Métis Nation seeks to fill gap in education system by expanding early years language program

(Métis Nation-Saskatchewan/Facebook)

The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) has announced that it will expand its early language learning program across the province.

Six new school divisions are partnering with the Ministry of Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) to bring the Michif and Dene languages ​​to young students in all 12 MN-S regions.

At its March meeting, the Métis Provincial Council approved the expansion of early language learning programs to six new school divisions, including Living Sky, Northern Lights, Horizon, Good Spirit and Prairie Valley.

Cree language programs will also be offered in the northern region of Saskatchewan by the Northern Lights School Division. Junior kindergarten and kindergarten students from Pre Cam School in La Ronge and Ministik School in Cumberland House will be the first to participate in this new program.

MN-S President Glen McCallum said, “Our Métis Nation-Saskatchewan government partnered with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) in 2018 and worked in tandem with Elders to integrate content and distinctions-based Métis cultural perspectives in the classroom. The language programs are the result of this cooperation.

During its pilot year in 2020, the Michif and Dene Language Early Learning Programs (MELLP/DELLP) supported 130 kindergarten and kindergarten students in six school divisions.

Since expanding to 11 schools in the 2021-2022 school year, the program has supported more than 300 Métis children with Heritage Michif, Northern Michif, French Michif and Dene.

“Being able to nurture the cultural revitalization of our children to their family unit is extremely rewarding,” McCallum said.

According to an email response from MN-S, “Métis people are often the forgotten ones and there was a gap in Métis language and culture within the education system. MN-S saw the need to ensure there is access to Métis language and culture within the education system.

The expansion of early language learning programs is expected to attract more than 600 young students across the province.

The MN-S partnership further supports efforts to promote, preserve, protect and revitalize Indigenous languages, MN-S said.