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College of Education program ‘feels like home’ – News

Dwayne T. Drescher “Atjgaliaq” (BEd’16) is a USask graduate and a current student in the MEd program. (Photo: David Stobbe)

Dwayne T. Drescher “Atjgaliaq” (BEd’16) is a USask graduate and a current student in the MEd program. (Photo: David Stobbe)

USask student Dwayne T. Drescher “Atjgaliaq” (BEd’16)—who was born in Fort Smith, N.W.T., and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, NW.T.—credits his Inuit Elders with instilling in him the values of respectful leadership. After completing his Bachelor of Education degree in 2016 through ITEP at USask, Drescher wanted to continue to pursue his goals of language revitalization and leading his people. With the support of his wife, Drescher enrolled in the MEd cohort program in January 2023.

“I knew my goal was to learn—so the content was, and is, still very important to me—but what I have found so far in this program is that I have learned just as much knowledge from my classmates’ perspectives as I have the content from the classes,” he said. “Creating these relationships with my cohort has truly been amazing, and I am humbled and honoured to be able to call them my classmates and friends.”

After Drescher completes the program, he would like to return to his home community to serve as a leader, either as an Indigenous superintendent or as a CEO. He describes the MEd program as “top-notch” and recommends it to others.

“My first year as a professional educator, my superintendent was Indigenous, and I knew of her. She blazed the trail for me. That showed me that us Indigenous people can lead in any sector, field, and workplace out there,” said Drescher. “Simply put, there are not enough Indigenous leaders out there, and we need more. So, if you have the experience and/or the credentials, then get on a computer and apply for this program.”

Martell said the graduates of the MEd cohort program have gone on to occupy many educational leadership positions, including as directors in school systems, and they “are adding great value” to schools and communities. Martell wants to build confidence among the cohort members, and to show them that their knowledges and experiences as Indigenous teachers and leaders are valuable and can strengthen the learning experiences of others.

“As a Treaty First Nations person, I would say this is nation building. This is how it gets done,” he said. “Every student that acquires that parchment, that graduate degree—they’re on to a different trajectory of participation and influence in the provincial educational system, in First Nations education, and in fulfilling the promise of Indigenous control of Indigenous education.

“In a lot of ways, to me, the real reward and gratification of working with these students is removing barriers. To create that equitable context that allows Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing to flourish in publicly funded and band-controlled education in the country, we need to have Indigenous leaders at all levels—at policy tables, at governance tables, at decision-making tables, writing the curricula, and reforming the system so that it serves all well.”

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