Na'teliaq May 2012 ANTEC 2012 Attracts Over 500 First Nation Educators to Cape Breton More than 500 First Nation educators from Atlantic Canada con



May 2012

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Keynote speaker Dr. Marie Battiste and grandson Jacoby being read 'Walter the Farting Dog' by author and guest speaker Glenn Murray.

ANTEC 2012 Attracts Over 500 First Nation Educators to Cape Breton

More than 500 First Nation educators from Atlantic Canada convened in Sydney for professional development at ANTEC 2012 held May 16 -18.

The bi-annual Atlantic Native Teachers’ Education Conference (ANTEC) provides professional development, through workshops and hands-on sessions, to educators who teach or work with First Nations students in Band operated schools, provincial schools, and post-secondary institutions. Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and the Unama’ki College of Cape Breton University co-hosted this year’s conference, Student Success in the 21st Century, at Cape Breton University.

Patrick Johnson, coordinator of this year’s conference, says the overwhelming positive response from participants attests to the strength of First Nation education across the region.

“These three days are not just a chance for First Nation educators to expand upon their knowledge and skills as education professionals,” he said. “It's an opportunity to celebrate our progress in making advances in First Nation education across Atlantic Canada.”

Sessions focused on emerging technology, family and community engagement, early childhood education, positive school environments, the First Nations Student Success Program, Elders, and Mi'kmaw language and culture.

Internationally acclaimed Indigenous scholar, Dr. Marie Battiste, originally from Potlotek First Nation, gave a keynote address at an opening plenary session Thursday morning alongside representatives from the Nova Scotia Department of Education, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Cape Breton University, and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey.

Author Glenn Murray was a guest speaker during that evening’s banquet. Murray is the co-creator of the award winning, New York Times Bestselling Series, Walter the Farting Dog. The series is currently being made into a Hollywood motion picture with Paramount-Nickelodeon.

Among the more than 50 presenters was Wayne MacKay, Chairman of the Nova Scotia Taskforce on Bullying and Cyberbullying and Julian Bolster, leadership coach and co-author of a novel with Deepak Chopra.

View all photos from ANTEC here.

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Numbers Add Up for Annual Show Me Your Math! Fair

The numbers added up for this year’s Show Me Your Math! regional math fair at St. Francis Xavier University. On May 2, the university’s Bloomfield Centre was host to over 300 Aboriginal students sharing mathematical research with teachers, peers, and community members. 

Almost every student from an MK school created a project for this year’s fair. Students discovered and explored math in areas you wouldn’t think possible! Math was found in dance, the month of May, making pizza, playing Battleship, quilting, language, wigwams, the human body, archery, basket-making, shopping, hockey, baseball, wampum belts, and carpentry!

“Math is a contact sport,” says MK’s Numeracy Consultant, Bob Crane. “If the students aren’t actively practicing in the classroom then nothing is going on. With an event like this, students are working at something hands-on and therefore actually doing mathematics."

He adds that this year the committee has made efforts to tie Show Me Your Math! Even closer to Mi’kmaq culture. 

“By doing mathematics, students are learning mathematics. They’re also learning about their communities, and that’s the biggest impact.”

Over 3,000 students in Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey schools have participated in the fair since its launch in 2006. It has expanded this year to include public schools in Nova Scotia that serve Mi’kmaw communities in the Strait, Chignecto Central, and Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Boards. Show Me Your Math is unique in that the students’ projects are showcased and celebrated in a non-competitive atmosphere. 

“In this type of environment, students are comfortable and excited to share what they have learned,” says Lisa Lunney Borden, Assistant Professor in First Nations and Math Education at St. Francis Xavier University. “We let the students become the researchers, and sharing their projects with their peers, family and Elders gives them a great sense of accomplishment and pride.” 

Funding has been received to introduce a two-day summer institute to develop new curricular materials drawing from the projects. The goal is to eventually transform these ideas into culturally rooted materials for teachers in Nova Scotia and beyond. 

“We will see projects that are culturally relevant to our students and align them with the curriculum,” says Crane. “Our goal is to bring more cultural aspects into our teaching, tie the curriculum to the communities, and therefore, make math more relevant to the students.” 

This year’s event was supported by Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, the Nova Scotia Department of Education (Mi’kmaw Services Division), Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum, Aboriginal Health Initiative Program, and St. Francis Xavier University. 

Click here to see more of the amazing work done by students at Show Me Your Math!

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Source: Cape Breton University

Unama'ki College Dedicates Language Lab to Kji-keptin Alexander Denny

On May 1, Cape Breton University’s Unama’ki College formally named its language lab in honour of the late Kji-keptin Alexander Denny (1940-2004).

The Kji-keptin Alexander Denny L’nui’sultimkeweyo-kuom is a focal point for academic research activity at Unama’ki College. The lab is engaged in several long-term research projects including Mi’kmaw pain words; the online talking Mi’kmaw dictionary; and the online Mi’kmaw Language Centre, JILAPTOQ. Through the Atlantic Canada First Nation Help Desk, the lab is equipped with a Polycom unit that allows for video conferencing to take place with other First Nation communities. The lab dedication was live streamed to schools and offices across the region and was available to view via webcast on

A lifetime member of the Sante Mawio’mi, Kji-keptin Denny fought for Mi’kmaw sovereignty and was an overall outstanding leader for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia. Kji-keptin Denny dedicated his life to instilling the importance of Mi’kmaw teachings, beliefs, culture and language in his people, and stressed the importance of the language and passing it on to future generations.

Remarks were delivered during the dedication ceremony by Kji-keptin Alexander Denny’s son, Kji-keptin Antle Denny. Kji-keptin Denny noted that his father would be proud that communities continue to work hand in hand to revive the Mi’kmaq language. He further emphasized that while progress has been made, work must continue, by everyone in Mi’kmaw’ki, to keep the language alive.

“L’nui’sultimkeweyo-kuom is a chance for every person to come and learn about the Mi’kmaw language and culture,” says Kji-keptin Denny. “I hope that this new language lab brings in young people from all over the world and tells them who we are. This is just a start, but I’m so proud of Cape Breton University for taking this initiative.”

Remarks were also given from Unama’ki College, Cape Breton University, the Office of Nova Scotia Aboriginal Affairs, and members of several First Nation communities. A video presentation created in honour of Kji-keptin Denny was shown. Kalolin Johnson, Michael R. Denny, and the Stoney Bear Drummers provided entertainment. Tours of the lab were given after the event, and a traditional feast prepared by family members and friends was provided.

A recording of the dedication can be found at the Atlantic Canada First Nation Help Desk website. Photos from the event can be viewed here.

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Front row: Annika Braithwaite, Plsit Dennis, Nikhea Bernard, Anne Marie Marchand, Leon Paul, Arielle Gould, Jasmine Johnson, Cindy Jane Bernard, Shannon Googoo-Paul; Back row, Elle Michael, Natasha Bernard, Kateri Stevens, Joanne Julian, Roberta Jo McDonald, Lynn Boyce, Joanne Cope, Natalie Gloade, Dora Gloade, Luisa Martin, Jan Denny, Cynthia Sark, Jay Martin and Melissa Ann Gloade.

Mi'kmaq University Graduates Recognized at Banquet

On Saturday, May 12, twenty-five CBU graduates from seven First Nation communities across the province celebrated their academic accomplishments at a banquet held at Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.

The annual graduation banquet, hosted by the Mi’kmaw Student Association, with presenting sponsors Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and the Unama’ki College of Cape Breton University, honoured individuals from the communities of Membertou, Potlotek, Wagmatcook, Whycocomagh, Eskasoni, Indian Brook and Millbrook.

In the past year, more than 400 First Nation students were enrolled in a post secondary education institution. This spring, more than 100 First Nation students will graduate from either a Nova Scotian university or college.

“First Nation students are going out into the world, confidently expanding their personal horizons and ready to make a change in their communities, and these numbers are only rising,” says Eleanor Bernard, Executive Director at Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. “Today is an incredible accomplishment not only for the students, but also their families, friends and communities. We’re very proud.”

The evening’s dinner saw faculty and staff, mentors, community partners, families and friends come out in celebration.

“The evening is a chance for us to recognize the students for their hard work,” says Ann Sylliboy, Post Secondary Education Counsellor. “It’s also a chance to acknowledge the students’ extended support groups who helped them through their academic journey.”

Congratulations to all!

Click here to view more photos from the event.

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Nova Scotia Schools' Aboriginal Provincial Track and Field Championships

More than 200 students turned out to the Nova Scotia Schools' Aboriginal Provincial Track and Field Championship held on May 14 and 15 at St. Francis Xavier University.

Teams from LSK, Pictou Landing, Eskasoni, Membertou, Waycobah, Wagmatcook, Paq'tnkek, Potlotek and the community of Millbrook laced up and tackled the 60m, 100m, 1500m and relay races.

While the championship meet is an recurring favourite for most, this year's event turned out many first-time runners. Peter Simon, a grade eleven student from Wagmatcook First Nation, decided last minute that while he had never been to a meet before, track and field was something he wanted to try.

"I was always afraid to try new things," says Simon. "Now I'm trying to do everything at least once and get the experience."

He himself is helping youth in his community become more active. In his spare time he trains youth at his local gym. He says many youth are afraid to begin doing physical activity for the first time and to do it alone, and he enjoys helping them overcome this fear and become fit and healthy.

When asked if he'll continue coming to track and field events, Simon says, "Definitely. I don't care if I win or lose, it's all about the experience, and I'm being active and becoming healthy."

He notes that just watching other runners is very inspiring.

"I love track and field so far. You get to see all these future champions."

Darrell Syms, a grade one teacher at Membertou Elementary, agrees that track and field is the kind of sport in which every student, of all ages and abilities, can become involved. All you need is a pair of sneakers.

"It's not about winning," says Syms. "Some kids may not be the fastest runners, but they're still out here trying, participating, and having fun."

See more of the action here!

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Atlantic Canada Represented at 2012 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships

From May 6 - 12, two hockey teams representing Atlantic Canada traveled to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for the 2012 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.

The national championship featured First Nations, Inuit and Metis athletes from each of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada.Team Atlantic was represented by one male and one female team. This is the 11th year the national championships have been held for elite bantam/midget age Aboriginal hockey players.

The goal of the event is to foster cultural unity and pride while celebrating the athletic abilities of Aboriginal athletes from all across the country.

"It is an exciting opportunity for our athletes to have fun and to showcase their talents to teams across the country," says MK Sports Animator and Team Atlantic President, George 'Tex' Marshall.

Before heading to Saskatoon, both teams spent a weekend in Halifax to become acquainted with each other.

"A weekend together before the championship was a great way for everyone to get to know each other and build team spirit before the championship," says Tex.

This seemed to have worked for Team Atlantic! It was a well-played, memorable and winning week for both teams. The girls' game made history as their first win in ten years!

Congratulations to the players, organizers and volunteers on your dedication and hard work!


L-R, Jacqueline M. (Paul) Simon, Vera Sylliboy, Mary Theresa Levesque, Arlene Rose Sylliboy, and Elizabeth Louise Philips. Jeanette Marshall not pictured.

2012 Institute for Human Services Education Graduates

On May 10, six First Nation students from three communities graduated from the Institute for Human Services Education. A ceremony recognizing their achievements was held at the Sarah Denny Cultural Centre in Eskasoni.

This year's Inclusive Education graduates were Mary Theresa Levesque (B.A.) from Potlotek; Jeanette Marshall (E.C.E.) from Chapel Island; Elizabeth Louise Phillips (E.C.E.) from Waycobah; Jacqueline M. (Paul) Simon (E.C.E.) from Eskasoni; Arlene Rose Sylliboy (E.C.E.) from Eskasoni; and Vera Sylliboy (E.C.E., B.A.) from Eskasoni. Mary Theresa Levesque and Vera Sylliboy also graduated with Distinction, which is conferred when the candidate has a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or higher.

A human capacity gap had been identified regarding community early childhood centres and daycares in relation to education for special needs children. The pilot program soon began in Cape Breton and included a student each from Membertou, Wagmatcook, Potlotek, Waycobah, and eight from Eskasoni.

Of the twelve that began the program, half of these students successfully completed the program and became certified this spring. The communities in which these graduates will work will now have the capacity to carry out early intervention. These graduates have the expertise to easily, accurately, and earlier identify children who require special education in their daycares.

Valedictorian Vera Sylliboy addressed the graduating class, and additional remarks were given by Kimberly Elliott, IHSE Executive Director and Governor of Board and Sara Mae Doucette, community Elder. A sweet grass ceremony was led by June Lewis.

A scholarship was given to each graduate from Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey.



Wagmatcook school construction progress. Photo taken early May.

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MK Schools Tuned in to Music Monday

On May 7, approximately 1,100 Cape Breton Island students came together at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre for Music Monday, a nation-wide event organized by the Coalition for Music Education in Canada and designed to bring awareness to the importance of music in the lives of young people.

Membertou Elementary and Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School were among the dozens of choirs and bands from schools in attendance. The event began with a parade of students singing and playing instruments from a Sydney elementary school to the convention centre. Ryan Toney, a grade 7 student, choir and band member at Eskasoni Middle School, opened the event with a traditional drumming song.

“It was all really fun,” says Toney. “It was fun seeing other schools and the band.”

The hour-long event, which included a performance by Cape Breton band the Barra MacNeils, was streamed live online with the help of the Atlantic Canada First Nation Help Desk.

The event's theme song, Tomorrow is Coming, by Luke Doucet, will be released on iTunes as a fundraiser for the Coalition for Music Education. Astronaut and musician Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson will co-write the official song for Music Monday 2013.

For more information on Music Monday, visit the official website


MK Schools Increase Connectivity

Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey has completed a project to upgrade connectivity into the schools. Copper "T1" lines were established in 2003 which, at the time, significantly improved connectivity. Those T1 lines could transmit and receive 1.5 megabits of information. All of the schools shared a 20 MB internet connection.

Now, fibre optics have replaced the old copper lines. These new lines transmit and receive 10 megabits of information, or approximately 6 times the amount of the old connectivity. The shared internet connection has also increased fivefold from 20 to 100 megabits.

Increased connectivity is especially important in today's education. Whether students are looking up information online, teachers are connecting smart boards for lessons, posting grades, or groups are videoconferencing, the new capacity is a great boost. This latest increase of capacity brings First Nations back to a level footing with provincial standards.

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Membertou Elementary Primary Orientation Takes Flight

During the month of May, fourteen students in Membertou Elementary's primary orientation learned the life cycle of a butterfly not only in theory, but in practice!

Over the span of ten days, students took care and watched as eggs turned into caterpillars, chrysalises, then finally butterflies - all in their classroom! At the end of the ten days, students got the opportunity to set free the butterflies that they so closely studied.

Principal Sharon Bernard says it's a fun and educational introduction to the classroom and they'll continue to do it with students each year. "It's a fascinating project and the students were so excited to be hands-on and a part of the whole process."


Upcoming Events

First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP)

FNSSP Committee Meeting
June 20, St.FX University

Discussions will surround the next phase of FNSSP activities, mentoring, and how to move it forward in our communities.


Cast Your Vote in the Red Road Project Public Service Announcement Series

Cast your vote for your favourite public service announcement video created by youth across Atlantic Canada on the Red Road Project's Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The top 3 videos will be announced on Tuesday, June 5 at 10 a.m.

For more information, visit or e-mail


Student Spotlight: A Q&A with St.FX Nursing Student Courtney Pennell

Name, age, and hometown?

My name is Courtney Pennell and I am 26 years old. My hometown is Halifax but my family is from the Mi’kmaq reservation Gold River. 

Why did you decide to pursue university education? 

I was encouraged to become something/someone from a very young age by my family. I’ve always had a soft spot for nursing, and I have a lot of determination to reach my goals. Also, I will be only the second in my immediate family to receive a post secondary degree, and this helps me to work a little harder!

What obstacles have you overcome while completing your education, if any?

I am completing the 2nd year of my program and have found this year particularly challenging, both academically and personally. This year I had an intense course load. Additionally, in March I was involved in a car crash where I suffered a major concussion and multiple soft tissue neck/back injuries. I still work closely with a concussion clinic, and receive physiotherapy and massage for recovery.
What has been your most memorable moment at St.FX? 

I had a great experience the first time I contacted the Aboriginal Student Advisor at St.FX (at the time it was Krista Hanscomb). She was very open, enthusiastic and helpful when I expressed interest in transferring to the school. I’ve also been awarded awards for mentorship and have been invited to speak to classes regarding Cultural Competency and misconceptions of First Nation people within the health care field. I’ve also enjoyed dancing and singing at cultural events held on campus.

What school, activities or groups were you involved in at St.FX? 

I’ve been involved with the Committee for Aboriginal and Black Student Success, International Student Society, the Equity Advising Committee, and Student Life. I’ve assisted the Aboriginal Student Advisor during campus events and I was also the Vice President and President of the Aboriginal Students @ X Society for the past two consecutive years. I was involved with these groups because I believe in equality for all and want to give back to a university that is not only equipped in dealing with adversity in regards to diverse populations, but also supports and meets the unique and necessary needs of these specific populations. 

What has your education taught you that you now bring into your everyday work/studies? 

My education has taught me many things … the biggest would be to never be judgmental because life’s situations can change rapidly and you can very easily end up in the persons shoes in which you have judged. 

I have also learned to care for others as if you’re caring for your own family. Being equipped with these traits allows you to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves and to stand up for what is right!

Are there any areas of growth you’d like to see in Aboriginal education?

I would love to see programs have more culturally specific curriculum, especially in regards to the territory in which you are studying. I would also like to have more hands on, practical opportunities. 

Future plans?

My short-term goal is to successfully complete my second year and feel proud/worthy of entering into my third year - after all I will be halfway there!

I am committed to helping create change for the First Peoples of Canada and overcome the challenges we face within the health care spectrum. 

I also have a special interest in birth and maternity. In the future, I would love to advocate the importance of breastfeeding and kangaroo care. This would help to lower the rates at which child protection services are involved in First Nations families as well as our teen pregnancy rates. 

I also really enjoy the atmosphere that diversity and inclusion strategies promote. The application of culturally safe/competent care builds a trusting relationship between the patient and caregiver, and this leads to shorter hospital stays, especially if the care being provided is safe and effective. 

First Nations/Métis/Inuit peoples fall under a vulnerable population category, putting us at risk for diseases and other ailments at increasing rates, compared to non-aboriginal populations. As part of the seventh generation, I feel it is my duty to step up to the task and help alleviate the ailments of my people.

What do you do in your spare time? 

In my spare time I love to spend time with my family. I am also a Jingle Dress Dancer, and during the summer/early fall months I try to spend every weekend dancing at local/maritime Powwows! I use to partake in Marital Arts but now I like to watch it on TV.

Words of wisdom or advice to share with current and future university students?

Believe in yourself. Confidence and positivity go a long way especially when things get tough. Put forth your best effort. If you’ve set out a goal for yourself, stand strong and follow through. Always establish relationships with faculty. They’re there to help and guide you throughout your degree, so don’t be afraid to reach out! Last but not least, always listen to your heart!


If you wish to submit a story or notice for the June newsletter, please contact Meghan at or (902) 567-0336.

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