Investing in the future of a child at home
- By NC Raine | August 26, 2022
A new program aims to help propel young Métis children down the best possible path in life by investing in them at an early age.
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) has made a $3.5 million investment in the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Community Enhancement Program. The grant will provide up to $50,000 to Métis Locals to enhance or develop early learning programs and services.
“Our Métis families and communities, they know what’s best for their children,” said Tim Roussin, MN-S Minister of Early Learning and Child Care.
“It creates a strong beginning for our Métis children. Research has indicated that children who experience this high-quality cultural learning have greater vocabularies, enjoy reading, and have enhanced socialization skills. So, it’s important to get them engaged and active at a very young age.”
The grants are available to all 12 Métis Locals across Saskatchewan through an application process.
The programs for children from infants to eight years of age will be eligible. They will focus on Métis language, values, identity, and culture.
Eligible programs could include: jigging classes, making bannock, storytelling events with Elders or Knowledge Keepers, language development (Heritage Michif, Northern Michif, French Michif, Dene, and Cree) and land-based learning, which could include berry picking, jam making, nature walks, and camp outs.
Roussin said the possibilities are endless.
“It (can have) a positive impact on everyone,” he said. “The whole community seems to benefit from this. It contributes to them having a brighter future and they, in turn, become our Métis leaders of the future.”
The application procedures will be available on the MN-S website.
MN-S President Glen McCallum said its government is committed to building capacity in the Locals that focus on the children and families.
“Métis language programs, learning from our Elders, and land-based learning leads to Métis children being grounded in our Métis culture, values, and language,” he said in prepared statement. “Gifting our children with pride in their Métis identity strengthens our Métis Nation.”
The ultimate goal is to instill an importance in education that leads to increased graduation rates, said Roussin.
According to the Auditor General’s report in 2018, Indigenous graduation rates as a percentage of those who started Grade 12, was only 45 per cent.
Roussin said rates for Métis students in his area are a bit better at 60-65 per cent, he said.
“We want to instill a sense of value and importance in education, and that starts at a young age. If we can pique their interest in culture and language, we think it gives them a strong foundation to push into those middle years, into post-secondary, and ultimately, into our future leaders,” he said.
In the back row, l to r: MN–S Vice President Michelle LeClair, MN–S Minister of Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Tim Roussin and MN-S citizen and educator Angie Caron. In the front from left to right is Darlene McKay, Local 7 President (wearing white) and Local 7 Elder and Language Keeper Sophie McDougall (in the purple flowers). (Photo supplied by MN-S)