The Saskatoon Tribal Council celebrated its second cohort of High School graduates of the Pathways program
- Memory McLeod
Indigenous high school student in Saskatoon who need a little extra support to complete their secondary schooling can access the help they need thanks to Pathway program.
In 2019 the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) partnered with Pathways to Education Canada, the Saskatoon Public and Greater Catholic School Divisions to create a partnership, which is a source of pride for STC Tribal Chief Mark Arcand.
“The support provided by the program is open to Grade 9 to 12 students who are First Nation, Métis, or Inuit and enrolled in high school within Saskatoon,” said Arcand. “The focus is on the students, what they need to do well in school, to make those improvements, set goals and move toward them. We provide cultural support, elders who listen and give guidance. There is smudging in the classroom to begin, it really brings people, students together,” he said.
The program was created in response to disproportionately low graduation rates and low student retention.
Pathways to Education Canada delivers programming to communities that face barriers to educational success for highschoolers. The program aims to support parents and students who face issues that may contribute to higher drop out or truancy rates, said Chief Operating Director Michelle Blackmon.
“Monday to Friday we work with the teachers during the day to find out what assignments and projects a student may be working on and get that feedback we need to provide the kind of assistance they need in our after-hours program,” she said. “Each evening we provide a hot meal, our tutors are there. We are unique in this program because we don’t only operate from one building, students from all over the city can attend on each side of the river.”
It ultimately provides a sense of community through peer support and afterschool dinner and tutoring programs is fundamental to the success of the program according to Blackmon.
“Once a week we go on an outing for team building, to de-stress and have down time to process the week and celebrate some personal milestones,” she said. “We also provide a monetary incentive for students toward graduation with a $500 credit for each grade they finish, which is awarded to them upon completion. It’s designed to support relationship building. Our staff is dedicated to providing advocacy, counseling, mediation, and elders who listen and give good feedback.”
Blackmon said she wants to see all students succeed and believes with a good support system they can. “We have been proud to see some of our grads receive prestigious scholarships and outside bursaries to recognize their academic success as part of our unique program,” she said. “It encourages us to keep pressing forward toward raising the number of graduates.”
The program is ongoing and in the summer, it provides bus passes for participants.
For more information about the Pathways to Education program contact Shawn Churchill, STC Corporate Communications Specialist, at 306-965-6100.