Chantel Buffalo and Martine Gauthier, director of Student Development
Chantel Buffalo and Martine Gauthier, director of Student Development

Indigenous education is about teaching, listening and reconciliation

Lessons learned from the 2016 Indigenous Education Symposium

This year's Colleges and Institutes Canada 2016 Indigenous Education Symposium at Yukon College in Whitehorse set out to explore the relationship between reconciliation and education. Three representatives from Saskatchewan Polytechnic were there to take part in the conversation, share experiences and listen to stories.

"The experience was great because we got to meet and talk with others who share the same passion," says Jason Seright, director, Aboriginal Strategy. "It was nice to know what other colleges and institutes are doing in regard to indigenization. This part is very important as we can also learn from what other people are doing and their experiences."

According to Seright, indigenization and reconciliation go hand-in-hand, especially in educational institutions.

"Its important things change and we need to have these tough conversations with an open heart and mind. It's important to be knowledgeable and education does this," says Seright. "It's important so people understand each other. The conversations should not be one-sided nor should the listening. I believe it is our journey to learn from our past and make a better future for our grandchildren."

Seright, along with Martine Gauthier, director of Student Development, had an opportunity to present on what Sask Polytech has been doing to ensure Aboriginal culture and ways of teaching and learning are reflected in all aspects of the institution.
"We were able to share our strategy and approach to indigenous education. We provided highlights of Sask Polytech and how student development and Aboriginal strategy work side-by-side to provide success to students," says Seright.

Conference attendees were also able to hear the personal story of dedication, perseverance and success from hotel and restaurant management student Chantel Buffalo. She says being able to attend and participate in the conference was an exceptional opportunity.

"It made me feel like a new person - like I am capable of helping others like me to make a change. It made me want to continue speaking and reaching out to everyone who has been affected by negativity, such as violence, drugs or alcohol abuse," says Buffalo. "It made me want to learn more and continue being the role model that everyone sees me as." 

Chantel Buffalo is nominated to be a CBC Saskatchewan Future 40! Congratulation to Chantel. She is also featured in our Aboriginal student role model calendar.

Visit Aboriginal Student Achievement Plan to learn more about our Aboriginal strategy.