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Treaty 8, professional association focus on education
Sciences and maths will be receiving extra emphasis in on-reserve schools in Treaty 8.
“We’re looking at the younger grades and junior high, saying okay, this is why math and science are important,” said Joseph Jobin, CEO of Treaty 8. “We’re looking at whatever it takes to get messages to the youth to stay in school and take a look at education.”
In January, Treaty 8 signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta that will see education in sciences and maths emphasized in the school system so that when students reach university they have the option of pursuing careers in engineering or geosciences.
“Our First Nations are looking forward to an opportunity to work collaboratively to improve educational outcomes for Treaty 8 students,” said Grand Chief Richard Kappo, in a news release.
Discussions on the MOA began last summer. Through the MOA, APPEGGA and Treaty 8 will “identify and employ best practices to remove barriers and create strategic opportunities that foster successful First Nations learners.”
For APEGGA, the partnership with Treaty 8 is one more strategy the association has employed to both increase its visibility with the Aboriginal population as well as increase its Aboriginal membership. APEGGA has set as its goal to have two per cent of its professional members self-identified as Aboriginal by 2030.
“From APEGGA’s perspective, the purpose of the agreement is to commit to working with Treaty 8 First Nations to leverage our respective strengths. Our strengths lie in our human and financial resources and experience with the content and logistics of science outreach to youth,” said APEGGA President Jim Smith, in a news release.
APEGGA has similar MOAs with the Edmonton Catholic School Board and the Calgary School Board, both of which include mentorship with Aboriginal students in those school jurisdictions.
Jobin said Treaty 8 has a commitment from APEGGA members to come to on-reserve schools as well as help with the traditional science fair in Driftpile March 20-21. Summer mentorship programs will also be undertaken.
The MOA between Treaty 8 and APEGGA is the first of its kind in the province – and perhaps the country – involving a First Nations group and a self-regulating professional organization.
While the focus of the MOA is education, there is no doubt that encouraging students to stay in school while pursuing maths and sciences could have an economic impact.
“There is a skilled-knowledge worker shortage coming… the Aboriginal population is very young. A lot of those youth are going to be looking for opportunities,” said Philip Mulder, director of communications with APEGGA.
“These are careers that can be fulfilling, certainly from a personal perspective in terms of doing something that is really contributing to society, and they’re well paid. And they can also be done in a number of places. You don’t have to move into the city to do this kind of work.”
While talks are not ongoing with Treaty 6 and Treaty 7 for a similar MOA, Mulder said APEGGA is open to discussions and Jobin highly encourages the two treaty regions to consider the move.
Jobin also said that Treaty 8 would welcome similar partnership discussions with any other organization with a focus on education.
APEGGA is also working on a national level as a member of Engineers Canada which signed an agreement with the Assembly of First Nations to deliver maths and sciences programs to Aboriginal youth.
Photo caption: Treaty 8 Grand Chief Richard Kappo (left) and APEGGA President Jim Smith sign the Memorandum of Agreement.
Photo: Courtesy APEGGA
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