PBCN and Northern Lights School Division sign agreement with USask

Cree Teacher Education Program to continue

After a successful trial run, the Cree Teacher Education Program (CTEP) will continue for another four years after the University of Saskatchewan signed an agreement with the Northern Lights School Division and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) Education Authority on Wednesday.

As part of the agreement, 34 CTEP students can take USask College of Education and College of Arts and Science courses in Pelican Narrows, with satellite locations in Sandy Bay and Deschambault Lake.

Northern Lights School Division Education Director Jason Young said the agreement will help increase the number of teachers working in the north.

“I am excited that we are gathered here together to celebrate culture, language, identity, (and) relationships at this beautiful ceremony in this beautiful community with all of these beautiful people,” Young said in a media release. “There will be challenges along the way, but I know these students will succeed because they have gone this far and they will continue to be successful on the journey.”

The first CTEP cohort enrolled in 2019, and ended with 26 students graduating with education degrees in the spring of 2023. USask College of Education Dean Julia Paulson said they’re eager to build on that foundation.

“The college is honoured to work with strong community partners to enhance education in northern Saskatchewan,” Paulson said in a media release. “It’s wonderful to see 34 students sitting before us and we wish them all the best on their learning journey.”

Both Young and Paulson said strong community partners were important to the program’s success.

PBCN Chief Karen Bird, Pelican Narrows Mayor Ovide Michel, and Sandy Bay Mayor Gertrude Bear, were among the community representatives in attendance. PBCN Director of Education Darren Linklater said many local communities want to expand their language and cultural programs, and the CTEP will provide the teachers they need to do it.

“Indigenous peoples are significantly underrepresented in the teaching professions,” he said in a press release. “This partnership is a testament to our commitment to serving our communities and our response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, specifically Calls to Action 62 and 64.”

Northern education students welcomed news of the agreement. Incoming CTEP student Amelia Bear said the accessibility it creates will allow her to balance her studies with family commitments.

“‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is a saying we hear lots, but it means that an entire community of people must come together to interact positively with children for them to experience and grow in a safe and knowledgeable environment,” Bear said. “CTEP allows us to become the educators that raise and teach our children together for their success.”

@padailyherald • editorial@paherald.sk.ca