PRINCE ALBERT - The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) has announced that they will be expanding their Early Learning Language Program across the province.
Six new school divisions are partnering with the Early Learning and Child Care Ministry (ELCC) to bring the Michif and Dene languages to young students in all 12 MN-S regions.
At its March meeting, the Provincial Métis Council approved the expansion of the Early Learning Language Programs to six new school divisions including Living Sky, Northern Lights, Horizon, Good Spirit and Prairie Valley.
Cree language learning programs will also now be offered in the northern region of Saskatchewan by the Northern Lights School Division. Students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at the Pre Cam School in La Ronge and Ministik School in Cumberland House will be the first to participate in this new program.
MN-S President Glen McCallum said, “Our Métis Nation-Saskatchewan government partnered with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) in 2018 and has been working in tandem along with elders to integrate distinctions-based Métis cultural content and perspectives in the classroom. The language programs are a result of that cooperation.”
During its pilot year in 2020, the Michif and Dene Early Learning Language Programs (MELLP/DELLP) supported 130 pre-k and kindergarten students in six school divisions.
Since its expansion to 11 schools in the 2021-22 school year, the program has supported over 300 Métis children with Heritage Michif, Northern Michif, French Michif and Dene.
“To be able to nurture cultural revitalization through our children to their family unit is extremely gratifying,” said McCallum.
According to an email response from MN-S, “Métis are often the forgotten people and there was a gap in Métis language and culture within the educational system. MN-S saw the need to ensure that there is access to Métis language and culture within the educational system.”
The expansion of the Early Learning Language programs is expected to attract more than 600 young students province wide.
The MN-S partnership further support efforts to promote, preserve, protect and revitalize Indigenous languages, said MN-S.