K to 12 Education Action Plan, a roadmap developed in response to the recommendations from the Commission on Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education. The Manitoba government is committed to building an education system where all Manitoba students succeed, no matter where they live, their background or their individual circumstances.”

Mamàhtawisiwin’s seven guiding principles provide the foundation for the provincial Indigenous Education Policy Framework that guides the actions at all levels in the kindergarten to Grade 12 education system. The foundations of this Indigenous-inclusive education system are articulated through four policy directions:

  • authentic involvement;
  • putting students at the centre;
  • understanding world views, values, identities, traditions and contemporary lifestyles; and
  • inclusive and culturally safe learning environments.

Mamàhtawisiwin’s Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing: Action Toward Truth and Reconciliation outlines roles and responsibilities for students, teachers, school-based support teams, school leaders, school division and district leaders, and Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning to support these policy directions.

The framework was developed in partnership with over 100 individuals from across the province, including Elders and Knowledge Keepers, students, teachers, superintendents, post-secondary, early childhood educators and community partners.

Ongoing advice, guidance and recommendations have been provided by the Indigenous Inclusion Directorate Advisory Council (IIDAC), which provides advice to the director of the Indigenous Inclusion Directorate on matters related to initiatives and action areas within nursery to Grade 12 education.

In addition to launching this new Indigenous education policy framework, the government announced it is investing $1.6 million toward the expansion of the Elders and Knowledge Keepers in Schools Initiative, Ewasko noted.

“Elders and Knowledge Keepers share traditional knowledge, teaching practices and protocols to enhance the connection between families and schools, and also provide supports to create a culture of understanding and respect,” said Ewasko. “This initiative supports respectful and relational engagement with Elders and Knowledge Keepers to embed Indigenous world views across curricula, instruction, assessment and within mental health and well-being programming.”

The initiative supports students, educators and families to learn First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories, languages and cultures, traditional values and knowledge systems, and contemporary lifestyles.

These initiatives are reflective of the government’s responsibilities under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action number 62, which identifies education as being a key component to reconciliation, noted the minister.

“It is wonderful news for those involved: principals, teachers, students and of course the Elders and Knowledge Keepers as this puts reconciliation into action,” said Starlett Beardy, co-chair, IIDAC. “Not only are teachers stepping into community, community is stepping into school. Elders and Knowledge Keepers carry sacred knowledge all students can benefit from. I am so honoured to be a part of this time in our history where we are making the change together. I have waited for this my whole life.”

“Indigenous pedagogy is good pedagogy and Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing benefits all,” said Angela Fey, co-chair, IIDAC.

For more information on Mamàhtawisiwin, visit: https://edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/action_plan/mamahtawisiwin.html.

For more information on the Elders and Knowledge Keepers in Schools Initiative, visit: https://edu.gov.mb.ca/iid/elders.html.

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