On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Network and Executive Director, Carol Vandale, we would like to extend our thanks to those who supported and attended the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Awards Gala 2011.
On this night, we honoured and recognized Aboriginal individual and organizational effort in the development, enhancement, and/or promotion of Aboriginal literacy in Saskatchewan. We congratulated and proudly presented awards to the following recipients honoured at the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Awards Gala 2011.
Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Award Winners 2011
June Pedersen – Elder
June Pedersen is a Community Elder in her early 70’s. She was born in Fort McKay Alberta. Her mother was a First Nations Cree woman who lost her Treaty Status for marrying a man of English European descent. June left Fort McKay as a young adult and spent time in various cities including: Uranium City, Edmonton, Prince Albert and finally, Saskatoon. June worked as an educator in various locations. In Saskatoon she spent many years working with abused women in institutions such as: Adele House, interval House, and Family Support Centre. June retired only to return to work as a Community Elder in Bishop Klein School. Presently, June continues to share her knowledge as an advisor with Corrections of Saskatchewan.
Edward Mirasty is a proud member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and has been married for almost twenty years to his high-school sweetheart. From a legal definition, he is defined as a Cree Indian from the Little Red River Reserve. Because he grew up in the urban center for most of his life he considers himself a member of the “West Flat First Nations”. During his childhood, he was exposed to a diversified lifestyle and economy that has shaped his worldview. For instance, his Dad’s side of the family came from a hunter/trapper society while his mother’s family reflected an agricultural economy. The decline of the fur-trade coupled with the uncertainty of the farming industry, prompted his grandfather to emphasize an education for all his grandchildren.
Edward feels blessed to have experienced both economies because it has given him an appreciation and respect for the environment. However, as he reflects back on his experiences in hunting, trapping and farming, he feels compelled to emphasize education as it is the only sustainable resource our First Nations have. His academic journey has opened many doors and opportunities that many of his family and friends were denied. The achievement of a Masters Degree in education was a proud moment for Edward because it demonstrated that anything is possible. Despite the poverty, social disharmony and family dysfunction that many second/third generation Residential School Survivors have experienced, he expresses that we have the capacity to overcome any challenge.
Determination, strength, community dedication, and empowerment are true descriptions of One Arrow First Nation’s connection to adult literacy. Carlton Trail Regional College would like to nominate this amazing group for their great strides, achievements, and outcomes towards adult literacy. These strides have led to stopping intergenerational issues, created individual and group empowerment, and created social change.
Carlton Trail Regional College (CTRC) has had a strong working relationship with One Arrow community and its leaders. We have been fortunate to have had first-hand experience with One Arrow’s amazing commitment to their community.
Last year One Arrow and CTRC met to formulate plans in education. Chief Dwayne Paul voiced several desires and educational goals for his members. He stated that literacy needs have become obvious and present in his community and that his members deserved a higher education and more opportunities. Chief Paul’s mission was to have his members educated while being strongly supported by their community and leaders to make education goals possible. He focused on a five year plan: to have members advance from literacy levels 1 to 4, to move on to post-secondary training and then advance to stable employment. Chief Paul believed that education was the key that would open the door to success, independency, and security for his members and their families.
CTRC and One Arrow partnered. In the 2010/2011 academic year, 200 One Arrow members took part in CTRC’s intake process. Literacy levels, academic readiness, resilience, and personal experiences/needs were assessed. Out of the 200 applicants approximately 150 were placed into appropriate educational programs based on their needs and skills.
One Arrow worked diligently to minimize barriers for the learners. From CTRC’s experience, all adult learners have the desire to advance in education however many times barriers interfere. Without assistance learners are unable to overcome those barriers. Support via childcare, transportation, and financial incentives created immense opportunities for learners to succeed, especially when the support was coupled with consistent community encouragement and the presence of leadership. The support not only had positive outcomes in the academic realm; crime and break-and-enters on the One Arrow First Nation have been dramatically reduced since programs have been operating. Equally important throughout the academic year, the participants have learned to believe in themselves and the power that they have as an individual and as a team, feel valued by their community and leaders, feel connected to something important, and to empower self and others to impact the world.
Shayla Jilleen Tootoosis is a 15-year-old grade nine student from Winston Knoll Collegiate. She is from Poundmaker and Little Black Bear First Nations. Shayla loves to read and write, and strives for high academic standards. She is looking forward to continuing her education at university. Shayla embraces her culture and spirituality and is always willing to share and educate others. She likes volunteering and helping others and would love to work with a natural disaster relief team.
Gail was born on December 27, 1982 in Big River Saskatchewan to parents, Clara and Steve. Gail has six biological sisters and three biological brothers. She is from Big River First Nations but was raised in Saskatoon by her adopted parents, Frank and Madeline, since the age of five. She has five adopted sisters and six adopted brothers, and she feels blessed to have a large family. Family is extremely important to her.
Gail is 28 years old and has seven beautiful children; four girls and three boys. She has attended SIAST since 2007 and does not regret one moment of her decision to return to school. She has graduated from the Adults 12 program. Her determination was that her kids would have someone to look up to, to understand that school is important and that there is nothing they can’t accomplish in life.
Gail has been actively involved in leadership roles in both Adult 10 and Adult 12 programs. She has acted as a student leader for new student orientations and was the MC for awards ceremonies numerous times. She also volunteered to assist in fundraising activities for graduation.
Gail has faced many struggles along her educational journey but has persevered with the help of her sister Pearlene, her brother Robert and her mother. Their belief in her gave her strength to complete her grade 12.
Thank You Gathering Sponsors
Eagle (over $5,000) sponsors
Bear ($2,000 – $4,999) sponsors
Buffalo ($500 – $1,999) sponsors
Mouse (under $500) sponsors