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CSB’s Adult Learner Day celebrates the power of lifelong learning

Adult education students have a strong impact on the future of the Cree Nation. To celebrate lifelong learning and recognize student success in adult education, the Cree School Board declared a special Adult Learner Day on November 7. Each community hosted events on or near this date to recognize the commitment and journey of students.

To mark this occasion, recent welding graduate Gary Gull crafted ‘Sabtuan Adult Learner Achievement Awards’ to recognize former adult education students who exemplify lifelong learning and CSB values. One recipient was selected from each community, with Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre (SRVTC) naming four winners from its many graduates.

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Gary Gull (centre) standing with ‘Sabtuan Adult Learner Achievement Award’ winners at SRVTC. Gull crafted the custom awards. From left to right: Patricia Trapper, Sarah Blacksmith, Gary Gull, Manoel Dixon, and Jamie Nayassit.

SRVTC presented the awards at a special ceremony with music, food, and speeches. Recipient Sarah Blacksmith shared her story of completing adult education while raising four children. She shared how her mother’s support, in-community opportunities, and goal setting helped her to successfully complete her program. Jamie Nayassit, another recipient, shared his future ambitions and his hopes to give back to the community.

“My plan for the future is to study engineering in college,” Nayassit said. “Once I finish college, I plan to start a business in my community, thus creating jobs for our youth and families.”

Along with the ceremony held at the regional training centre, each community organized celebrations where students could enjoy feasts, workshops, and guest speakers. In Eastmain, students created videos about adult learning and are continuing to edit them as part of their classwork. Oujé-Bougoumou, Whapmagoostui, and Wemindji invited community members to Open Houses as part of their celebrations.

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Local Education Consultant Rene Blackned presents Brigitte Asquabaneskum with a ‘Sabtuan Adult Learner Achievement Award’ in Wemindji.

In each community, ‘Sabtuan Adult Learner Achievement Awards’ were handed out to individuals with inspiring stories, knowledge, and skills.

In Wemindji, we recognized Carpentry graduate and Building Inspector Brigitte Asquabaneskum, a mother who continues to embrace training opportunities and thrive in her field.

Students in Waskaganish had the privilege of hearing a speech from award winner Ethel Katapatuk-Taylor, who graduated from adult education in 2001. Nearly two decades after completing her program, Katapatuk-Taylor could share the long-term impact of finishing school and motivate students with her experiences.

Annie Mark received the award in Mistissini after sharing the skills she learned at SRVTC’s Professional Cooking program. For Adult Learner Day, Mark joined a local nutritionist in leading Mistissini students through preparing the feast for the occasion.

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Annie Mark leads Adult Education students in preparing a healthy meal for Adult Learner Day.

For Adult Education Director Nian Matoush, Adult Learner Day was a way to recognize the role of adult education in building a strong Cree Nation.

“In Cree culture, we grow up understanding the unending cycle of learning and teaching. You learn something new, you practice that skill or understanding, then you can pass that knowledge on."

“When our former students come back and share their wisdom, knowledge, and skills with current students, they are truly the best examples of lifelong learning in action.”

Matoush hopes the motivation, knowledge sharing, and recognition of students from Adult Learner Day will inspire students through the school year and beyond.

“It is not always easy to go back to school, but I want students to know that by pursuing adult education, they are helping build a Nation. Adult Learner Day was one way of showing students and graduates how much we value and admire their pursuit of education.”

Cree School Board

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