Sturgeon Public Schools supports education initiatives in order to create safe, caring and inclusive learning environments. Through Division and school education initiatives, our goal is to deepen our students’ understanding and respect for FNMI cultures, to meet the needs and enhance the experience of our FNMI students, and strengthen FNMI perspectives in our curriculum.
Our schools work with parents and community members to implement innovative programs and strategies that support the success of First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) students, and benefit the entire school community. In fact, studies have shown that Sturgeon Public School's FNMI students meet or outperform the provincial standard in all measures outlined in the Accountability Pillar Summary.
FNMI Education Resources
First Nations, Métis and Inuit teachings help our division develop cultural understanding and historic sensitivity of the perspectives and experiences of Aboriginal people.
Cultural Understanding – The Blanket Exercise
We assist staff to develop cultural understanding and historic sensitivity of the perspectives and experiences of Aboriginal people, including participation in the Blanket Exercise.
Blanket Exercise participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator and the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards, which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy. Ideally, the exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group. This often takes the form of a talking circle.
Sturgeon Public Schools administrators participated in the Blanket Exercise facilitated by Musée Héritage Museum staff. We have more staff Blanket Exercises scheduled and have also received requests for students to experience the Blanket Exercise in their social studies classes, as there is a direct curriculum link.
We’re committed to creating caring environments for our Aboriginal students where they see themselves represented in their environment and have a sense of belonging.
Cultural Pride in Learning
Aboriginal students see their culture, history and perspectives represented in literature, developing cultural pride.
Outdoor activities and classes let students move and play through traditional games.
Education is Our Buffalo
Teacher resources help build cultural understanding and teacher capacity.
Moving forward, Sturgeon Public Schools will continue to build cultural awareness and understanding in schools by exploring new initiatives and implementing best practices. These include:
- Continuing our Call To Action cohort to monitor student success and build capacity in schools
- Blanket Exercises for all staff in the division
- Student facilitators trained for Blanket Exercises
- Exploration of educational resources
Our schools offer a variety of FNMI education activities in support of our division goals.
Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters
Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
At Camilla School, an elder visited to host a smudging ceremony and give cultural teachings for staff and students.
Learn more about Orange Shirt Day
Our schools invest in resources and artifacts for our library and learning commons in support of FNMI cultural awareness, expanding their collections of FNMI story books for students to read. Ochre Park School has a special teepee reading area.
Classroom teachers are integrating FNMI literature and art into subject areas to increase students’ understanding and awareness of FNMI perspectives, such as relating art projects to First Nations myths and legends. Junior high students at Camilla School visited the Alexander First Nations School and attended a career fair alongside other First Nations students.
Staff and students learn how to make and play traditional FNMI games. At Ochre Park School, grade 3 and 4 students then facilitate the making and playing of these games.
Community in Our Schools
Our schools are incorporating FNMI culture through initiatives such as Gibbons School placing artifacts around the school and Lilian Schick School ordering Treaty 6 and Métis flags.
Staff Professional Development
Staff are participating in a variety of activities that focus on increasing our awareness and understanding of FNMI perspectives, such as participating in the FNMI cohort, participating in a Blanket Exercise, reading FMNI literature such as a book study on Broken Circle by Theodore Fontaine, taking part in an FNMI cultural camp, and participating in the ATA session “Understanding Histories, Cultures and Worldviews of Alberta’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples.”
Other Education Initiatives
Some of the other ongoing initiatives at Sturgeon Public Schools Schools include:
- Smaller class sizes
- Elder support
- Diversity Week/Day focusing on FNMI cultures and heritage
- Drumming and beading classes
- Liaison/success coaching (Sturgeon Composite High School)
- Various events (i.e. inviting Elders and First Nations authors to work with students)
- Partnerships with community organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters to reach out to FNMI students