The first cohort of students from the Build from Within – Ozhitoon Onji Peenjiiee teacher development program visited their future school, The University of Winnipeg, earlier this week.
This unique program, which features a three-way partnership including UWinnipeg, Indspire, and the Winnipeg School Division, launched in February with a total of 27 students from six different schools in Winnipeg’s north end participating.
Called the “first ever initiative of this type in the country” by Indspire President and CEO, Roberta Jamieson, the program provides Indigenous high school students with college-level courses to become certified as educational assistants with eventual access to the Faculty of Education at UWinnipeg.
“You’re in the right place — you belong here,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, UWinnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor. “You’re going to make UWinnipeg a better place.”
By the time these students are finished Grade 12, they will be graduating with both a high school diploma and an educational assistant diploma.
“We acknowledge the central role of education. Education nurtures our spirit, values, and culture,” Jamieson said. “I’m pleased UWinnipeg has been such a leader in this regard.”
Following high school, students are assigned to a school in the Winnipeg School Division to work part-time as an educational assistant while completing their Integrated Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees at UWinnipeg.
During their post-secondary years in the program, they’re provided with tuition to UWinnipeg, a monthly bus pass, access to cultural activities and mentors, and summer job opportunities.
“We want you, as students in the Winnipeg School Division, to choose teaching as a career, and come back and work with us as educational assistants and then come back as teachers,” said Pauline Clarke, Chief Superintendent and CEO, Winnipeg School Division. “This is a long-term plan that will strengthen the work we do in the division.”