The Manitoba Teachers’ Idea Fund is supporting mental health programming at Ross L. Gray School in Sprague.
A grant of $150,000 is going toward Infusing the 5T’s of Mental Health into the Mamàhtawisiwin Framework. The 5T’s refer to talking, training, teaching, tools, and taking care.
Mamàhtawisiwin: The Wonder We Are Born With—An Indigenous Education Policy Framework is a provincial policy directive and conceptual framework that supports the holistic achievements of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit learners by assisting Manitoba educators in incorporating Indigenous pedagogy, languages, and culture into their teaching and practices.
“We have Treaty One and Treaty Three within our division and we’ve been working really hard at trying to incorporate elders and knowledge keepers within the division and within our schools,” explains Kerri Keffer, one of the team members helping to guide this program at Ross L. Gray. “Because of the contacts we have there, we already started to do somethings with the elders and knowledge keepers in our area. And this just lent itself really well. And having the medicine wheel as a guide, we call it the North Star, it enabled us to fit everything we needed or that we thought our students needed, our kids needed, our staff needed… to be able to fit it into this framework.”
This framework aims to empower Manitoba teachers to understand and meet the needs of Indigenous learners by embedding strategies and practices into their educational settings and classroom routines, so that they reflect Indigenous languages, cultures, and identities.
“Forty-five percent of our student population at Ross L. Gray is recognized as Indigenous and 65 percent of our students are recognized as having social and emotional needs,” says Principal Jared Baines.
He is thankful for this funding and excited to put the money to good use.
“The money is going to be used towards infrastructure within our building that’s going to benefit and impact our students physical, emotional well-being for next year and years to come,” Baines reports.
Guidance Councillor Carly Chubaty says this grant will be used in many different ways to promote mental wellbeing.
“There’s going to be weekly mental health education that’s going to be in the form of morning meetings for our kindergarten to grade 12 students,” Chubaty says. “We’re going to have a wellness area in the library that we’re going to make for our students to access, an outdoor classroom, and there’s going to be teaching for staff and students on the early warning signs for mental health concerns, and be able to provide students with the supports that they need.”
Adriance Culleton with the resource department says they have noticed the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for many people, and resources are limited in rural communities.
She says this grant will allow the school to really focus on some great things for the entire school community.
“We always did a Christmas meal with our school which went over phenomenal, and the kids loved it,” she says. “It was a big meal before they went home at Christmas. We’ve done a couple years of where we did a breakfast in the spring. So, this will build on things that we knew were working, and we’ve done a few family nights before, so trying to include things that we’ve done in the past that work, with a lot of the new things, to try to meet the needs of our students.”
Baines looks forward to seeing how this funding and programming will improve life in school as well as in the community at large.
“What the grant means to us at Ross L. Gray is that it’s going to be building community, it’s going to be building relationships, it definitely encompasses all of our cultures that come to Ross L. Gray,” he says. “We want everyone to feel very important, very valued, and very safe. We’re over the moon with excitement. It’s going to be a lot of work but it’s going to be a team effort and it’s in the best interest of our students.”