Feb 10, 2020
The Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI), a Métis-owned post-secondary and cultural institution, first opened its doors in Saskatoon in 1980. Today, GDI has offices and program delivery centres across Saskatchewan.
The Institute will hold its 40th Anniversary Métis Culture and Education Conference in Saskatoon from February 6 to 8, 2020. The Conference has a lineup of 50 workshops and presentations that fit with GDI’s cultural and education mandate.
The Institute will invest 25 individuals into the Order of Gabriel Dumont. The awards will be presented to persons who have provided a service to the Métis of Canada with distinction, as well as to current and past Métis students for their excellence in leadership, academic and community work.
The GDI 40th Anniversary Métis Culture and Education Conference will also include a gala night of Métis entertainment. Keynote speakers include Maria Campbell, a renowned Métis author and Order of Canada recipient, and Jesse Thistle – a Métis scholar and best-selling author.
GDI has achieved significant milestones to date. Last year, more than 3,300 students and clients accessed GDI programs at 15 locations in Saskatchewan.
The Institute was formally incorporated in 1980 as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational and cultural programming. Through partnerships with the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and the province’s various regional colleges, GDI offers several accredited educational, vocational, and skills-training programs to the province’s Métis people.
In 1980, the first students at GDI had their class at a rented facility. Today, the Institute owns buildings in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and La Loche covering over 74,000 square feet and is paying $120,000 in property taxes to local communities annually.
Between 1986 and 1989, GDI awarded a total of $41,000 in financial assistance to Métis students. In 2018-2019, GDI awarded $448,000 in scholarships to Métis students. Since 1980, GDI has awarded $3.2M in scholarships to Métis students.
GDI has contributed to Indigenization and reconciliation at Saskatchewan schools in several ways, including in teacher education. In 1980, then-Saskatchewan Education Minister Doug McArthur stated that there were “eight native teachers in Saskatchewan’s major urban centres out of a total teaching staff of 3,700.” The same year, the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) was launched. SUNTEP is a four-year Bachelor of Education program offered by GDI in Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert in partnership with the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education.
Over 1,300 Indigenous men and women have graduated from SUNTEP with Bachelor of Education degrees to date. Most of the graduates are working in Saskatchewan schools as teachers and administrators there by impacting lives of thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students across the province each day.
Further, GDI, together with the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and the University of Regina, launched a new Northern Saskatchewan Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NSITEP) in September 2019. NSITEP is a timely program that will reduce the challenge of teacher shortage and turnover in the north.
Another 70 students have graduated from the community-based Master of Education program that is delivered by GDI in partnership with the University of Regina in Prince Albert.
GDI has taken a lead in training Indigenous nurses. It offers practical nursing programs in Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert. To date, Dumont Technical Institute (a branch of GDI) has graduated 322 licensed practical nurses, or about 10% of the 2,977 licensed practical nurses who are currently working in the province.
Last fall, Dumont Technical Institute delivered the Indigenous Birth Support Worker program in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and Saskatoon Tribal Council. It is the first program of its kind in Saskatchewan. The program registered 100% graduation rate, and 90% of graduates found jobs with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
GDI became the first Métis organization to deliver on the Canada-Métis Post-Secondary Accord. More than 470 Métis students in Saskatchewan received funding through the Métis Nation University Sponsorship program in the fall of 2019.
The GDI Indigenous Apprenticeship Program has supported more than 1,000 jobs since 2011.
Happy 40th anniversary Gabriel Dumont Institute. More information: www.gdins.org
The article was first published in the Maple Creek Advance Times. It is reprinted with permission.