Indigenous leaders in Fort Chipewyan have signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with the Alberta government to improve education in the community.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Fort Chipewyan Métis, and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a community-based education authority that incorporates Indigenous knowledge, wisdom, tradition, and culture directly into the school curriculum.
“We are excited to embark on a new path for education in Fort Chipewyan. The youth of our community and our nation must have access to education that not only provides the foundation for a sustainable and successful future but also recognizes our traditions, language, culture, and Indigenous identity. We hope this step is the beginning of a new journey that will lead to the strong future the children of our community deserve,” said Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Building a framework for collaboration, addressing mutual concerns, and supporting students in Fort Chipewyan as well as replacing the Athabasca Delta Community School will be part of the new agreement.
Roughly 150 students from kindergarten to Grade 10 attend the Athabasca Delta Community School.
Construction of a new K-12 school with a capacity of 300 students was included in the Alberta government’s 2020 budget.
Work is currently ongoing to define the scope of the project and to identify a site for the new school.
“The Mikisew Cree First Nation supports this memorandum that will ensure we will collaborate in advancing improvements to our children’s education in Fort Chipewyan. The future of education in our community will create exciting opportunities for our children. It will ensure that our children’s education will include our way of life, culture, language, and knowledge systems as well as the advancements in science and technology. Education is a Treaty right that we will continue to ensure is provided to us in the highest quality. Our ancestors recognised this was important for our future and we continue to share that same vision today. The Mikisew Cree looks forward to working with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Fort Chip Métis Association, and the Government of Alberta on this initiative. I would like to congratulate everyone on moving this new education authority forward,” says Deputy Chief Roxanne Marcel, Mikisew Cree First Nation.
“With the signing of this memorandum, we affirm the right to guide our children’s education. This memorandum represents a single step on a journey of providing our next generation with educational opportunities that preserve their dignity, self-determination, and wellbeing. The future of education in Fort Chipewyan is a system where our cultures, our languages, and our traditional ways of life are the basis of the learning provided to our children. Our children deserve this. Our community deserves this. The Fort Chipewyan Métis looks forward to working with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Mikisew Cree First Nation, and the Government of Alberta on this initiative. I would like to congratulate everyone on moving this new education authority forward,” said Kendrick Cardinal, president of Fort Chipewyan Métis
Public engagement will be the first step in the new community-based education authority with the Alberta government providing $150,000 for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Mikisew Cree First Nation, and the Fort Chipewyan Métis.