Thirty-five new teachers are arriving in their communities with a deeper understanding of Cree culture and the Cree School Board after attending the inaugural Teacher Orientation event this month in Ouje-Bougoumou.
The event was the first of its kind for the Board and was designed to give teachers their first tastes of Cree culture – from beading and learning to speak Cree, to filleting a fish and taking part in a feast.
“A once-in-a-lifetime experience”
“We wanted teachers to feel a sense of excitement and empowerment,” said Natalie Petawabano, Director of Human Resources. “We know many of our new teachers come to us because of our unique way of life, and this was a way to introduce them to that, and to the Cree School Board’s curriculum and mission ahead of the school year. We also wanted new teachers to learn about Cree history and culture to better prepare them for teaching with us”.
The event ran from Monday August 5 until Thursday afternoon August 8, 2019 and included a tour of the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, a walk through the history of the region by Philip Awashish (one of the original signatories of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement), a traditional feast, games, welcomes by school board leaders including Chairperson Sarah Pash and Director General Abraham Jolly, and workshops on teaching style and methods of managing students in the context of generational trauma.
“I feel deeply grateful”
The evaluations following the event were outstanding, Petawabano said and included comments such as, “It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget,” and “I feel deeply grateful for the warm welcome and the hospitality.” One attendee said the guest speakers were “amazing, inspirational, and really informational.”
Surveys completed following the event indicated a 96 percent satisfaction rate.