Students in communities across Northern Alberta will benefit from a program being offered in partnership with the University of Alberta (U of A) in the fall of 2018.
The Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) benefits college students ready to complete their third and fourth year of studies toward their Bachelor of Education Degree. The ATEP curriculum has a strong focus on aboriginal culture and perspectives to give teachers a better understanding of the unique history and backgrounds of young aboriginal learners.
The University of Alberta programming being offered at Portage College is intended for aboriginal students, but all students can apply for the final two years of the degree as long as they have at least 60 credits towards their Education Degree.
The Fall 2018 intake will be the third time the program has been offered at Portage College, with the most recent graduates receiving their U of A degree in 2016.
Maggie Buffalo, a Samson Cree member who was living in Whitefish Lake, south of Lac La Biche, graduated from the 2012 Portage College offering of the program. The opportunity to learn in an environment closer to her home gave Buffalo the flexibility to take care of her family while attaining a career. She was then able to contribute to her community by educating children in our area.
"At the time I was a single parent with one son so it was really convenient that the program came to Portage College. I didn't have to leave my community to go to Edmonton or leave my son behind," said Buffalo, who worked as a teacher at Whitefish Lake's Pakan School for three years after graduating.
Buffalo is now continuing her education, taking a Master's Program in Educational Policy Studies in the Indigenous People's Education Program.
She says the focus on specific and unique Aboriginal culture in the program was empowering and important.
"The program allowed me to see the significance of incorporating aboriginal culture and values when you're teaching aboriginal children," Buffalo said. "It really changes who you are, you feel so much more positive about yourself and when you start teaching the children their own culture and values, you can see that it's doing the same for them. It's affirming in recognizing who they are and where they came from."
Dr. Evelyn Steinhauer, the Director of the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program at the University of Alberta, says Buffalo's success - and the similar success of other ATEP students - serves as an inspiration to others looking for a meaningful education offered near their home community.
We are so excited to have yet another opportunity to come back to Portage College," said Dr. Steinhauer. "We have had two successful cohorts complete their program here, and these graduates are now teaching and doing wonderful work in your communities. Another ATEP offering at Portage College equates to more of our own teachers in classrooms."
Guy Gervais, Associate Vice President Academic at Portage College said "This third offering of ATEP with the U of A reinforces the success achieved in the previous collaborations and the trust established between our two institutions."
The next ATEP program starts in Fall 2018 at the Cold Lake Campus.
For students looking to complete their first 60 credits of university course work required for the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program, enrolment is now underway for spring university courses offered at Portage College.