As part of its 40th Anniversary celebration, the Cree School Board planted a tree outside its school in Eastmain this week as a symbol of the growth and hope that are expected in Cree education in the coming 40 years.
“We may not be here,” said Director General Abraham Jolly, “but this tree will be, and it will stand for the strong roots we built in our first 40 years, as well as the promise of student success in the next 40.”
About 100 people attended the planting June 5, which was integrated into the Regional General Assembly program, and included students and staff from the school as well as Ministry delegates, Grand Chief Abel Bosum, chiefs from other communities, and other special guests.
The tree is a balsam poplar, which is not just recommended as a hardy variety for the area, but is also closely related to the newly emerging philosophy of Cree education, developed in the past three years through working groups tasked with defining the central core of a Cree education system. That philosophy will be held within a new Cree Education Act.
“Our first 40 years, from the signing of the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement to now, have been spent building foundations: building, systems, a curriculum, and exploring what it means to be educated in Eeyou/Eenou Istchee,” Jolly said. “Our next 40 years must focus on education itself. What will that look like? How will we prepare our students for success? We must, because the future of the Cree Nation depends on it.”
The tree planting was one of a number of activities the board undertook this week during its Regional General Assembly in Eastmain. Other include the release of a commemorative brochure “Listening to our past, Speaking to our future,” a feast and traditional square-dancing display, and a new school board logo. The tree planting will be duplicated in each community on June 21, 2018.