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'Giving them self identity': James Smith Cree Nation partners with school divisions

After a difficult year, the community of James Smith Cree Nation is building some new bonds by partnering with two nearby school divisions.

A tuition agreement between the East Central First Nations partnership program (ECFNPP), the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division (SRSD), and the North East School Division (NESD) was signed on Thursday.

"Bringing that interest in regards to teaching our children our ways, our First Nations ways, and developing our inherent rights of treaty and also education,” Chief Wally Burns said.

The agreement aims to enhance the quality of education for students attending school, either on or off the First Nation. The school divisions will be responsible for forming a First Nation and Metis advisory council for James Smith Cree Nation Students.

"Mutually beneficial for all parties, so that we can address student outcomes, student activates, as well as, success rates for all involved in the three systems,” Randy Constant, ECFNPP Director of Education, said.

Vice-chair of the NESD Marla Walton said the partnership will help other students learn more about Indigenous culture.

The James Smith Cree Nation celebrated an agreement with school divisions by holding their first powwow of the year. (Stacey Hein/CTV News)

"It’s just to develop a really great partnership so that we can share some of our ideas, we can share some of our resources, and of course in the end, it’s all for the benefit of the students,” Walton said.

The community celebrated the agreement with their first powwow of the year. Burns said ever since the mass stabbings, the community has been focusing on helping the youth.

"We all come together and nurture our kids, and look at them now, they just can't wait for the powwow season to begin," Burns said.

He said the number of powwow dancers has significantly increased over the past year, and he hopes this new partnership will help more students reconnect with their culture.

"Giving them a self-identity in regards to who they are as First Nations people, and that’s one of the things we have to learn and teach them,” Burns said. Top Stories

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