Indigenous education symposium seeks to build foundation for ‘good life’

School leaders are gathering in Winnipeg this week to share their Indigenous education initiatives and network with knowledge keepers at Manitoba’s inaugural Mamàhtawisiwin Symposium.

The education department has invited 800 individuals to participate in a two-day event centred around its policy framework — “Mamàhtawisiwin: the Wonder We Are Born With” — on supporting students who are First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

In a news release, Education Minister Nello Altomare said the event is bringing together teachers to “learn from each other, with the goal of supporting Indigenous learners and building respectful and inclusive learning communities.”

The first-of-its-kind conference in Manitoba is scheduled for Nov. 14-15. Elders, school support workers, superintendents, principals and trustees are among the invitees.

Indigenous worldviews, traditions and contemporary lifestyles are on the agenda.

A Cree term, mamàhtawisiwin describes the altruistic and spiritual nature of humans born into the world with a gift to help others live “a good life” (mino-pimatisiwin).

The province released a 73-page document named after it in 2022. The resource provides guidance on incorporating Indigenous pedagogy, languages and culture into classrooms across the province.

“An equitable, inclusive, and diverse education system fosters a sense of belonging in all learners so that they feel they can succeed, take responsibility, find their purpose in life and achieve the good life/mino-pimatisiwin,” states an excerpt from the document.

Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press