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Conference inspires local Indigenous youth to become future leaders

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More than one hundred Indigenous youth from Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools took part in a conference that allowed them to learn, connect, and be inspired by Indigenous leaders in their community.

The Inspiring Success Youth Conference, sponsored by We Matters, took place on May 10 at Red Deer Polytechnic.

Grade 8 students from across both school divisions had the opportunity to meet new friends who they will attend high school with, reconnect with peers in their current school, and build a deeper sense of strength, belonging, identity, and pride in their Indigenous heritage.

“We were very excited to bring this opportunity to Indigenous youth in Grade 8,” said Hayley Christen, Learning Services Coordinator with Red Deer Public Schools. “It was an excellent opportunity for them to meet new friends and connect with other Indigenous youth in Central Alberta. We wanted the young people to know they are not alone and we also hope the connections they make today will carry forward when they go on to high school. This was a fun, engaging, and meaningful day for all the youth involved!”

Throughout the day, youth were able to participate in 10 different sessions that included topics on goal setting, student success, resilience, Reconciliation, and Indigenous games, along with the opportunity to hear the personal journeys of several Indigenous mentors and leaders.

“This conference has been a beautiful event for the students to witness firsthand the success of other Indigenous people in the local community and come together to connect with Indigenous Grade 8 students,” said Selena Frizzley, Coordinator of Indigenous Education Services with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools. “We had students attend from Rocky Mountain House, Olds, Innisfail and Red Deer. Students left feeling empowered and hopeful after gaining traditional teachings from Elders and Knowledge Keepers.”

“We were thrilled to collaborate with Red Deer Public and Catholic School Divisions, in conjunction with several community groups, to host central Alberta Indigenous youth for Inspiring Success Youth Conference at Red Deer Polytechnic,” said Kylie Thomas, Red Deer Polytechnic Vice President, Academic and Provost. “We are extremely proud of the leadership roles that RDP Indigenous learners, including keynote speaker Logan Beauchamp, and Polytechnic staff assumed throughout the planning and delivery of this impactful conference. The collective efforts from all partners has helped to inspire Indigenous youth both in and out of the classroom.”

“This conference was a way to introduce Indigenous youth to positive role models from their own community. It was also a great way to introduce these youth to more aspects of our cultures, something that a lot of Indigenous youth feel disconnected from,” said Logan Beauchamp, Ambassador of Hope with We Matters. “As well, we were able to highlight some resources and organizations that are doing great things in our community that these youth can access. Most importantly, this conference was hopefully able to help these youth create their own definition of success and help them envision and plan how they can get there”

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Red Deer Polytechnic Means More for Students, Industry and Communities across Alberta

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Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) is highlighting its unique programs, hands-on training and applied research through a new “Polytechnic Means More” campaign. With more ways to learn and more industry connections, Red Deer Polytechnic provides its students with more opportunities to attain rewarding careers.

“Within a polytechnic model, our students receive outstanding learning experiences, focused on where industry is going, and the innovations required to get there. Through this campaign, our learners share their experiences about Red Deer Polytechnic’s impact,” says Stuart Cullum, President of Red Deer Polytechnic.

Brett Lower, a current Bachelor of Science Nursing student and member of the Kings Volleyball team, is one of the students profiled in the campaign. When he was considering post-secondary education after graduating from Lindsay Thurber High School in Red Deer, he wanted to attend an innovative institution that offered program excellence, technology integration, experiential learning opportunities, positive connections, and a strong athletics program. That led him to Red Deer Polytechnic.

The “Polytechnic Means More” campaign also highlights how applied research benefits students. By collaborating to solve complex social, technical and business challenges with industry, community partners, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders, RDP students are gaining the skills and competencies needed for their success in work and life.

“The ‘Polytechnic Means More’ campaign will be shared in a variety of ways across Alberta during the next six months. We’re excited for this opportunity to engage with people across the province as we share more about our institution’s impact,” says Richard Longtin, Vice President, External Relations.

Red Deer Polytechnic is proudly rooted in central Alberta, while making an impact across the province and around the world.

“As a polytechnic institution, we will continue to leverage our regional strengths to create a bigger and broader impact across the province, nationally and around the world. We are strongly positioned to respond to the needs of learners, industry and communities to align with the economic and social priorities of Alberta,” says Cullum.

Additional information about the “Polytechnic Means More” campaign is available online.

About Red Deer Polytechnic: This post-secondary institution’s story began in 1964, as Red Deer College. Focused on the economic and social interests of Alberta, Red Deer Polytechnic proudly serves a community of learners through a diverse and growing number of industry relevant programs across a breadth of credentials.

These credentials include degrees, diplomas, certificates, apprenticeship training, micro-credentials, camps and workshops, and more, to thousands of youth and adult learners across our region. With modern teaching and learning spaces, and state-of-the-art research and innovation centres in advanced manufacturing and energy innovation, the Polytechnic provides applied research opportunities, leadership in the social, economic and cultural development of Alberta, and myriad lifelong learning opportunities.

Red Deer Polytechnic estimates that about 6,300 full-and part-time credit, collaborative and apprenticeships students will enroll for the 2022/2023 academic year, in addition to more than 3,000 learners within Extended Education programming. Red Deer Polytechnic’s main campus is located on Treaty 7, Treaty 6 and Métis ancestral lands. This is where we will strive to honour and transform our relationships with one another.

For more information, please visit: rdpolytech.ca | twitter | facebook | instagram

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Alberta

Alberta premier defends new rules on in-person learning, no mask mandates in schools

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By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is defending new rules ordering schools to provide in-person learning during the current wave of viral illnesses, saying a clear, measured response is crucial for students and parents.

“We need a normal school environment for our children, and we need to make sure that the classrooms stay open to be able to support our parents,” Smith said at a news conference in Medicine Hat on Friday.

“That’s why we made the decision that we did — to give that clear direction.”

Her comments came a day after she announced regulatory changes saying school boards must provide in-person learning. Schools also can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

The changes take effect immediately.

“Anyone is welcome to wear a mask if they feel that that is the right choice for them, but we should not be forcing parents to mask their kids, and we shouldn’t be denying education to kids who turn up without a mask,” Smith said.

She has said mask rules and toggling from online to in-person learning adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and strained parents scrambling to make child-care arrangements when schools shut down.

That’s over, Smith said.

“We’re just not going to normalize these kind of extreme measures every single respiratory virus season,” she said.

School boards have been asking for more direction as a slew of seasonal respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, along with some COVID-19 cases, have led to high classroom absentee rates and have jammed children’s hospitals.

In Edmonton, Trisha Estabrooks, board chair for Edmonton Public Schools, said the decision provided the clarity that the board was seeking.

“All Albertans now understand that it’s not within the jurisdiction, and nor should it ever have been within the jurisdiction of individual school boards, to make decisions that belong to health officials,” said Estabrooks.

She said the province has made it clear that any future public health order would supersede the new rules.

The in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

The Opposition NDP criticized the new rules, saying it’s unrealistic to force schools to be all things to all students while also handling a wave of viral illnesses and not providing additional supports to do it.

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the government needs to work with school boards to figure out how to make this work.

“You have schools that are struggling to staff the building, (they) can’t get substitute teachers, teachers are sick, they’re covering each other’s classes, principals are covering the classes,” Schilling said in an interview.

“And then to say if you go online, you are to still offer the same programming in person — we just don’t have the people to do that.”

Wing Li, communications director for public education advocacy organization, Support our Students, said it will be difficult for schools to offer hybrid learning without any additional resources.

“There are no teachers,” Li said in an interview. “Pivoting online was mostly due to staffing shortages, which is worse now three years in.”

Li said online learning is challenging for students but, when temporary and supported, can keep schools and communities safe from spreading illness.

“This is a quite aggressive use of the Education Act to enshrine an ideology,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022

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december, 2022

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