I grew up just down the road from what was at the time Blue Quills Indian Residential School. I now know that this school has an interesting history. While it was scheduled to close in the 1970s, the First Nations community wanted it to remain. They were successful in obtaining control of the school and, today, Blue Quills has a new name and a new mandate. It is a First Nations university with a wide range of programs designed, instructed and administered by First Nation people. Blue Quills serves as a great example of the success that comes from community involvement in education and from respectful relationships between Aboriginal institutions and Western institutions, in this case the University of Alberta.
I have not lived in the area for some years, but it strikes me that I knew very little of the history of Blue Quills until I moved away. It was only when I returned to post-secondary as a mature student that I began to explore the history of my first home more. That is when I discovered that my home town was actually first St. Paul-des-Cris and then St. Paul-des-Metis before it became what it is today - St. Paul.
As I now focus on learning more about Aboriginal education and the question of self-government and control of education, I wanted to know more about Blue Quills. The community of stakeholders that made the transition of Blue Quills a possibility is to be commended for recognizing that education with an Aboriginal culture and worldview in mind is one of the keys to reconciliation and moving forward as one Canada.
In terms of what kind of policies would be necessary in order for post-secondary institutions to engage in the success of Aboriginal students, I thought that a partnership with a First Nations institution such as that which exists for Blue Quills served as an excellent example. I wonder about the possibility of providing opportunities for students in Western institutions to obtain some of their credits at a First Nation institution, through initiatives such as study tours. I also wondered about instructor exchange, in which instructors from a Western institution would teach one semester at a host First Nation institution. All kinds of interesting and exciting opportunities for educators everywhere based on the success of Blue Quills!
Nistameyimakanak Blue Quills - check it out!