Gathering 2011

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 – Practitioner

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.

One Arrow First  Nation – Business/Organization

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 Tootoosis – Youth

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  McAdam – Learner

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

Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour

Saskatchewan Ministry of First Nations and Métis Relations

Dakota Dunes CDC

Provincial Library and Literacy Office

Bear ($2,000 – $4,999) sponsors


Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Indigenous Times

Buffalo ($500 – $1,999) sponsors

Casinos Regina and Moose Jaw

Dumont Technical Institute

First Nations Bank of Canada

Information Services Corporation

Northlands College


Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Association (SIGA)

Saskatchewan Ministry of Education – First Nations, Métis and Community Education Branch

Scoles Fine Arts & Framing


SIAST – Saskatchewan Institute for Applied Science and Technology

Mouse (under $500) sponsors

CJNB Radio

MBC Radio

Peace Hills Trust



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