East Central First Nations Education Partnership celebrates opening on James Smith

East Central Education Authority Photo (L to R) Phyllis Head, Chief Kirby Constant, Constable Noah Brown, Merv Morin, Elder Peter Sanderson, Camillia Sanderson, Pauline McKay, Randy Constant, Chief Calvin Sanderson, Margaret Daniels and Staff Sgt. Ryan Case took part in the ribbon cutting for the East Central First Nations Education Partnership on Thursday, May 23 at Bernard Constant School.

The new East Central First Nations Education Authority celebrated the official opening of their new East Central First Nations Education Partnership at Bernard Constant School on James Smith on Thursday, May 23.
East Central First Nations Education Authority Director of Education Randy Constant said the inauguration of Bernard Constant showed the organization’s commitment to James Smith.
“It solidifies the responsibility of East Central First Nations Education Authority,” he explained. “We’ve been delegated the responsibility of providing an engaging, responsive and respectful education program for the stakeholders at Bernard Classic Community School at the James Smith Cree Nation.”
The East Central Authority creates programming reflective of the needs of the James Smith Cree Nation. Constant was selected as the Director and the board hired superintendents and consultants.
Constant said they have sought to create new spaces for the school. That includes creating a Wellness Centre right in the school. They have also put aside money to hire a wellness coordinator, a wellness consultant, a mental health therapist, social workers and guidance
In the aftermath of the mass stabbing incident on September 4, 2022, where 11 community members were killed and 18 others injured, Constant said there needed to be a shift in some of the programs available.
“We had the opportunity now to identify funding opportunities to address once again the new reality for the nation when it comes to addressing the needs of students, staff, support staff, our administrators, our parents, our grandparents, our leaders and other community agencies,” he explained.
“We had to take into consideration the building up of our capacity, of now becoming trauma-informed with the goal of becoming trauma-sensitive in all our activities.”
Constant said the goal of the organization is to be trauma-sensitive and he thanked the leadership of both James Smith and the Authority for embracing the concept.
“We couldn’t have done it without the buy-in from leadership and the buy-in from our teachers and then our parents and our elders and at the end of the day our students,” he said.
Constant said the Authority has met with youth, parents, teachers and elders in what he calls ‘summits.’ They are planning to hold one for leadership around their next AGM in July.
The education authority is creating a strategy to use new programming in the next school year to address how the school students and staff have been impacted.
Students and staff have access to all of them and therapists come into the school twice a week.
“We’ve got a lot of things on the go, a lot of things that still require input from the various sectors from the various perspectives within this whole scenario of education transformation,” he said. “We want to do it right and for us to do it right, we need to ensure
that we have input from everyone and that’s from our students up to our elders and our leaders.”

East Central Education Authority Photo
Chakastaypasin Band Chief Calvin Sanderson spoke at the ribbon cutting for the East Central First Nations Education Partnership on Thursday, May 23 at Bernard Constant School.

The May 23 event was emceed by Mervin Whitehead, Vice-principal of Bernard Constant Community School (BCCS), speakers included Constant, Codi Baptiste, BCCS Principal, Camillia Sanderson, Chairperson of the ECFNEP Board of Directors, Merv Morin, Regional Director of
Programs, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) on behalf of Rob Harvey, Regional Director General, ISC Saskatchewan Region, Chakastaypasin Band Chief Calvin Sanderson, Peter Chapman Band Chief Robert Head and James Smith Cree Nation Chief Kirby Constant.
They also partner with the North East School Division and Saskatchewan Rivers School Division.
Constant said that the opportunities for the partnership are only limited by their imagination.
“Everything that we do is based on research and best practice and we can try new ideas, try new things within our organization, and if they don’t work, then you know what? We have the opportunity to start again. I guess what we have is the backing of our community and the
backing of our leadership that that will take us a long way when it comes to the opportunities that exist with this partnership,” Constant said.