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SUNTEP Graduates Execute Michif Early Learning Pilot Project

By Desirae Barker

Sep 4, 2020

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The reclamation and revitalization of the Michif Language is set to begin growing roots within our youngest generation. The Michif Early Learning Pilot Project (MELPP), a partnership between the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan (MN—S) and the Canadian Geographic will launch in Saskatchewan schools in fall 2020.

The initiative is designed to encourage more Métis people to speak their traditional Michif language. At this time, there are not many Michif Language Keepers in Saskatchewan. Statistics Canada further this point with numbers showing that fewer than 650 people living in Canada speak the Michif language.

For Jeannine Whitehouse, Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) graduate, the project is meant to “plant a seed, build a foundation and help people understand who we are as a Nation.” Jeannine is the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education Coordinator for the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD). When MN—S reached out to the RCSD to implement the project with their early learning (Pre-K and Kindergarten) students, she was very excited.

As a Métis graduate from SUNTEP in 2001, Jeannine brings a lifetime of culture to the MELPP. Jeannine grew up surrounded by her culture and credits SUNTEP for providing her with the self-assurance to comfortably walk in both worlds.  Allowing her to embrace her culture and celebrate everything about her identity makes her passionate about helping other’s do the same. She states she is “happy there is an opportunity for the younger generation to experience culture at a younger age. This will help them to also feel comfortable in their identity.”

Jeannine’s summer has been dedicated to building a curriculum with her team for the MELPP launch in September. The project will incorporate Michif learning into full-day classes from Monday to Thursday with one day of family engagement. Family engagement day invites parents into the classroom to be involved in the Michif learning. This unique strategy “will help create a solid foundation for students and bring the community together through reconnection and celebration of culture and language,” says Jeannine.

Jeannine is among other SUNTEP grads that are involved with the MELPP at their respective schools. Chandrelle Marshall, Lyla Phillips, and Victoria Parisien will be working with students in the program in Saskatoon and Regina. GDI is excited about this new program and proud that our graduates continue to share Métis history and culture. We encourage everyone to visit the http://www.metismuseum.ca/ and check out all the Michif Resources we have available online!

For more information on the Michif Early Learning Pilot Project visit: https://metisnationsk.com/2020/06/23/mn-s-teams-with-5-school-boards-for-michif-early-learning-pilot-project/

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

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