A new partnership has been formed between the Alberta government and Fort Chipewyan’s three Indigenous communities.
Called “first-of-its-kind” by the province, the agreement would see improvements to education delivery in the area.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) , Deputy Chief Roxanne Marcel of Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN), and President Kendrick Cardinal of the Fort Chipewyan Métis Association Local #125.
“Alberta’s government is continuing to work closely with the Fort Chipewyan community to support student success, improve educational outcomes and advance reconciliation through culturally appropriate education. This historic agreement will help preserve, support and revitalize the languages, cultures and identities of Indigenous students in Fort Chipewyan.”
LaGrange first visited the First Nations and Métis leadership in Wood Buffalo after being named the Minister of Education in September 2019.
Work to replace the Athabasca Delta Community School will also continue.
Chief Adam of the ACFN said his community is excited to embark on this new path for education.
“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.”
150 students from kindergarten to Grade 10 attend Athabasca Delta.
According to Budget 2020, the new K-12 school will have the capacity to serve up to 300 students.
Work to define the scope and site for the new school is ongoing
MCFN Deputy Chief Roxanne Marcel said the future of education in Fort Chipewyan will create exciting opportunities for the 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 recognized this was important for our future and we continue to share that same vision today.”
Fort Chipewyan Métis President Kendrick Cardinal shared his optimism on the signing of the MOU.
“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 Alberta government will also provide Fort Chipewyan with $150-thousand in funding to help with community engagement, along with financial and non-financial assistance in human resources and education expertise.