The provincial government delivered last week on one of the recommendations in the 2013 final report of its Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis people.
Recommendation 6 states: “… the Joint Task Force recommends the Province establish an invitational Second Level Shared Services Initiative between provincial and First Nations authorities to provide incentives for cooperation across systems particularly in the areas of professional development for staff and ancillary professional services to students.”
On June 17, the Province announced $150,000 to support an Invitational Shared Services Initiative (ISSI) between the Good Spirit School Division (GSSD) and Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC).
Dwayne Reeve, GSSD director of education said the amount of the funding is significant, but it also represents an unprecedented commitment by the Province.
“It’s a big deal because it’s provincial money assisting people on federal land,” he said.
Some of the barriers to Aboriginal educational outcomes identified by the provincial government in its Vision 2020 plan were literacy, a funding gap between supports in on-reserve and off-reserve schools and a lack of culturally appropriate content.
In principal, the ISSI seeks to address these issues by creating a consistent and comprehensive approach to literacy between the on-reserve and provincial schools.
“The Yorkton Tribal Council is excited to support the unprecedented level of collaboration that is developing between Keeseekoose Chiefs Education Centre, Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex and the Good Spirit School Division through Kamsack Comprehensive Institute,” said Ross Brown, YTC director of education. “The focus on keeping students in school and improving graduation rates through improvement in reading and by creating a community connection in a culturally appropriate way, is just the support many students need.”
In practice, Reeve explained, the collaboration is essential because students often move between schools and having the consistent supports in place with a focus on reading makes a huge difference.
“They need that to access other pieces of the curriculum, so we have a real strong desire to do that,” he said.