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Relland Retires After 31 Years

By Desirae Barker

Sep 26, 2022

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As the academic year came to a close this June, Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) students, staff, and faculty said goodbye to long-serving employee Michael Relland. A celebration took place on June 10th in Prince Albert to honor Mike’s long, remarkable career at the Institute.

Mike started at GDI in 1990 as a faculty member for the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) in Prince Albert. Within a couple of years, he became the Program Coordinator/Program Head. Mike built his career and made his mark running the SUNTEP centre in Prince Albert for many years. His easy-going nature, humility, as well as care and concern for his students, are a few of the qualities that have set Mike apart in his career. Over the years, he has nurtured successive groups of SUNTEP teachers who have gone on to do important work in schools across the province.

In 2018, Mike moved to the Gabriel Dumont College, an entity within GDI that utilizes affiliation agreements with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan to offer accredited undergraduate and graduate education to Métis students. Mike was instrumental in the development of the Community-Based Master of Education Program (CBMEP) in Prince Albert, which began in 2013. Mike’s ability to build and grow partnerships within the community directly impacted the success of the Master’s program. In 2020, a second CBMEP was launched in La Ronge. To date, GDI has graduated 124 students with Master’s degrees in Education, and the program continues to attract new students. It takes vision and determination to initiate these opportunities and pursue them to fruition; and GDI is glad to have Mike’s experience and wisdom to guide the development of an Education Doctorate program that is currently in the works. These are tremendous accomplishments that would not have been possible without Mike’s hard work and determination.

Mike’s accomplishments within his years of service at GDI are many. A few that are most notable is the partnership he worked on with the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division, which brings university credits into the high schools helping build the confidence of grade 12 students who might not otherwise purpose post-secondary education. He also worked on various research articles on Métis education. One of his most recent articles in collaboration with Dr. James Oloo, titled, “‘I Think of my Classroom as Place for Healing’: Experiences of Indigenous Students in a Community-Based Master of Education Program in Saskatchewan” was published in the Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy last fall. “Many names and faces come to mind wherever the story of GDI is told. However, very few are as closely tied to the Institute’s teacher education program as Michael Relland’s. Mike prioritizes the student over the curriculum and is intentional in building healthy relationships with his students. His pleasant and good-natured disposition and belief in the mission of the Institute has not only endeared him to his students and colleagues, but have also enabled him to play a key role in the expansion of educational programming in the North. Congratulations on your retirement, Mike. I’m so happy we worked together and became friends,” said Dr. James Oloo.

Mike’s career has greatly benefitted the aspirations and goals of many Métis people in Saskatchewan. He is a fierce advocate for Métis education and an influential leader for SUNTEP and GDI. “Along with many talents, he is well-respected as an educator, a mentor, a friend, Métis Knowledge Keeper, and an all-around great guy,” said Bonnie Novotny, SUNTEP Head Prince Albert. His retirement marks a shift in his journey, but certainly not an end to his contributions to the Métis.

“Mike has been an outstanding colleague, a leader in the development of new programs and services, a caring role model for Métis teacher-candidates, and a champion of Métis education in our province,” said Lisa Bird-Wilson, GDI Executive Director. The staff, faculty, and students would like to wish Mike all the best in his retirement.

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