Three historical education agreements signed at James Smith

Three historical education agreements were signed at Bernard Constant Community School on James Smith Cree Nation during a Pow Wow on Thursday, May 25.

The three Education Agreements formalized a partnership with the East Central First Nations Education Partnership (ECFNEP), Indigenous Services Canada, the North East School Division (NESD) and the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division (SRPSD).

The Agreements commit all the parties to work together to improve education outcomes for youth at the Chakastaypasin Band, James Smith Cree Nation and the Peter Chapman Band and for students of the three First Nations that attend off-reserve schools in nearby school divisions.

“By the end of this entire process, I can relate our relationship to a braid of sweetgrass,” Randy Constant, Director of Education for the East Central First Nations Education Partnership said in a press release. “Like the three strands that make up the braid of sweetgrass, so too do these Education Services Agreements serve the needs of our students and community stakeholders. This renewed relationship will bring forth understanding and sustainability as we move together in our educational pursuit.”

ECFNEP board chair Camillia Sanderson, NESD vice chair of trustees Marla Walton, and Sask. Rivers board chair Darlene Rowden all signed the agreement, as did the education directors of all three divisions and the staff responsible for finances.

The Education Services Agreements serve as both a tuition agreement and a formal Partnership between these entities, with the goal of providing an increased quality of education and services and adding transparency to the financial side of things.

Sask. Rivers education director Robert Bratvold was one of the signees. He said the signings were very significant.

“I think we’ve had long and strong relationships with lots of First Nations communities, but this is the first one where we formalized it into an education services agreement,” Bratvold explained. “It’s important because through the process we built lots of strong relationships and understanding and found lots of mutual goals and targets.”

Bratvold said one important part is the work that all parties are doing for education of youth on James Smith.

“The actual agreement addresses lots of different things around the kinds of services that we provide as a school vision, the kinds of ways we manage those, and then plans for our organizations to meet regularly,” he added.

“People talk about these as tuition agreements, and this includes elements of that, but it’s far broader than that. One of the most important things, I think, within it is that reciprocity. We’ve got provincial students who are interested in attending the community school on James Smith Cree Nation, then there’s a capacity for us to organize for that too.”

Bernard Constant School is a half-hour north of Kinistino where a Sask. Rivers School is located. Between 10 and 20 students from James Smith attend the school every year.

“Maybe their parents are working somewhere or whatever, so they come to our school in this area and so this reciprocity was important,” Bratvold explained.

He added that if students want to go in the other direction they have that ability. Bratvold said it broadens educational opportunities.

To have the signing take place at the Pow Wow was important to Bratvold.

“I think the, the signing of it was significant in terms of it was part of a ceremonial piece. It started with the elders and lifting the pipes and the ceremony and then they followed with the Pow Wow,” he said.

The NESD and Sask Rivers have committed to several matters in these agreements to improve the experience of the First Nations students attending their schools, including support for students with special needs, the creation of a formal First Nations and Métis Advisory Council, or an Elder’s Council, and annual or as needed meetings between the School Divisions and the ECFNEP to discuss any issues and events.

“The North East School Division is proud to mark a significant milestone for our organization. The Education Services Agreement represent a partnership with the East Central First Nations Education Partnership that began with a need to find equitable ways to support families and resulted in uncovering collaborative and strategic plans for the NESD to strengthen our ability to decolonize,” Lair said. “We are grateful for the sharing and the time spent with the ECFNEP.”

Through these agreements, a strong working relationship has been formed, which can only lead to more improvements to the education of the youth in these communities.

The Education Authority Agreement was signed by Sanderson and Constant of the East Central First Nations Education Partnership (ECFNEP) and by Rob Harvey, Regional Director General of the Saskatchewan Region of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

The Agreement signed between the ECFNEP and ISC maintains the Treaty Right to Education. The Agreement has a term of five years which commences on July 1, 2023, and expires on July 1, 2028, unless extended or terminated earlier.

Through this Agreement, the ECFNEP will continue to create a professional and independent First Nations Education System for students, that will improve student outcomes, and at a minimum, meet or exceed provincial standards. Canada will provide consistent and stable funding that will give the ECFNEP the right and ability to decide the direction and quality of education for their students and make tuition agreements with other school divisions.

Pollinator garden project in Prince Albert is hands-on learning

A Prince Albert Sask Polytech campus student hopes to generate some buzz with a pollinator garden project in the city.

Tucker James is using hands-on learning and applied research by creating a pollinator garden as part of the Integrated Resource Management diploma program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. James came up with the idea while working at the Prince Albert National Park over two summers. The project is a requirement for graduation, and must receive approval from an instructor who oversees it.

“I was working for Parks Canada on the resource conservation team,” James explained. “We were building some pollinator gardens for the park in order to boost biodiversity and make people aware of the role of native plants in an ecosystem.

“That was how I got the idea for it. I put the idea forward to my plant taxonomy teacher Joanne Marchand, and she agreed to be my project supervisor.”

James then met with the City of Prince Albert and they agreed to help. He also received permission to use garden space from the Prince Albert Food Bank. The Food Bank has public garden plots by Holy Cross School at the corner of 15th Avenue and 15th Street.

“It’s planted like a regular garden, like people have in their yards or a fence to be a display, but it utilizes entirely native species that are found within Saskatchewan that grow in the wild here,” James explained. “(It’s) mostly prairie plants, mostly from like south of the boreal forest and it’s kind of meant to be a supplement for biodiversity.”

The garden provides habitat and food for pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds

“They’re important to the ecosystem, and by putting all these flowers out for them, it’s providing a food source and other benefits to them. It’s also a way to kind of make people aware of what species are local to Saskatchewan and how exposed and grow well in gardens,” James said.

“It’s a really nice way to combine conservation with a hobby that a lot of people do.”

James initially planted the flowers in his garage in March to get a jump on the growing season. Starting them indoors meant the outdoor garden began with bigger plants.

James had to “cold stratify” the seeds by storing them in a damp environment in the fridge for six weeks. This mimics the early spring conditions, and lets them know it’s time to start growing.

“When we plant them they’ll grow faster and hopefully flower sooner,” he explained.

James plans to further his education at the University of Regina, majoring in environmental biology. An agreement between the post-secondary institutions allows graduates of Sask Polytech’s two-year Integrated Resource Management diploma program to transfer into the third year of the University of Regina’s four-year environmental biology degree to continue their education.

He explained that he wanted to do something in a field that focused on plants, but he wants to see where his education can take him.

“What I’m really interested in is our plant communities in Saskatchewan,” he explained. “Prairie plants really interest me, and so this is a really good hands-on way to learn about what kind of plants we have in the province, (and) what ecological role they fulfill, and just learn more about botany and plant taxonomy in a really cool hands-on way.”

James said he may specialize in plants, but he is interested in every facet of biology.

He also thanked his project advisor Joanne Marchand, Tim Yeaman and the City of Prince Albert,  

Kim Scruby and the Prince Albert Food Bank, Chet Neufeld and the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan for donating seeds, Lisa and Renny Grilz from Blazing Start for providing seeds and seedlings and Louise Hudon for providing milkweed plants.

Catholic Division approves new three-year Strategic Plan

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division has approved their new three-year Strategic Plan during their regular meeting on Monday.

The three-year plan was passed at the same time as the division’s budget and after over a year of work and feedback in the division.

Director of education Lorel Trumier said that they passed the two items in the same meeting because they needed to have a budget passed to fund the plan itself.

The Strategic Plan covers the years 2023-2026 and will officially come into effect at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

“I need to make sure that the board understands and wants what we’ve derived as the best strategic direction of our school division and I wanted to make sure that that’s where that’s heading,” Trumier explained.

The provincial education plan is still under development, but Trumier doesn’t expect major differences between that plan and the Prince Albert Catholic School Division one.

“It’s aligned with the provincial education plan in terms of the priority areas of the province,” she explained. “What falls in behind that, of course, is we have got to fund the plan and it’s increasingly more difficult to fund our strategic plan and the provincial plan.”

One example of where the plan aligns with the still to be completed provincial plan is mental health and wellbeing, which the province does not appear to be supporting.

“There’s very little resources that are being submitted in budgets for that plan and we’re concerned about that. But the little that we can do, we will. And we’ll do our best to do well for our children. So, I think that’s a prime example of where what we set out in our strategic plan will move forward because we’ve put some resources behind it,” Trumier said.

Trumier added that she is excited about the plan and the good work that went into creating it.

“We’ve found some strategic ways to do that that won’t cost us more money,” she said. “We are doing things to understand the learning journey of children better as it relates to the different areas that we’ve set out.”.

The cover of the plan was designed by Prince Albert artist Leah Dorion. The tree she designed is a symbolic representation of what the plan tries to do.

“We are looking for growth and of course she equated it to the Giving Tree that she’s painted and has set out for us. We said there are there’s the core of our work, which is understanding our faith, a journey through the work that we do,” Trumier explained.

From that growth comes opportunities to look at how do we learn and how can we have academic achievement and social emotional growth through the next three years.

The transitions that Trumier discussed was moving between grades and finishing high school and going forward into work life.

“We’re looking at some work in those areas as well as inspiring success for all of our students, including our indigenous students, and Metis students in our school division,” Trumier said.

The plan was built through feedback from staff, SCCs and aligned to the new provincial plan.

“It’s exciting that like we’re excited about our new strategic plan and it came from our staff, so very grassroots oriented about what do Grade1 teachers want to work on? What do the Grade 5 teachers want to work on? And how do we get better at what we’re doing and how do we help our children through their journeys through these aspects,” Trumier said.

“We’re really excited. It’s a significant amount of work that we’ve set out in the next three years, but we’re focused and ready to go and we’re ready to launch this in the fall,” she added.

Catholic Division reluctantly uses reserves to balance budget

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division passed a balanced budget for 2023-2024 by dipping into their reserves.

The board of education made the decision during their meeting on Monday evening. Education Director Lorel Trumier said that they voted to use their reserves reluctantly.

“We’re balancing that with the reserves and that is our largest concern because there is no ability to regain reserve,” Trumier said.

She added that it was necessary to ensure students still have the best programming and education experiences that they are used to.

“I think of we’re going to still attempt to have the technology that our children are used to and continue to maintain and sustain and improve our technological opportunities for students,” Trumier said.

“We’re making very definitive decisions on those (resources),” she added. “There are places in that preparation of our budget where we know that we’re just not funded adequately for.”

A major example of a change in budgeting is the use of site licensing for educational materials. Trumier said more textbook publishers are moving to online site licensing as a mode of delivery. That means the school division has to pay a fee every year, instead of paying a one-time cost for a physical textbook.

“That’s one of those places where we need funding to reflect that kind of element that’s happening in the world around us,’ Trumier said. “It’s not something the school division’s making decision on.”

Trumier said that with other divisions in the province entering a similar or worse dilemma, she hopes the province will come through.

“That’s why we’re proposing the budget that were proposing,” she explained. “We’re hoping the Ministry of Education and the government assesses what’s happening across the province. We know school division across the province are, are very much struggling to make their ends meet.

“There is a surplus in this province that we want them to invest in our children and their children’s education and let’s hope that that’s what can come through.”

The board looked at different options to achieve a balanced budget. Budget numbers provided by Chief Financial Officer Greg McEwen show the Catholic Division expects $34,397,823 in revenue. Most of that revenue will come from the Ministry of Education’s annual grant. The provincial grant is $27,711,711.

The total expenditures budgeted for 2023-2024 is $34,950,103 with a projected deficit of approximately $550,000. Even after making cash position adjustments the division still had a deficit of over $1 million. Therefore, the administration proposed to make up the difference by using reserves and unrestricted surplus.

The unrestricted surplus used to get to balance was $99,279. Some examples of reserves used to get to balance were the PMR restricted reserve, ELIS restricted reserve, classroom equipment and supplies reserve and the other students needs reserve, among others.

This year, the division budgeted $24,225,598 for Instruction which includes teacher salaries, EA salaries and includes resources for students.

When the budget passed trustee Darryl Sandee noted that they passed the budget reluctantly.

“I think this board is very interested in doing the best we can for our students and our children, because we take the responsibility of educating their children very seriously and ensuring that the fiscal decisions we make are responsible decisions,” Trumier said.

“I think that the board is taking that very seriously and, and reluctantly using reserves to do it,” she added.

Trumier said they want to be able to have an impact on students now.

“You can’t not use those resources for the purpose of educating our children. We want to do that well,” Trumier said.

McEwen explained that the division is mid-sized in relation to other divisions and doesn’t have much for reserves. When he was asked by trustees if this type of budgeting is sustainable he said it was for upwards of two years.

Because the board was passing a Strategic Plan in the meeting the budget had to be done at the same time as the two matters are related with the plan funded by the budget.

Lions’ Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides raises $2,500

The Third Annual Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides was the most successful yet as it raised $2,500.75 on Sunday along the Rotary Trail.

The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides raises funds to help Lions Foundation of Canada continue to provide Dog Guides for Canadians with disabilities at no cost to them, and support each pair in their journey together.

Prince Albert Lions Club President Garry Beaudry explained that the club also treats it as their major fundraiser before summer.

“Like everybody else, all our Lions clubs and our major donors and whatnot throughout the year all turn into cabin and lake goers during the summer. We still have our operations that need funding, so that’s why we have our major fundraiser at this time,” Beaudry said.

There were 10 people physically registered for the walk, but Beaudry had taken donations online from people who could not attend physically. Along with dogs in the walk, there was also one cat in a stroller who visited with dogs in the park during the registration.

The walk started at 15th Avenue and River Street and walkers could go as far as the Elks Club or walkers could turn around. Participants who went the full distance walked four kilometres before returning for hot dogs and hamburgers.

Beaudry isn’t just the President of the Prince Albert Lions Club but also the Saskatchewan representative on the board of directors for the Lions Foundation of Canada and will be traveling to Ontario in June for their next meeting.

Providing dog guides to residents in need is very important to Beaudry.

“It enables our clients to get out into the community and live a life that the rest of us all take for granted,” Beaudry said. “Can you imagine being a sight impaired person. Even when we walk down the street, because if you step off the curb, you don’t even know the curbs coming. (If) I step off (and) a vehicle is coming, you’ve got a dog by your side that’ll stop. The dog knows. The dog is paying attention to their surroundings.”
Another example of support is for people who are prone to seizures. Beaudry said they can’t go for a walk by themselves, but seizure-alert dogs are trained to get them help and stay with them if they have trouble.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides walkers posed for a photo before the walk began down Rotary Trail on Sunday.

“If the dog doesn’t get a response from the handler, he goes looking for help and he’ll bring it all back to the house,” Beaudry explained.

The local Pet Valu was on hand to support the event with dog treats for the walkers and a draw.

“Their support is national there’s probably 350 that are happening today, and Pet Valu is our major sponsor for all of them,” Beaudry said.

Because they are the national sponsor, the event is called the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides in support of the Lions Dog Guides.

“The local support here by the Pet Valu store is super cool,” Beaudry said. “They’re setting up a table. They’re going to be handing out treats for the dogs and there’s also a basket that will be drawn for free.”

Beaudry explained that he had up to 40 donation forms out and initially wasn’t sure how many walkers he expected to register. The event is continuing to grow, however.

“Last year we had five, so every year (we are ) growing. This is our third year of attempting it here in P.A.,” Beaudry said.

The event raised significantly more than the $1,770 they raised in 2022. Before registration even began, they were at $1,400.

Beaudry said the event couldn’t have been a success without the sponsors. Because of the local business donations, the barbecue that followed, there was no cost to the Lions Club.

“(It’s) because of our local businesses, which is super,” Beaudry said. “I really want to thank them.”

Walk for Alzheimer’s raises awareness with first outdoor Walk


Kinsmen Park was the new home for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s on Saturday afternoon. Traditionally it has been in January at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse but this year they made a change.

Laura Erickson the first link coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Society of Saskatchewan or Prince Albert said that they expected around 30 walkers for the afternoon.

“I mean, this is the first year we’ve done it outside. So that’s a change,” Erickson said.

“We’ve always done the inside of the Alfred Jenkins centre in January for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. But we have a corporate sponsor, IG Wealth Management, and they prefer that we do them all at once the same weekend,” Erickson said.

Erickson explained that this was the first time with the new format and month and was happy with the change.

“It’s lovely. It’s great to be outside. It’s, it’s a great connection. It’s a central location and it’s a great location,” Erickson said.

The goal of the walk is of course to fundraise but according to Erickson it is more about awareness.

“Money helps programs and services. That helps with information. It helps with research, but mostly it’s to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease-related dementias doesn’t just affect the person that gets that diagnosis,” Erickson said.

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis affects not only the person diagnosed but the family and the community.

Before the walk began there were speeches by Erickson, Rupert Bremner of IG Wealth Management and Bonnie Link discussed why she walks and how an Alzheimer’s diagnosis affected her life.

The walkers were also led in a stretching exercise as part of the opening ceremony.

There was also a moment of silence before the walk officially began after everyone lined up.

“So this is just a way for the community to gather and honour those folks,” she said.

With over 30 people in attendance to walk she was pleased for the awareness that would raise.

“And to have people talking about Alzheimer’s disease is just huge because there is still very much a stigma attached to it because. Who wants that, Right? Yeah. It’s just having that awareness and raising some money. And of course this year, again, Malcolm Jenkins is matching to $20,000,” Erickson said.

She described the matching of funds by Jenkins as phenomenal.

“ The more we can get it out there. Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect the person with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia,” Erickson said.

After being led by a Pipe Band the walk then went around Kinsmen Park.

Bodnarchuk officially recognized as 2022 Prince Albert Citizen of the Year

Music, science, culture, dance, lists and a hat all are part of what made Marj Bodnarchuk the 2022 Prince Albert City of the Year.

Bodnarchuk was recognized with her formal Citizen of the Year Banquet at the Coronet Hotel on Friday evening. She was surprised by the scope of the presentations and honours she received.

“I didn’t realize that there was actual awards and things like that. I just knew there was people and supper and speeches and friends and fun,” Bodnarchuk said.

Bodnarchuk’s volunteering stretches across a wide variety of cultural and community organizations. She said volunteering with groups like Veselka are fun ways to give back. Her volunteering stretches from cultural organizations to music and science.

“I don’t really think of how much I have been involved in because it’s just something I do,” she said. “It’s just regular life and I really do enjoy that life where I can participate and help out and work with others and get things done, accomplish things.

“It’s just so great to live in a community like this. There are so many people who are dedicated to so many things and they are so conscientious and wonderful to work with,” she added.

Bodnarchuk was happy to see so many former Citizens of the Year in attendance. She said they are a really solid group of people who continue to contribute a lot to the community.

With friends, family and people from across her life in attendance. Bodnarchuk said she enjoyed the celebration.
“What a wonderful evening,” she said. “This is the way to celebrate with wonderful friends whose hearts are full of love and caring and dedication to their community.”

The emcee for the evening was former Citizen of the Year Lyle Karasiuk, whose mother Olga Karasiuk nominated Bodnarchuk. At the head table were Kinsmen President Jean-Marc Beliveau, Daily Herald Publisher Donna Pfeil, Karasiuk and Bodnarchuk and her husband John Bodnarchuk.

The first speaker of the evening was friend Jan Olesko who has worked with Bodnarchuk on both Veselka and the Prince Albert Science Centre.

Olesko described Bodnarchuk as a rock during tough times.

“When the world is overwhelming, you tie yourself to Marj,” Olesko said.

Olesko said that Bodnarchuk is always prepared. Whenever they need something at a meeting, she always seems to be able to reach in her purse and find what is needed.

“During one of our Prince Albert Science Centre meetings there was a request. ‘Excuse me does anybody have any tape or scissors,” Olesko said.

After that Bodnarchuk raised her hand and went into her purse and found the objects. On another occasion, they needed a wrench to fix a running toilet and Bodnarchuk reached in her purse and found one because she had been at Canadian Tire that day.

Bodnarchuk was introduced by her daughter Paula Diekma. Diekma congratulated the organizers from the Herald, Science Centre and Kinsmen for being able to actually surprise her when the award was announced in April.

Kinsmen member Wes Moore, on behalf of City Council who were unable to attend due to prior commitments, presented Bodnarchuk with recognition from the City along with a City of Prince Albert Award of Merit.

Belibeau presented Bodnarchuk with the Citizen of the Year plaque. Daily Herald Publisher Donna Pfeil presented Bodnarchuk with a framed image from the Daily Herald when she was named Citizen of the Year earlier this year.

Bodnarchuk was nominated for the award by Olga Karasiuk who chose her son Lyle to make the speech for her. Karasiuk noted in her remarks that it was because of the Prince Albert Polkafest that she saw all that Bodnarchuk could do.

During her own speech, Bodnarchuk presented Olga with a Hope rock in the colours of the flag of Ukraine.

Pfeil, Prince Albert Northcote MLA Alana Ross and Kinsmen Club president Jean-Marc Beliveau each gave speeches recognizing all that Bodnarchuk has done as a volunteer.

Also on hand were former Citizen of the Year honorees Kris Eggum, Bob Casgrain on behalf of his father Maurice Casgrain, Mitch Holash, Malcolm Jenkins, Dr. Lalita Malholtra, Frank Moore, Harris May and Karasiuk.

Bodnarchuk is not only known for her community volunteering. She also stands out as the ‘Hat Lady’ for always wearing her black hat and the origin comes from a practical place.

“When I was a little girl in Southern Saskatchewan my mother always wanted us to wear hats because in the summer it gets very hot and in the other seasons it was very windy and very cold,” she said. “We grew up wearing hats winter toques, and sun hats in the summer and cowboy hats and straw hats and all sorts of hats.”

When she was in high school the family did not really wear hats in the community, but they did at home.

“Then I went into nursing and at that point nurses wore caps and I spent my career at Holy Family Hospital wearing a nurses cap. I wore it to the very last day the hospital was open,” Bodnarchuk said.

The reason to wear a hat come from a place of practicality and health.

“In the wintertime I always wore hats anyway and then in the summertime I would wear a sun hat or a straw hat. Now it helps keeps me warm because your head can lose so much heat and in the summer, they keep it cool because too much heat without a hat you get heatstroke,” Bodnarchuk said.

She added that it something that just feels right to her.

“I tie mine on with a string because it gets windy and I don’t want my hat to go away and everybody should consider how wonderful it is to wear a hat,” Bodnarchuk said.

The Citizen of the Year Award has been handed out every year since 1958. Winners are chosen by a committee that includes members of the Prince Albert Kinsmen Club and Prince Albert Daily Herald.

Recent Citizen of the Year winners:

2021- Marie Mathers

2020 – Margaret Ferguson

2019 – Janet Carriere

2018 – Felix Casavant and Derek Smith

2017 – Ron and Shelley Horn

2016 – Sheryl Kimbley

2015 – Duane Hayunga

Heart of the Youth Community Pow Wow grows in size and inclusion

The Heart of the Youth Community Pow Wow just keeps growing and the visitors keep expanding.

The annual event returned to Kinsmen Park on Friday afternoon Elder and organizing committee member Liz Settee was excited to have the event see so many people come to the park.

“(It’s) another amazing year,” Settee said. “We had the pipe ceremony start a little bit late and we could hear jingles as people were arriving. We came out and the park was just full of people. It was just amazing. Amazing.”

Nearly 4,000 people attended Friday’s powwow, including students from schools in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division, Northern Lights School Division and Prince Albert Catholic School Division, among others. There were also visitors from a Calvary United church conference, and visitors from B.C.

The day began with a water main break on the back part of the field and wet grounds prevented the committee from raising the big red tent, which was replaced by several smaller tents

“I call it a geyser,” Settee said.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald There were several drum groups at the Heart of the Youth Community Pow Wow in Kinsmen Park on Friday morning.

“I’d like to thank the city of Prince Albert for being on the ball and fixing that geyser that water main break this morning. Tim Yeaman and the crew for the Park City parks and everything, they have been amazing.”

After rain all week the weather on Friday morning was perfect.

“That worked out. A lot of prayers went into that. A lot of prayers,” she said.

Heart of the Youth has several aims, but one of the biggest is helping First Nations and Metis youth get in touch with their culture. Settee said many elders believe it’s important to help Indigenous youth understand their history and traditions.

The day began with a Grand Entry and speeches from representatives from the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division, Prince Albert Catholic School Division, and the numerous sponsors and partners of the event.

They have now removed gender identifiers from dances, so they were simply shawl, traditional, Jingle or any other type of dance. Settee said this was because everyone is welcome in the circle and has gifts and talents.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald An Intertribal dance packed the dance area at the Heart of the Youth Community Pow Wow in Kinsmen Park on Friday morning.

“Any circle that I do, anybody is welcome,” she said. “We need connection. We need human connection and we need to learn from other people as well.”

Arius Toews, who is 12-year-old and attends Ecole St. Anne’s dances Jingle Dress and has been dancing for three years. Toews uses they/them pronounces, and said the pow wow’s openness and inclusion was important to them.

“I like how it sounds, how I love people who says them/them,” Toews said. “Some people now say they/them when they don’t know someone’s gender and I feel like it’s starting to become a safe space for us.”

Toews said that the whole day was fun for everyone.

Settee said welcoming everyone is important. She explained that one teaching she had from the late Elder Leonard Cardinal is that everyone is welcome in the circle.

“We learned (the) Creator gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, so we listen more than we talk and we have to listen to people to get an understanding of where they’re coming from. We can’t do that if we’re not together,” Settee said.

One thing Settee loves about the Pow Wow is that it can bring everybody together. The event drew attendees from daycares, seniors homes, and even a few homeless residents.

“Like everything we have had, everything and everyone are welcome and everyone can talk,” Settee said.

Settee hopes to see the Pow Wow get bigger and become even more inclusive.

“We need to come together as a community and Prince Albert and work together,” she said.

She estimated that there were 4,000 people in the park.

“I think we’re up around 4,000 this year. My goal is to reach 5,000 some day,” Settee said.

“The first Pow Wow was in 2018 and it’s grown since then, which makes my heart happy, and to see the school, the youth from the schools, the different schools that have come out and are participating in the dancing and everything like that.

“Thanks to the teachers for bringing them. I know it’s all extra work for them and trying to keep track of them and everything.”

Settee also thanked the numerous sponsors and volunteers who make the event a success.

“We definitely couldn’t have done this without them. Definitely. It takes a lot of people and a lot of coordination to get you guys going, but it’s definitely worth that when you see that many people here coming together and hear this many jingles.”

The powwow would not be possible without the generous support of the following community sponsors:

Prince Albert Urban Indigenous Coalition, Canadian Association for Community Education (CACE), Northern Lights Casino, SIGA, Broda Group, PAGC, SaskPower, Lake Country Co-Op, City of PA and the Municipal Cultural Action Plan (MCAP), Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division, Prince Albert Catholic School Division, First Nations University Northern Campus Student Association, 2Spirits in Motion Society, Prince Albert Indian Metis Friendship Centre, Ranch Erhlo Society, SUNTEP, Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Save on Foods, Superior Diesel, Missinipi Broadcasting and All My Relations Photography.

International guests attend Heart of the Youth Pow Wow


The Heart of the Youth Pow Wow on Friday in Kinsmen Park had several guests in attendance including a cultural exchange of academic researchers in Indigenous life.

Shawana Andrews from Australia and Dr. Hinekura Smith from New Zealand were invited to attend the Pow Wow. The duo are on a cultural exchange, and came to Prince Albert after connecting with colleagues at the University of Regina. They engage in cultural practices to support their research, and wanted to see the Heart of the Youth Pow Wow firsthand.

Both Smith and Andrews were impressed by the Heart of the Youth Pow Wow.

“It’s wonderful, I mean you have young people, we have adults, there are Elders. I think stepping into such a new space it’s important just to stop and to feel and to observe,” Smith said.

“We talked a lot last night and it’s incredibly important for us to be respectful and move and write in proper ways in this space. We are incredibly grateful to the committee and particularly these amazing young leaders and youths who have been out to guide us and give us advice in this space, it would be inappropriate just to walk in here,” she added.

Andrews was amazed by the Indigenous culture on display at the Pow Wow.

“This has been wonderful, we don’t really have something like this in Australia where this many people gather to engage in ceremony,” she ­­said.

“For me seeing these young people, the heart of the youth is what this is for, so to see these young people walking around with their chins up, walking in their culture with pride and reclaiming their culture in a public space is empowering.”

Andrews is a Trawlwoolway Palawa woman who researches social health and wellbeing at the University of Melbourne. Smith is Maori and focuses on education research at the University of Auckland.

Andrews said Indigenous people have similarities that go beyond how they were treated by colonial powers, and it’s important to focus on those stories as well.

“As indigenous people globally, we are scholars, we are scientists, we have a long intellectual tradition, and so finding similarities and ways to connect in the context of those traditions is really important,” she said.

“As Indigenous people, everything that we do is about wellbeing and about transformative practice and work for the wellbeing of people,” Smith added. “We all three come from colonized and oppressed experiences and histories.”

Smith said they seen similarities and differences in Indigenous cultures as they’ve toured through Saskatchewan. Both were grateful to receive and invitation to view the Heart of the Youth Pow Wow in Prince Albert.

“It’s been a privilege to be invited to this and to experience this,” Smith said.

Other guests included representatives from the Living Skies Regional Council Annual Meeting which is being hosted by Calvary United Church.

Decolonization is part of the culture at Riverside School

Ribbon skirt sewing classes, jigging groups, and culture camps are among the ways a Prince Albert elementary school is trying to decolonize the classroom.

Riverside School principal Leanne Tretiak said many traditional education tools, resources, and experiences are Eurocentric, and the school wants to change that.

“Well, looking at it and seeing (if) our children represented in these resources,” Tretiak said. “Do they see themselves in their resources, in the stories we’re reading, in the things we’re doing? How do they see them in their current lives, in the culture that they’re living right now in their day-to-day life, but also in their historic family?”

“We work hard to do that each day and embed it in what we do all the time. It is from the activities that we’ve planned for the kids of course and the learning experiences, but it’s also looking at the resources we use,” she added.

Tretiak is in her fourth year at Riverside. She said the school’s strong staff helps to build the culture that thinks outside the box.

“We have an incredibly strong staff that’s passionate,” she explained. “They are passionate about what they do … (and) I find that that brings a special kind of quality to the work that they do. I also have several staff who are very connected to their traditional culture and background heritage as well so that also helps us to decolonize education.”

Riverside School Photo Sewing Ribbon Skirts and shirts is just one example of how Riverside School works to decolonize education.

Tretiak said they’ve also tried to expand the list of speakers who give school presentations as a way to increase students’ cultural knowledge.

“We try to find a person who can bring some traditional teachings with them, as well as being an expert in their field,” Tretiak said. “If we are looking at making connections in our community, who are our Indigenous partners that we might be able to partner with first as well as we can partner with other people, of course we do.”

The school has built relationships with Elders, Knowledge Keepers and community groups. Tretiak said these relationships and the knowledge of their staff allow Riverside to celebrate and share Indigenous culture and teachings throughout their school.

She explained that the way they look at education is based on it being traditionally, in Canada, a colonizing system, but they could change that.

“We have a very strong responsibility to look at what we have been doing, where we’ve come historically in education, in Saskatchewan, and how can we do it better,” Tretiak said.

“I think we are starting as a society and, as Saskatchewan citizens and Canadian citizens, to really start questioning (things). (We are) looking at our laws, looking at our judicial system, looking at our health care system, looking at how we support people.

“We have a very Eurocentric lens for much of what we do in Canadian society, in how we function in Saskatchewan and how we function in Prince Albert and the surrounding area, because that’s how historically they were built up,” she added.

Saskatchewan Rivers School Division, Riverside can access guidance from an Elders Council and staff specializing in Indigenous perspectives. They also use the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC).

Schools like Riverside aren’t alone in their quest. Tretiak said there are key players and tables around the country working to make sure students get a broader cultural experience.

“That should be an inherent right,” Tretiak said. “It should be not just as the colonized Canadian society view.

“We need to know about each other,” she added. “We need … to be open and honest about our past and our history and where we’ve come from. If we don’t know that, we don’t know where we’re going.”

In early May, the school hosted their Spring Gathering Cultural Camp which is one example of activities they do for decolonization.

“We have our staff who bring their gifts and talents and abilities and interests and that helps to drive a lot of the things that we do,” Tretiak said.

Some examples are Metis jigging and square dancing and a drumming group.

“We have a teacher who’s passionate about that and has drum teachings and is wanting to share that with the children. Here at Riverside, we have a community drum so we can have our males drumming. Our females drumming and our two spirited kids drumming too. It is teaching drum.”

The school was also gifted a drum before her time at Riverside began. They also have seamstress teachers on staff to help facilitate making Ribbon Skirts and Ribbon Shirts.

“She does ribbon skirts and ribbon shirts with the kids every year through their practical Applied Arts curriculum,” Tretiak explained. “It’s like taking the stuff that we do with kids through our curricula and (asking) how can we do that? Instead of just sewing pajama bottoms, she has some sewing ribbon skirts and shirts. That’s an example of decolonizing education.”

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division’s Elder’s Council, which has developed over the past few years is also a resource for Riverside.

“That has helped us connect with elders, which is something that we struggle to do in an urban setting,” she explained. “Elders are hard to access in that they are often older. there are not many of them, and many of them are supporting the work that they do in their home communities too.”