Sharing Métis culture and the Michif language with early learners is the purpose of the Mii Taant leur Plaas (Auntie's Place) program at Westmount Community School
Westmount, a centre for Métis/Michif learning, offers full-day prekindergarten and kindergarten programs that give students the opportunity to learn Michif language and culture with a focus on traditions, customs, and beliefs.
"Our programs preserve and strengthen ways of knowing and doing through Michif language and values-based teaching," said teacher Lyla Phillips. "They are purposefully designed to support children and their families in acquiring language and a strong identity. We learn through traditional visiting, meaningful play, songs, games, and land-based exploration."
Prekindergarten runs full days Monday to Thursday, while the full-day kindergarten classroom welcomes students Monday through Friday. The programs are open to students city-wide, with free transportation available throughout Saskatoon. Enrolment preference is given to families and their children who self-identify as Métis/Michif; however the programs are open to all students.
The program will hold an open house on Thursday, May 5, beginning at 6 p.m. More information and registration forms are available on the Michif Early Learning Program website.
Mii Taant leur Plaas is supported by funding from Métis Nation-Saskatchewan that provides for Michif Language Keeper and teacher staffing, full-day learning and student transportation, professional learning opportunities, and the creation and distribution of Métis/Michif resources.
In addition to classroom teachers, essential learning experiences are shared by Métis/Michif teachers and supported by Lii Vyeu (Old Peoples), language speakers, knowledge keepers, community, partners, and families.
The goal of Mii Taant leur Plaas is to support students in language acquisition, boost academic success, create a strong cultural identity, and encourage connections to community. Family engagement reflects the importance of the traditional role of Métis/Michif families in the development of a child's identity and learning.
"We all have a shared responsibility to ensure our children's success," said Faye Maurice a Michif traditional knowledge keeper. "Families and educational partners play a vital role in a child's education as well as Lii Vyeu, the old people, knowledge keepers and community. Positive relationships and cultural experiences are at the core of learning."
The learning and cultural opportunities for students are continued by Westmount's Métis Cultural Program. The program supports all students from prekindergarten to Grade 8 by ensuring a Métis/Michif perspective is part of curricular outcomes in all subject areas.