Oct 23, 2019
Gabriel Dumont Institute and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band have recently partnered to offer a 4-year Bachelor of Education, the Northern Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP). The program will be delivered at Lac La Ronge Indian Band in Air Ronge from September 2019 with an expected inaugural cohort of about 30 students. To date, more than 140 inquiries and applications have been received. There is a strong support for NITEP from the local community, University of Regina and the Northern Lights School Division.
The partnership between Gabriel Dumont Institute and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band to offer NITEP grew naturally from years of close relationship between the two organizations and a common desire to help address the issue of teacher shortage in northern Saskatchewan. The two Indigenous organizations have been working closely together since 2011 to provide skills training in La Ronge under the Gabriel Dumont Institute Indigenous Apprenticeship Program.
In August 2018, just as the 2018-2019 school year was about to start, Jason Young, the director of Northern Lights School Division, stated that the division was experiencing difficulties in its attempt to recruit 14 full-time teachers to work in the communities of La Loche, La Ronge, Pinehouse Lake, Sandy Bay, and Stony Rapids. Around the same time, President Patrick Maze of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) said that parents and students in Northern Saskatchewan should be “hugely concerned” by the teacher shortage.
On September 19, 2018, 650 CKOM ran an article titled “Union, province spar over northern teacher shortage” and STF had a news release: “STF Calls for Immediate Steps by Government to Solve Northern Teacher Shortage.” The STF media release criticized what it termed “short-sighted and damaging cancellation of the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) that allowed education students to train in the north.”
First forward to May 2019. La Ronge NOW had an article “‘For the North, by northerners’: New teacher education program in La Ronge,” while academia.ca published an online piece by the title “Northern SK collaboration springs up to address teacher shortage.” On May 10, 2019, CBC announced, both online and on TV, that “A northern teaching program resurfaces amid teacher shortage in northern Sask.”
As stated on its Vision statement, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band Education Department endeavours to provide “educational experiences that interconnect the child’s community, Cree language, history, and culture, the provincial curricula, and the world at large,” to the Band’s children are able to “acquire the skills, knowledge, and strength to enable them to assume productive roles as adults.”
Gabriel Dumont Institute, on the other hand, has been training Indigenous teachers at its Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert locations for the past four decades. The Institute’s Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) is a 4-year Bachelor of Education program offered in partnership with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix has referred to SUNTEP as a “Saskatchewan success story.”
The NITEP program, which has an emphasis on Northern Indigenous Culture, language, and land-based instruction, will be offered at the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in Air Ronge starting September, 2019. Tuition, books and income support may be available to all qualified Métis and First Nations students. First Nations applicants can apply to obtain funding through their band.
Interested Métis students should contact Michael Relland, Coordinator, Gabriel Dumont College, at Michael.Relland@gdi.gdins.org or by phone at (306) 764-1818, while interested Members of Lac La Ronge Indian Band should contact Tammy Robinson, Post-Secondary Coordinator, at Tammy.Robinson@llribedu.ca or call (306) 425-7969.