New education partnership secures federal funding for Whitecap students



a group of people sitting at a table: Saskatoon Public Schools' Board Chair Colleen MacPherson and Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear sign an  agreement supporting their ongoing education partnership.


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Saskatoon Public Schools’ Board Chair Colleen MacPherson and Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear sign an agreement supporting their ongoing education partnership.

A new agreement between Whitecap Dakota First Nation, the Saskatoon public school division and the federal government provides federal funding to support Whitecap students.

The tripartite education agreement, signed on Tuesday morning, builds on an existing partnership between the First Nation and the school division that’s been in place since 2014.

The original partnership, extended by another five years in 2019, formalizes decades of collaboration between the division and Whitecap.

The school division operates the pre-Kindergarten to Grade 4 Charles Red Hawk Elementary School, located on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. It’s the first on-reserve school to be part of a Saskatchewan school division.

Once students reach Grade 5, they are transported to Chief Whitecap School in Saskatoon’s Stonebridge neighbourhood, then to a public high school.

The agreement means federal money will provide funding to support that partnership. In doing so, it contributes to work being done to combat disparities in education, Whitecap Chief Darcy Bear said.

That includes ensuring all Whitecap students have access to language and culture programming.

Indigenous Services Canada has provided about $1,500 per student in language and culture resources, but it was only accessible for people on reserve. Under the new partnership, it also reaches Whitecap students learning in Saskatoon.

“This signing today solidifies that … the money for language and culture can now travel with those students,” Bear said.

School board chair Colleen MacPherson said the “standout” partnership is a step toward ensuring all students can reach their fullest potential.

“I know what we’re signing here today will positively impact the future of our students, not only in school, but as they grow into their roles in the community,” MacPherson said.

Bear said supporting Indigenous learners helps connect them with their history while securing their futures.

“We’re seeing the outcomes,” he said. “(They’re) successful, having opportunities, having jobs and providing for their own families, it’s really good to see. That all starts with education.”

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