To succeed in any culture, the Cree youth of Maskwacis need a complete high school experience—one that teaches not only Alberta university-track courses, but also one that allows them to consider new options and outcomes, to choose rather than react, and to handle responsibility. They need to develop tools in a safe, caring, and respectful environment that encourages them to understand and value their culture.
They need a bridge—a unique private high school and higher education success package—that significanly increases their likelihood of moving through tumultuous adolescence in junior high to solid ground. We want them to graduate from high school with direction, equipped to enter university and become leaders.
For a decade at Mamawi Atosketan Native School (MANS), I watched students leave us after junior high, ready—even eager—to earn a high school diploma. Too many fell into the educational abyss when they left our unique environment, becoming part of a national tragedy: Only 39% of First Nations who register for high school finish. Without a high school diploma, their options are often severely limited. Their potential to choose futures and effect positive change in their communities and elsewhere is stunted.
That's why Mamawi Atosketan Native School is extending its unique and successful elementary and junior high through to high school—to help promising students stay on track through the years when Maskwacis youth are most likely to drop out.
Since we have opened our doors, we've built relationships and character. Recently, we've added limited high school classes in cramped quarters to carry our existing students through Grade 12. Now it's time to complete the bridge—the high school that will change the futures of more hand-picked Reserve teens, allowing them to become effective leaders and participants in traditional, professional, and world communities.
Take a look at us and our students. We can already see positive change as The Bridge takes shape. We invite you to be part of it.