Saskatoon Métis Organization and Local Catholic School Division Renew Métis Education Agreement

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A partnership on Métis education between the Central Urban Métis Federation and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools has been renewed indefinitely.

The partnership was originally signed with a memorandum of understanding in 2010. The agreement was renewed again in 2015. However, officials from both organizations claim that the initial partnership predates the first memorandum of understanding by nearly a decade.

Since its inception, the agreement has seen the integration of Métis culture into the school division’s curriculum in several ways, including the creation of a Michif language immersion program as well as violin lessons and jitter.

CUMFI President Shirley Isbister says this agreement is important because it brings Métis voices to the table.

“That doesn’t normally happen because with the education system it normally comes from the top down…but that’s not the case in this deal,” Isbister said.

While previous agreements were signed for five-year terms, Isbister pointed to the Métis infinity symbol for the duration, she says, of this new agreement.

The agreement was renamed the nakateyimitowin partnership, which roughly translates to “benevolent relations” in Michif. Three Métis Knowledge Keepers came up with the name.

“It’s part of the recovery in the denomination,” Isbister said. “I think it’s really important as we move forward that all of our projects are named by our elders and have a reason and purpose.”

I think it’s so fitting that ‘caring relationships’ is in the name of the agreement,” said Diane Boyko, Chair of the GSCS Board of Education. “That describes education so well. Everyone at CUMFI has been caring and compassionate in working with us, from the Board of Directors to the students in the classrooms, to deepen our relationship and guide us in our work with students, staff and Métis programs.

The two organizations celebrated the signing of the new agreement at an event in Saskatoon on Thursday morning with several students joining in the celebration showcasing their fiddle, jigging and Michif language skills.

(PHOTO: GSCS Board Chair Diane Boyko and CUMFI President Shirley Isbister sign the nakateyimitowin agreement at an event in Saskatoon. Photo by Joel Willick.)

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