Roy Weasel Fat along with Drs. Kris Magnusson and Cathy Campbell. Faculty of Education Legacy archive (2008).

This article is part of a 2022 Faculty of Education Legacy digitization project and was first published in Legacy 2008.

The new First Nations, Métis, Inuit (FNMI) Master of Education Curriculum Leadership program will help develop the education and curriculum leaders of tomorrow and will emphasize personal development and cultural preservation.

The program is slated to begin in January 2009 and will be offered jointly by the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge in collaboration with Mi’Kai’sto Red Crow Community College. It is also one of a kind in Canada.

“This program focuses on the students themselves,” says Roy Weasel Fat, vice-president academic at Red Crow Community College. Teacher education programs have traditionally emphasized teaching technique – but a good teacher must bring self-knowledge and cultural awareness to the classroom too, he argues. “When you’re dealing with children, you have to be the kind of person children want to be with.”

The FNMI master’s program will include a strong cultural component, allowing students to learn about all facets of their heritage: values, spirituality, history and oral knowledge. This must involve elders who, traditionally, are entrusted with the oral transmission of Blackfoot knowledge. “One has to keep in mind that our cultures are very oral cultures and a lot of information that goes into it isn’t accessible by the Internet or anything like that,” Weasel Fat says. “In order for the younger generations to teach their culture and language to students, they must be able to harness this oral knowledge base.”

“The FNMI program builds on the principles of the Niitsitapi Teacher Education Program,” says FNMI Curriculum Leadership Coordinator Dr. Cathy Campbell. “Many students felt the program changed them as human beings and hence, made them better teachers. The Niitsitapi program was about more than preparing Blackfoot teachers; it was about the development of human beings who would work in the classroom.”

The FNMI program is open to all students but will focus on Blackfoot culture, Campbell explains:

Considering that the U of L and Lethbridge sit on the traditional lands of Blackfoot-speaking nations, it is appropriate for the FNMI master’s program to reflect its culture and language.”

Dr. Kris Magnusson, associate vice-president academic, says the program has already garnered a great deal of student interest. Even before the program was formally announced, the admissions waiting list had 20 names.

“The intention of the program is to create the knowledge, skills and attitudes for students to in fact become curriculum leaders,” explains Magnusson. “That means not being bound by current conceptions – and limitations – of FNMI curriculum (or, for that matter, traditional educational curriculum), but rather using FNMI (and in this case, Blackfoot specific) ways of knowing to guide the development of strategies for knowledge acquisition. In other words, FNMI curriculum leaders will both develop new content and new ways of learning that content that are representative of Blackfoot ways of knowing.”

This article first published in the Faculty of Education Legacy 2008.

For more information please contact:

Darcy Tamayose
Communications Officer
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
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