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Indian Control Of Indian Education: A Brief History

Doug Cuthand

The philosophy of Indian control of Indian education has its roots in Saskatchewan. Over the past two decades, Saskatchewan Indian leaders have recognized education as a priority and as a result have become pioneers in the field throughout North America.

In 1969, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians undertook the first major education development, the Education Task Force. At that time, Chief Dave Ahenakew mandated his executive director Sol Sanderson to conduct the task force. The task force was headed by Rodney Soonias and developed a comprehensive statement of the state of Indian education in Saskatchewan. The two volume report became the watershed for Indian control of Indian education. Prior to that the Department of Indian Affairs had been busy imposing a system of integrated schools on the bands and transferring federal schools in the north to provincial control. As a result of the pressure created by the report, school which had been transferred in the north returned to federal responsibility in 1973.

In 1972, the National Indian Brotherhood education committee chaired by Clive Linklater, developed a statement on Indian control of Indian education. This statement went forward and in 1973 was endorsed by the Canadian Government. The minister of Indian Affairs at that time was Jean Cretian and George Manuel was the leader of the National Indian Brotherhood.

In 1972, the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College was established and Ken Goodwill became the first director. The College went on to develop a series of programs and became the hub of the Indian education developments that would continue on into the next decade. It nurtured the developmental work which evolved into Indian controlled school programs and post-secondary institutions.

Also at that time, things began to happen at the local level. In 1973, the James Smith Band withdrew its stu dents from Kinistino school and assumed control over education. Also at that time, similar education centres developed at Thunderchild and Little Pine Reserves.

In 1974, the Indian Cultural College began professional training which was to evolve into the Indian Federated College. The first program was an Indian social work program with an academic link to the school of social work at the University of Regina. Also that summer, training for teachers began at the Prince Albert Student Residence. Ida Wasacase headed up the professional development program.

As Indian education developed, more and more people became employed in the field and professional and para-professional associations were formed under the authority of the FSIN. The organizations were the Indian Language Instructors Association, the Indian Guidance Counsellors Association, Child Care Workers Association, and the Indian Associate Teachers Association.

The following summer in 1975, summer school training programs were offered to approximately 220 students in three locations, Little Pine Reserve, Prince Albert Indian Residential School and the Qu'Appelle Indian Student Residence.

In 1976, the Indian Federated College was established at the University of Regina and the Indian Community College was established in Saskatoon. Both of these institutions were direct spinoffs from the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College. Ida Wasacase was the first director of the Federated College and Tony Sparvier was the first director of the Community College.

The summer school program that year offered courses for approximately 200 at the Prince Albert Indian Residential School, Saskatoon and the Qu'Appelle Indian Residential School.

Also at that time, on reserve teacher education programs were started with students living on reserve and taking classes on reserve. Teacher training programs were in place at the James Smith Reserve, the Little Pine Reserve and at Stanley Mission which is part of the La Ronge Band.

Among the numerous bands who took control of their schools, the first were Red Earth, Montreal Lake, Sturgeon Lake and James Smith.

As education developments continued at the local, District and Regional level, it became apparent to the chiefs that they must come forward with more policy on Indian control of Indian education and institutions. In 1980 the chiefs gave a mandate to the FSIN to research and bring forward an Indian Education Act for consideration by the Legislative Assembly. This led to the establishment of the interim Saskatchewan Indian Education Commission.

At this time, on reserve teacher education programs continued this time at Red Earth and the Beardy's Reserves. In 1982, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Con-

Indian Control Of Indian Education: A Brief History

Doug Cuthand

vention was developed and accepted by the Chiefs Assembly and also that year, the constitution acts sections 25 and 35 (1) recognized and entrenched the treaties and special status of Indians in Canada.

In 1985, the FSIN Convention Act was passed into law by the Legislative Assembly. Also that year, the FSIN passed into law, the Financial management Act, the Personnel Management Act and the Code of Ethics for executive and employees was ratified by the FSIN legislative assembly.

In 1985, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, formerly the Saskatchewan Indian Community College, established a satellite college system which included welding at the Kakawestahaw Reserve in the Yorkton District; Plumbing and Heating at Muskeg Lake Reserve in the Saskatoon District; and Recreation Technology in the Qu'Appelle Indian Education Centre.

The Thunderchild Technical Institute was established and, along with the National Indian Forestry Institute established by the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, both established a working relationship with the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT).

In 1986, the S.I.I.T. Act was passed through third reading by the Legislative Assembly of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. Also, the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College Act was tabled for amendments for third reading.

Both the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College Act and the FSIN Education Act passed through first reading.

In 1987, the FSIN Indian Education Act passed through second and third reading.

The results for Indian Control of Indian Education in Saskatchewan have been monumental. Over the past twenty years, many individuals have been involved in developing Indian education. Currently, the FSIN operates three institutions, the Indian Cultural Centre, the Indian Federated College, and the Institute of Technologies. Each institution has a separate board appointed directly or indirectly by the chiefs of Saskatchewan. The SIIT board consists of the district representatives, the SIFC board consists of district appointments along with members from the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, the Province of Saskatchewan and the department of Indian Affairs. The Cultural Centre has a board consisting of district and agency appointments. Members of the Senate of the FSIN are also included on all the boards.

The Indian Cultural Centre continues to be a developmental institution in support of Indian control of Indian eduation at all levels. The Indian Federated College has developed a wide range of programs and has turned out numerous graduates over the past decade.

The Indian Institute of Technologies Act is now a fully developed community college with satellite institutions throughout the province. It too, has turned out a vast amount of trained technicians.

The future for Indian control of Indian education in Saskatchewan is limited only by the imagination of the people involved. We still have many areas to be developed and we still have a rapidly growing population that needs to be serviced. The future for Indian education in Saskatchewan remains bright.