Brandon University hosts professional development for Sioux Valley School

by NationTalk on September 4, 2009975 Views

September 3, 2009

BRANDON, MB – In a new and collaborative initiative, the Faculty of Education at Brandon University is welcoming the entire staff of Sioux Valley School, as well as community members, for a week of shared professional development.”As an institution committed to the education and advancement of Aboriginal people, Brandon University appreciates the significance of this curriculum development initiative for the Sioux Valley School,”says Jerry Storie, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brandon University. “This is the kind of professional partnership and collaboration that makes us all better educators. We look forward to expanding partnerships between Brandon University and First Nation educators across Manitoba.”

The week of professional development started on Monday, August 31 st and is an initiative of Sioux Valley Education Authority and a research team at Brandon University headed by Dr. Helen Armstrong.

The team is working on an action research project, entitled Community-Based Aboriginal Curriculum Initiatives. It is based on integrating, and then examining the impact of Aboriginal cultural instruction in participating schools. The team measures relate to learning, school attendance, and retention of Aboriginal students, as well as self-esteem and identity development.

“The title for our professional development institute is ‘Wana Waunspe UnkikÄ‹upi’, which in the Dakota language means ‘taking back our learning now’,” says Dr. Armstrong. “Together we are exploring how to meet the needs of our students from Sioux Valley by creating a Dakota community school. It’s very exciting work.”

During this week of professional development, staff from the Sioux Valley School community are involved in workshops and discussions with members from the Brandon University Faculty of Education, as well as colleagues from the Faculty of Science. Nearly half of the Faculty of Education will be participating in the week’s events.

Olivia Pratt-Murdock, teacher at Sioux Valley School for 14 years and presently curriculum designer for the SSHRC/CURA program at Brandon University, says, “The purpose of the week-long professional development is to indigenize the Manitoba curriculum so that the students of Sioux Valley School will be taught in a culturally relevant school setting, specifically acknowledging the culture, traditions, languages and the epistemologies of the Dakota Nation.”

Brandon University is a leader in providing education for Aboriginal students in Manitoba. A study by the Provincial Government ( shows that in Manitoba:

• 81% of Aboriginal teachers employed at First Nation Schools are from Brandon University
• 30% of Aboriginal teachers employed at Provincials Schools are from Brandon University
• 50% of Aboriginal teachers are from Brandon University


For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Jerry Storie
Dean, Faculty of Education
Brandon University
P: (204) 727-9656

Dr. Helen Armstrong
Project Director, SSHRC/CURA
Brandon University
P: (204) 727-7329

Brant Batters
Communications Officer
Brandon University
P: (204) 727-9762

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