TAKING FIRST NATIONS TEENS TO HIGHER EDUCATION
Who we are
Established in 2003 to serve the four bands of the Maskwacis Cree Nation between Wetaskiwin and Ponoka, Alberta, Mamawi Atosketan Native School (MANS) is a successful and privately-funded K-12 school. We're a violence-free learning community that integrates proven practices of physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being into each day in a distinctly Cree environment.
Mamawi Atosketan—which means "Working Together" in Cree—has become a living reality for our school families. Mutual respect, coupled with innovative thinking and an attitude of partnership, has produced a new generation of parents and students engaged in the day-to-day process of education. Parents see the changes in the lives of their children: they see learners who feel safe, who grow in confidence, who are eager to get to school and enthusiastic about what happens there.
The dynamic has changed. The conversations about education are different: graduating from high school and university is no longer an unreachable dream. It’s an attainable goal.
In 2011, based on student and parent requests, we began adding high school classes, one grade at a time. Until then, our students had to leave us for another school at the very moment they are primed for high school success. As a result, too many of our students fell through the cracks and dropped out of their next school—becoming part of Canada's First Nations education tragedy. (see Getting First Nations Kids Through High School: A Challenge that Impacts All Canadians)
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, and to handle responsibility in a supportive environment.
MANS can provide the complete high school experience First Nations youth need. But we're limited by our building's capacity. We serve more than 170 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in a facility designed to house 120 elementary students. We turn away dozens of students each year.
To grow our students all the way to university admission, we must invest $4.9 million in becoming a model of First Nations education in Canada.