A five-year agreement between the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and Sask. Polytech aims to promote the inherent and treaty right to education for Indigenous students.
The agreement represents a shared interest between the two organizations. Through discussion and collaboration, Sask. Polytech is also implementing calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“Our treaty right to education is the key to prosperity of our First Nations people,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said in a press release. “It is one of our mandates to make sure we are building strong relationships with facilities that recognize the importance of it as well.”
The CEO from Sask. Polytech said signing an agreement with FSIN is an important step in providing services and programing to Indigenous students.
“Guided by the principles of reconciliation, we continue to look for opportunities to holistically integrate First Nations ways of knowing, teaching and learning into our practises, procedures and services,” President and CEO of Sask. Poly Tech Dr. Larry Rosia said.
Jason Seright, the director of Indigenous strategy for Sask. Polytech, said the memorandum of understanding (MOU) creates lines of communication between the two organizations.
Seright described the working relationship between the two organizations as “good,” in the past. Previously, representatives from Sask. Polytech would sit down with members of the FSIN’s education department.
“We never really sat down at the high level… with the chiefs or vice chiefs,” Seright said. “This MOU will give us that opportunity to share with those leaders.”
He said the FSIN will work with Sask. Polytech to help in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action which apply directly to education. The educational institution has been working towards reconciliation in some capacity since 2007 or 2008 according to Seright.
He said the work toward reconciliation and implementing Indigenous knowledge about education, and strategies directed at Indigenous students has bolstered the school's graduation rates.
In the last four years, he said the number of Indigenous graduates at the Polytech campuses has been in the low 50’s; last year the rate jumped to 57 per cent.
“That’s some proof, and if I look back over the last four years, we had 716 [Indigenous] graduates, and then 740 graduates, and then last year, we had 865 graduates,” Seright said. “I believe that speaks to some of the change and some of the progress we’re seeing.”
Seright said he’s seen campuses and Polytech staff respond well to the institution's shift towards Indigenization.
“So many people have bought into Indigenization and I think that’s why we’re seeing some of the positive results,” Seright said. “It’s not just the work of one person.”
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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