Skip to main content
Nutana Collegiate
Inspiring Learning
MAGPIE Initiative


The MAGPIE initiative is a dynamic school experience that targets authentic, foundational knowledge from the rich, rooted history of Indigenous nations and communities in our area. The program name, MAGPIE, says it all — Manifest Academic Growth and Promote Indigenous Excellence. During the semester, students will have the chance to engage and learn language, history, customs, protocols and everyday realities of Indigenous lifestyles in an urban school setting. Students will also be immersed in the gifts of song and dance, ceremony and fine arts. This unique course offers students an opportunity to address identity, self-worth and empowerment. Delving into historical and systemic barriers for Indigenous people, the course identifies the true resiliency and determination required to support this generation of learners.

Diverse Community

The MAGPIE initiative is for young people who:
  • Want to learn through story, ceremony, song, dance, language and land
  • Have shown leadership in their respective schools and would like to develop leadership in culture
  • Have an interest in the gifts of song and dance and would like to develop their skill for ceremony, powwow, theatre and other celebrations
  • Have an interest in Indigenous fine arts and would like to further their skills
  • Enjoy being outdoors to learn off the land and reconnect to the land
  • Would like an opportunity to reclaim identity and the identity of nationhood.


  • Arts in all its forms: hand craft, multi-media/mediums and genres, hide, quills, paint, beads, writing
  • Song and dance: integral to our relationship to the land and sharing our victories
  • Regalia design: personal development of regalia
  • Attire in our daily lives: skirts, ribbon shirts, program attire for community events
  • Storytelling: plugging into the emergence and ideology of Indigenous thought and being
  • Land-based programming: accessing land and ceremony
  • Seasonal ceremonies and activities: lodge ceremonies, rites of passage, women's and men's roles
  • Learning bundle: develop a modern concept for the program while supporting multi-generational reconnecting to ancestral ways of being and knowing


Students have the opportunity to earn up to three credits, depending on their individual program needs. 

Available credits include:
  • English Language Arts 10 and 20
  • Indigenous Studies 10 and 20
  • Environmental Science 20
  • Cultural Arts 30
  • Indigenous Culture 30
  • Indigenous Studies 30
  • Leadership 30
  • Practical and Applied Arts 30 or Arts Education 30


The MAGPIE initiative is open to students entering grades 10, 11 and 12 in September 2023. Students must apply to be considered for the program.

Download a paper copy of the application form here or click on the green button to the right. Students must attend Nutana Collegiate during their time in the program.

The application is due April 6, 2023.

Open House

Nutana Collegiate is hosting an open house at the school for the MAGPIE initiative on Monday, March 20, 2023 from 1-6 p.m. We encourage anyone who is interested in the program to attend. If you are unable to join and have questions, please contact Candace Gadwa at

The MAGPIE Experience

Magpie2.jpgThe T-shirt wrapped bundles in the hands of each student were far from the traditional, hide-wrapped bundles. But for the inaugural group of MAGPIE program students, the bundles they received last June represented a collection of the program's unique learning and experiences.

Introduced during the second semester of the 2019-20 school year, the MAGPIE program—Manifest Academic Growth and Promote Indigenous Excellence—saw more than two dozen Grade 10-12 students from schools across the city come together at Nutana Collegiate.

"I wanted to come to this program because I figured it would be a space meant for me," said Tiana McCabe, a Grade 11 student from Bedford Road Collegiate. "I figured MAGPIE would be an opportunity for me to feel like I belong somewhere and actually feel like I can be my authentic self.

"I look at (the teachers) the same way as my parents; the way they are walking with us is the same way our parents would. They walk side-by-side."

Indigenous learning and culture are the program's foundation and traditional methods of instruction and learning are transformed to introduce or re-engage Indigenous youth in their culture and build a community of learners. The half-day, semester-long program provides an integrated experience that meets curricular outcomes and offers students the opportunity to earn credits such as Cultural Arts, Leadership, and Indigenous Studies that count toward graduation requirements.

"What we wanted to create with our MAGPIE program was to be able to experience those opportunities, to come back to our society's teaching . . . and being able to incorporate that into the classroom," said teacher TJ Warren. "A lot of what we do is based on identity components, and so the program began with instilling a lot of identity, being culturally cognizant, and being able to preserve that component of our societies and the ongoing translation and transmission of our traditions through language."

The high school credit program grew out of Saskatoon Public Schools' Indigenous Ensemble, an extracurricular program that engages elementary and high school students in the traditional and contemporary music, song, dance, traditional arts, and language of Saskatchewan First Nations and Métis people.

Magpie1.jpgThe MAGPIE name carries special significance. Often considered a nuisance bird, it's a parallel to how Indigenous youth are seen by some people in the wider community. However, in the same manner as the magpie, Warren  and co-teacher Candace Gadwa say Indigenous youth are intelligent and adaptive. Their students  are  motivated  by opportunities to grow in the learning and experiences provided through a program that both students and teachers call a "family."

That close community and the ability of both students and teachers to adapt was illustrated just six weeks into the program when in-person learning was discontinued  as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite having to learn from a distance, the majority of students remained engaged in their learning and celebrated success by receiving their bundles.

"They all came here for different things," Warren says, "but when they are here together, they are all here for the same reason."