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Indigenous Education Services

​ Above: An Indigenous Liaison meets with a student at Clairmont Community School. 


PWPSD Indigenous Education Services functions to support the positive experiences and success of Indigenous students. 


1. Supporting the holistic well-being and academic success of all Indigenous students, resulting in increased retention and graduation rates across the district. 
2. Ensuring that schools are equipped to create learning environments that allow for increased understanding of and respect for Indigenous peoples. 

3. Fostering opportunities for truth and reconciliation through building and strengthening community relationships. 

How Indigenous Education Services works

In agreement with Alberta Education, each Indigenous student and their parent(s) or guardian(s) will be asked to sign a declaration of Indigenous status so that Alberta Education may monitor the number of Indigenous students throughout PWPSD and the province of Alberta. When a student self-identifies as Indigenous and returns the signed declaration to the school, he or she is connected with an Indigenous Liaison.

Read the Indigenous Education brochure online:

Indigenous Liaisons

  • Meet with students on a regular basis during school hours to support their social and academic needs.
  • Seek to establish and maintain a trust relationship with Indigenous students and their families to assist with school-related issues.
  • Improve communication and increase interaction between students, parents, communities and schools.
  • Increase the knowledge and understanding of Indigenous history, Treaty and Aboriginal rights, lands, cultures and languages; and to provide referral services for Indigenous students and families to appropriate agencies. 

Aboriginal Summer Job Shadowing Program

Indigenous students may apply for a week of classroom training at Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) followed by six weeks of job shadowing. Students are housed at GPRC’s residence facilities and receive a training allowance of $400 per week. Thanks to partnerships between PWPSD, GPRC and local businesses, this program is eligible for high school credit. Indigenous students will be exposed to possible career prospects and receive insights into the path required to achieve future goals.

New Indigenous-focused initiatives at PWPSD

  • Cree Language and Aboriginal Studies courses are offered at Hythe Regional School.
  • Additional support for specialized classes or projects focusing on Indigenous student success.
  • Annual $1,000 Indigenous post-secondary scholarship.
  • ‘Circle of Courage’ positive behaviour modelling.
  • Increased Indigenous content in classrooms and libraries.

PWPSD Virtual Round Dance 2020


Indigenous Guest Speaker Series

Guests share their success stories during PWPSD’s annual school tour. Past Indigenous guest speakers include:
  • Sherryl Sewepagaham, music educator, award-winning musician, and co-founding member of Asani.
  • Lorne Cardinal, actor from CTV’s Corner Gas.
  • Monique Hurteau, producer, writer and comedian who appears on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) as a fitness expert.
  • Cree musicians Jason Chamakese and Robert Gladue.
  • Linsay Willier, Canada’s Next Top Model finalist.
  • J.R. LaRose, a free safety with the BC Lions, and Jed Roberts, former Edmonton Eskimos linebacker and defensive end.
  • Ashley Callingbull, Miss Canada International 2010, Mrs. Universe 2015.
  • Reggie and Jamie Leach, the only Aboriginal father and son to be listed on the Stanley Cup.


Policy Statement on Native Education

Introduced by Alberta’s Minister of Education to the Alberta Legislative Assembly in 1987, the Policy Statement on Native Education in Alberta was significant because it was issued by the Government of Alberta. The policy stated that “Alberta Education would support the development and delivery of programs and services that would:

  • provide enhanced and equal opportunities for Native students to acquire the quality of education traditional in Alberta;
  • challenge Native students to learn and perform to the best of their ability;
  • provide opportunities for Native students to study and experience their own and other Native cultures and lifestyles;
  • provide opportunities for all students, Native and non-Native, in Alberta’s schools to recognize and appreciate the various Native cultures and their many contributions to the province and society.”

Special Events

Jun. 21, 2019  National Indigenous Peoples Day at Harry Balfour School
Jun. 18, 2019  PWPSD schools celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day
Sept. 29, 2016  Orange Shirt Day event at Hythe Regional School
June 04, 2015  Blue Bird Dance Troupe celebrates National Aboriginal Day with Harry Balfour School
Apr. 20, 2015   Beaverlodge, Hythe Schools host second Kelly Lake meet and greet
Apr. 15, 2015   Beaverlodge, Hythe Schools host second Horse Lake meet and greet 
Oct. 15, 2014   Beaverlodge Regional High School hosts Horse Lake meet and greet

Media Releases

Nov. 16, 2020  PWPSD schools focus on three important events this week
Sept. 24, 2019  Orange Shirt Day at PWPSD schools – Every Child Matters
Jun. 18, 2019  PWPSD schools celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day
Apr. 26, 2019  PWPSD Indigenous Speakers Series welcomes “Métis Bev” 
Apr. 03, 2019  Post-secondary education focus of upcoming PWPSD Indigenous Speakers Series
Mar. 11, 2019  PWPSD schools welcome basketball star Michael Linklater
Sep. 24, 2018  Orange Shirt Day at PWPSD schools – Every Child Matters
Jun. 18, 2018  PWSD schools celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day
May. 18, 2018  PWSD schools welcome Grey Cup champion JR LaRose during FNMI school tour
Sept. 25, 2017 Orange Shirt Day at PWPSD schools
Jun. 19, 2017  PWSD schools celebrate National Aboriginal Day
Mar. 08, 2017  Duane Howard of The Revenant set to star in upcoming FNMI school tour 
Mar. 01, 2017  PWPSD’s annual FNMI Scholarship awarded to Spirit River Regional Academy graduate
Sept. 09, 2016  Back-to-back FNMI hockey-themed tours planned for September
June 20, 2016  PWPSD schools celebrate National Aboriginal Day
May 25, 2016  Aboriginal musician Sherryl Sewepagaham to tour PWPSD schools 
Mar. 02, 2016  PWPSD students to be recognized with Aboriginal Youth Role Model Awards
Sept. 17, 2015  Lorne Cardinal, Monique Hurteau to tour PWPSD schools
June 26, 2015  Beaverlodge graduate receives PWPSD's FNMI Scholarship
June 04, 2015  Blue Bird Dance Troupe celebrates National Aboriginal Day with Harry Balfour School
June 04, 2015  PWPSD schools celebrate National Aboriginal Day
Apr. 29, 2015  CFL duo return for second leg of FNMI school tour 
Mar. 30, 2015  Hythe Healthy Initiatives Program receives $6,000 boost
Mar. 04, 2015  PWPSD students to be recognized with Aboriginal Youth Role Model Awards
Oct. 16, 2014   FNMI school tour featuring Cree musicians underway at PWPSD schools

In the News

Sept. 25, 2019  Local schools to celebrate Orange Shirt Day because "Every Child Matters", Reach FM
Sept. 20, 2019  Juno nominee to perform at GPRC during welcome event, 2day FM
Sept. 20, 2019  Indigenous artist Kelly Fraser entertaining students, Daily Herald Tribune
June 28, 2019  Rural high school students try on design thinking, problem-solving and collaboration at Indigenous Youth Forum, University of Calgary
May 06, 2019  Next installment of Indigenous speakers series combines history with messages of pride, 2day FM
May 01, 2019  'Metis Bev' presenting at Peace Wapiti schools, Daily Herald Tribune
Apr. 26, 2019  PWPSD Indigenous Speakers Series welcomes "Metis Bev", Reach FM
Apr. 07, 2019  Indigenous Speakers Series turns attention to post-secondary transition, Everything GP
Apr. 05, 2019  Indigenous speakers hope to encourage students' post-secondary dreams, 2day FM
Mar. 13, 2019  Indigenous basketball start touring PWPSD, Everything GP
Mar. 11, 2019  PWPSD schools welcome Michael Linklater, Reach FM
Mar. 11, 2019  Indigenous hoops start hopes to leave lasting impact on students, 2day FM
Sept. 26, 2017  Cree musician returning for FNMI school tour, Central Peace Signal
Mar. 20, 2017  Star of 'The Revenant' inspires local students, 2day FM
Mar. 09, 2017  Revenant actor starts in FNMI tour, Daily Herald Tribune
Mar. 07, 2017  "The Revenant" start to tour Peace Country Schools, 2day FM
Mar. 05, 2017  Aboriginal Youth awards presented, Daily Herald Tribune
Sept. 13, 2016  FNMI Tour with Stanley Cup winners continues, Big Country 93.1 FM
Sept. 13, 2016  Stanley Cup winners touring Peace Country schools this week, Q99 FM
Sept. 12, 2016  Stanley Cup winners back for second tour of Peace Region schools, 2day FM
Sept. 11, 2016  FNMI hockey-themed school tours returning to PWPSD, Daily Herald Tribune
June 27, 2016  Horse Lake First Nation honours student achievements, Daily Herald Tribune
June 21, 2016  Peace Region celebrating 20th National Aboriginal Day, 2day FM
June 21, 2016  Tuesday is National Aboriginal Day, Big Country 93.1 FM
June 21, 2016  Local events coming up for National Aboriginal Day, Q99 FM
Mar. 08, 2016  Aboriginal youth honoured at Spirit Seekers Youth Conference, 2day FM
Mar. 02, 2016  Spirit Seekers Youth Conference this weekend in GPRC, Q99 FM
Mar. 02, 2016  Spirit Seekers Youth Conference this weekend in GPRC, Big Country 93.1 FM
Sept. 25, 2015  FNMI TV figures offer advice to students, 2day FM
Sept. 23, 2015  Hurteau, Cardinal meeting with Peace Country kids, Big Country 93.1 FM
Sept. 18, 2015  More FNMI role models visiting Peace region schools, 2day FM
Sept. 18, 2015  Lorne Cardinal, Monique Hurteau to tour PWPSD schools, Q99 Live
Sept. 17, 2015  Cardinal, Hurteau to visit PWPSD schools next week, Big Country 93.1 FM
Apr. 06, 2015  Hythe snack program gets funding boost, Daily Herald Tribune
Mar. 09, 2015  Aboriginal youth role models recognized, Daily Herald Tribune
Oct. 30, 2014  Duo shares culture with students, Daily Herald Tribune

Contact us

Indigenous Education Coordinator

Brigitte Benning
Central Office:
(780) 532-8133 

Indigenous Liaisons:

Krista Lucas
Indigenous Liaison
Beaverlodge Elementary School
(780) 354-2446

Miranda Belcourt
Indigenous Liaison
Beaverlodge Regional High School
(780) 354-2189

Sheila Payeur
Indigenous Liaison & Educator
Clairmont Community School
(780) 567-4698

Melissa Hanna
Indigenous Liaison & Educational Assistant
Harry Balfour School
(780) 532-9276

Anna Underwood
Indigenous Liaison & Librarian
Helen E. Taylor School
(780) 766-9103

Barb Belcourt
Cree Instructor & Indigenous Liaison
Hythe Regional School
(780) 356-3934

Shirley St. Cyr
Indigenous Liaison
Hythe Regional School
(780) 356-3934

Marlene Letendre
Indigenous Liaison & Support Worker
Hythe Regional School
(780) 356-3934

Dennis Shinksi
Youth Advocate
Peace Wapiti Academy
(780) 513-9504

JoAnne Bernier
Indigenous Liaison & Educational Assistant
Penson School
(780) 532-6390

Lisa Wiseman
Indigenous Liaison & School Community Wellness
Ridgevalley School
(780) 957-3995

Cindy Wunsch
Indigenous Liaison
Sexsmith Secondary School
(780) 568-3642
Robert W. Zahara Public School
(780) 568-3823

Corinne Dennis
Indigenous Liaison & Educational Assistant
Spirit River Regional Academy
(780) 864-3696

Maryanne Buck
Indigenous Liaison & Educator
Whispering Ridge Community School
(587) 771-2180



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Western Cree Tribal Council
Spirit Seekers Youth Conference