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Key School Committee Met With Local School Boards

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      DECEMBER 1974      v04 n10 p12  
Keys - Problems of the Kay Indian children were recently discussed at a meeting held recently between the Key School Committee, the Norquay School Committee, the Sturgis School Unit Board and Norquay High School staff.

William Shynskiw, Norquay High School principal, opened the meeting by passing out a written report on the student's truancy and other disciplinary problems. About 90 per cent of the incidents involved the 11 high school children from the Key Reserve.

Mr. Shynskiw's report read as follows: "The schooling of children from Keys Indian Reserve has always been frustrating and to a large extent unsuccessful, particularly as they reached their adolescent years. Motivation for learning was always difficult, discipline problems always accompanied them, truancy was common, and acceptance by their peers rarely achieved."

"The number of absences due to parental neglect or to truancy on the part of the student is significant and largely responsible for the disappointing measure of success."

"Some of the Key Indians students were not promoted on the basis of merit but rather because they were getting too old for the elementary school environment."

It further read: "In view of the dismal record of promotions, my plans as principal were to tighten the supervision to reduce the truancy problem; this was to be followed up by remedial work during the winter months. However, there was a radical change within the Indian student group. They had been incited to disobedience by a party outside their group or by a party from within the group. Disciplinary measures were tried, but the disobedience did not stop.

“About the 23rd of September, Mr, Hudyma and Mr. R. Cote from the Department of Indian Affairs were called in to assist. Their team recommendation was to relax disciplinary measures. This was tried for about a week and a half. The students came, used the washrooms, defaced the walls, and left. They would return about 3:20 to again use the washroom. This method was obviously unsuccessful. When this group began to interfere with classes and teachers, a policy of suspensions for truancy and disorderly conduct were instituted.”

Mr. Shynskiw's report further stated, "Neither my staff nor I want any part of confrontation with Kay Band nor with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians. The matter is now in the hands of the Norquay Central Board and Sturgis School Unit Board. For the benefit of the boards, who will have to decide on this matter, I have stated to record the problems, particularly disciplinary, that we have with this group.

The report went on to say, in this area as in others, there is disregard and disobedience. The report I have presented indicates that there are problems. It also indicates that the style of school does not meet with the aspirations and whims of this deviant group.

Chief Sterling Brass felt that there is a big communication barrier. He does not want to have an incident like Turtleford, Saskatchewan where all Indian children were pulled out of school.

Tony Cote gave an outline where they had the same type of problems in the schools of Kamsack. “There,” he said, “the teachers and principals were willing to pull together. Today the problems of Indian children missing school purposely and misbehaving has been cut down by almost 90 per cent. There is a difference when the teachers and band council work together.”

There were reports also given by the Key School Committee of manhandling the Indian students in front of other kids. Some felt that the Indian children had built a shell around themselves called an inferority, complex. They stick together because they are hurt and frustrated. They try their best to stay away from school because they are afraid to receive more abuse from the principal and teachers.

The teachers also believe that manhandling the children are one sure way of getting something across.

The teachers also felt that Mr. Shynskiw is doing a terrific job and has a lot of patience.

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Key School Committee Met With Local School Boards

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      DECEMBER 1974      v04 n10 p13  
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Just recently, Mr. Shynskiw has been charged by the parents of one child from the Key Reserve for assault where there was an alleged hair-pulling and roughing up of one child. The child ran home in an hysterical state.

Mr. Olynek, the superintendent of the Sturgis School Unit, made a suggestion in trying to win one child over in a week or a month. The Key School Committee and teachers, were to spend a few minutes each day to win the child's confidence.

There was a suggestion also from the Key's representatives to phone up the Kay band office each time there was incidents or truancy by the Indian students, which would only take only a. matter of a two minute phone call. The Key School Committee felt it was their problem because it is their children who are involved.

Mr. Shynskiw concluded by saying, "The Indian children and parents want me to perform miracles. It is impossible for me as a principal to do what is requested. There is rehabilitation problems for some of them. I am too old to change now. I am not going to block anyone from resolving this problem. I'll step down if I'm in the way."

Sterling Brass stated, "I am not going to stop there. I will pursue this matter even if it is partially resolved. I am prepared to have my students in a separate classroom or even a school of our own on the reserve. The future of my children is far too much important for me to quit. I am also willing to sit down with anyone who is willing to straighten out this matter."