By Carlie Connolly
Since being hired by Prairie Rose School Division in September, Lee Ann Charbonneau has been making quite the impact in showing her support for Aboriginal people. She has been Identifying FNMI students and contacting their parents finding out what those students and families need from PRSD to be successful.
Alberta Education has recognized through consultation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and people, that parents and families want to be part of the education of their children. The second part is that students do much better when families are involved. Charbonneau said that in the child’s younger years, parents could become volunteers or attend school functions, and have open communication with their school administrators and teachers.
“When parents or families are involved, the students do much better. They perform better academically and they have better experiences socially,” she said.
Prairie Rose has taken her on as their first ever liaison officer for that division.
“I’m really pleased to have the role and really pleased that Prairie Rose is getting onboard with this provincial aim to close the gap between aboriginal students performance and non-aboriginal students performance in Alberta.”
Her goal is to raise success rates for Métis, First Nations and Inuit students in the division and hopes to grow the division’s FNMI committee, putting together programming and curriculum for the division.
Statistics show 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population are considered FNMI, up from 3.8 per cent in 2006.
In Canada, FNMI is also the fastest growing population, and also the youngest population, she said – meaning there will be more young people coming through the education system.
PRSD has 56 families and 78 students who identify as FNMI, Charbonneau said.
With a 2.75 per cent aboriginal population for the area, the numbers are in line with what’s being seen across the country, she said.
“One of the goals is to raise awareness of aboriginal culture, show the successes of aboriginal people, and celebrate aboriginal people,” Charbonneau said.
Another goal is to collect information on FNMI-based events and initiatives are already happening around the division, she said, while also building available resources for the division such as connecting with elders and people in the community with knowledge of aboriginal culture.
Her position has started out with establishing communications with the schools and parents. She’s met the principals in all the schools with students of First Nations, Métis and Inuit kids in them.
As the time goes on she will be unraveling different programs and is looking forward to the response from community.