Grant to help First Nation students
Thursday, Feb 12, 2015 06:00 am
A substantial grant that will go toward building leadership and resiliency among First Nation students to succeed in school and life has thrilled staff at Canadian Rockies Public Schools in respect to future Aboriginal learning.
The Canadian Red Cross issued a $320,905 grant to CRPS that will be used for improving the academic success rate for students through the Outdoor Experiential Education Stoney Adventure Group Experience (SAGE) program.
The SAGE program, which has existed for seven years at Canmore Collegiate High School, has partnered with Outward Bound Canada, a leading school for outdoor experiential education, with the main idea of taking students on excursions to promote personal growth, for five years.
“We do that by taking them out on the land and teaching there’s more inside than they know,” said Jeff Horvath, an Aboriginal liaison teacher at CCHS. “My main focus is (for the students) to learn about themselves, but use the mountains as a classroom and reconnect them with their land.
“If you can build those connections again, the personal growth follows, giving them the confidence to pursue their dreams.”
The SAGE program meets monthly throughout the school year and has a few extended trips each year, such as a seven-day backpacking trip in September.
Horvath says he sees a higher percentage of First Nation students drop out in Grade 11 and 12 so the program’s aim is to provide First Nation students with the skills and tools to “complete their journey.”
CRPS in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross will build on the locally developed SAGE program for youth in First Nations communities affected by the devastating 2013 flood.
“After the flood, we proposed a partnership and a grant from the Red Cross to target other communities affected by the flood and to develop leadership capacity in the communities that we’re going to work with,” Horvath said.
There are a lot of challenges surrounding First Nations education, including underfunding, Horvath said, and the grant will also help connect with other Treaty 7 First Nation communities in southern Alberta.
In a statement, Melanie Soler, director, Alberta floods operations, Canadian Red Cross, said when disaster happens the road to recovery is unique for each affected community.
“The support provided to CRPS will produce positive outcomes for increased leadership, resiliency and contribute to the success of Treaty 7 students and SAGE participants.
This March a joint “adventure trip” partnership between SAGE Morley Community School students will be held. Horvath met with education members from Tsuu T’ina Nation and reached out to nations such as Kainai and Siksika for more formal meetings to occur.
“We want to develop future leaders in all aspects of the communities that we’re going to work with,” Horvath said.
“I think what our countrymen have been doing in the past has not worked as well as we wanted to, so I think a lot of communities are very excited about trying different and innovative things.”