Sherwood Park, AB. — National Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated across Canada on June 21, offers an opportunity for us to celebrate the Indigenous voices in our communities, to reflect on the steps schools are taking towards Reconciliation, and also to recognise the important work that still needs to be done to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and histories into education. One of the voices that will help guide Elk Island Public Schools’ journey over the next school year is Jeremy Albert, a new member of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education team.
While Jeremy is new to the Division, he’s no stranger to education. With almost 20 years of experience under his belt, he’ll continue to build upon the foundation Elder Wilson has laid out, while bringing his own perspectives and talents to the conversation as well.
“The work we do is all about the young people,” Jeremy says. “We want to prepare the next generation for the challenges they might face in the future. We want them to be able to take the teachings we share and use them to make the world a better place for everyone.” Among other things, this means ensuring that young, Indigenous students are able to see themselves reflected in the school system, and that non-Indigenous students can gain a more complete perspective of the stories, cultures and histories that make up the other half of our shared treaty relationship.
Jeremy says the most effective way to share these stories, and make them impactful, is to focus on establishing relationships with students, families, teachers and administrators. He admits, this is especially difficult to do during a pandemic, but the work has already begun. “I’ve been having virtual conversations with teachers at schools throughout the Division,” he says. “It’s an important first step that will lay the groundwork for the next school year. I’ve been learning about the histories of schools, what their education needs are, and how I can best support them in their goals.”
Relationship-building is an ongoing journey, but once the foundations are laid, Jeremy hopes to continue to build on the Indigenous language learning and land-based teachings started by Elder Wilson and other members of the Indigenous Education team. “I’m a Cree language learner myself, and I think it’s important to incorporate each territory’s traditional language into our teachings. And while I’m not from the Elk Island region, I want to work to connect schools with local knowledge-holders, to learn more about our interactions with this land, and its animals, plants and medicines.”
Welcome to the Elk Island Public Schools family, Jeremy, and thank you for the perspectives that you, and all the other members of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Education team bring to our school communities.
Elk Island Public Schools is one of Alberta’s largest school divisions, serving approximately 17,400 students in 43 schools. We are proud to be an integral part of our communities, including Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Strathcona and Lamont counties, and the western portion of the County of Minburn.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Laura McNabb, Director, Communication Services, 780-417-8204