By Maggie Macintosh , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

More than 30 schools across Manitoba will soon welcome elders and knowledge keepers to provide cultural teachings to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students as part of a new provincial pilot.

Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced Tuesday the province has earmarked $275,000 for a project that aims to support the involvement of elders in K-12 buildings. Mentorship programs, lessons on culture, language and traditional knowledge, and consultation will all be part of the new initiative.

“The voices of elders and knowledge keepers are critical toward successful impacts for teachers, students and families through respectful relationships and approaches,” Cullen said in a provincial news release.

The experts’ work will promote the inclusion of First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories, culture, traditional values, contemporary lifestyles and traditional knowledge in curricula, according to the release.

The pilot is slated to roll out across 33 schools in Flin Flon, Fort La Bosse, Frontier, Hanover, Lord Selkirk, Mountain View, Pembina Trails, Portage la Prairie, Prairie Rose, Mystery Lake, and St. James-Assiniboia school districts.

Schools were selected based on factors including socio-economic index, geography — given the province wanted to target urban, northern and rural sites — and location in a division with a continuum of elder and knowledge keeper involvement and engagement.

Some divisions in Manitoba, including the largest of its kind in Winnipeg, currently employ elders-in-residence who already support Indigenous education initiatives and consult on education-related matters.

The latest provincial program was developed with input from Manitoba’s elders and knowledge keepers in schools advisory council, community consultations, and conversations with division leaders.

This item is reprinted with permission from Winnipeg Free Press, Manitoba. See article HERE.

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