When you walk through the halls of any of our schools, you may hear fiddle playing and feet shuffling – that would be Mr. Jerome Chabot, jigging away much to everyone’s delight. As Sturgeon Public Schools’ Métis Learning Coach (and teacher at Oak Hill school), Mr. Chabot supports both staff and students in building foundational knowledge of the Métis.
“There is a great deal of misconception around Métis identity and I feel that a huge part of my role is to clarify who the Métis are beyond the simple idea of “mixed blood” people,” says Mr. Chabot. “The Métis are a distinct people with their own language, culture, traditions, and identity that is rooted in the western plains (the Métis Homeland) of what we now call Canada.”
His experiences growing up in a Métis family saw Mr. Chabot spending a lot of time in the bush in eastern Alberta at his grandparents’ farm and trapline. He first picked up a fiddle at the age of seven and started taking lessons around age nine. Family was his community. They would spend a lot of time together outside in the bush and inside his grandparents’ log cabin. The fiddle was central to his family gatherings and it was often accompanied by a lot of dancing and jigging.
“As I got older, I realized that what I saw as “normal” wasn’t the experience of many of my peers. In school, I wasn’t always seeing my culture being portrayed in a positive way. We weren’t encouraged to celebrate our Métis identity due to fear of being mistreated.”
Mr. Chabot comes from nearby Fort Saskatchewan and joined Sturgeon Public Schools in 2011 as a French teacher at Lilian Schick school. Becoming a teacher was Jerome’s way of mixing his love of working with youth and passion for his Métis culture. He is happy making school a little bit more fun than was his experience, focusing on Indigenous education and specifically Métis education. He wants all Indigenous students to feel absolutely proud of who they are and of their culture.
“I saw a need for Métis culture and identity to be taught in an authentic manner. Education needed to go beyond the narrative that Métis are simply “mixed blood people”. I never want any student to feel as though they need to hide their Indigenous identity like I did. It absolutely makes my day whenever I have students proudly share with me that they are Indigenous.”
When asked how students and colleagues would describe him, Mr. Chabot said “loud and proud!” He admits he’s “not a quiet person” and loves to joke and tease.
“If you haven’t heard that I am Métis, you haven’t known me very long. I am extremely proud to be Métis. I am proud to be from this land. I am proud of all of the amazing accomplishments of my ancestors. I am passionate about my culture and my identity.”
And we’re passionate about you being part of the Sturgeon Public Schools family Mr. Chabot!
Relationships are everything.
# Métisweek #schoolfamily #incredibleteachers #culturaleducation