Grassy Narrows’ Jackie Swain and Roxanne Loon are enjoying their Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute Native Early Childhood Education placements in Thunder Bay.
“It’s different from our own community — it’s something new and challenging,” said Loon, who is doing her placement along with Swain, her mother, at the Algoma Child Care Centre. “I’m learning new methods how to teach.”
Swain said the placement provides her with “more experience” for her teaching position with toddlers at the Migizi Wazason Child Care Centre in Grassy Narrows.
“It’s been a long time since I was in school,” Swain said. “And I’m older than them (the other students).”
Loon and Swain usually do their placements during the day and attend their Native Early Childhood Education classes at Oshki-Pimache-O-Win during the evening until about 8:30 p.m. They began the Native Early Childhood Education program last fall along with three other
Grassy Narrows students and 12 students from other communities.
“We’re all together,” Loon said about the Grassy Narrows students. “The other workers back home already have their ECEs (Early Childhood Education diplomas). They’re qualified; we’re just getting qualified now.”
Loon finds the Native Early Childhood Education program to be a challenge, but she said Oshki-Pimache-O-Win’s modular format of two two-week on-campus sessions per semester combined with independent distance study in her home community supported by evening tele/videoconferences works for her circumstances back home.
“I have a family at home with three small children,” Loon said. “I like this program because we’re here for two weeks, but we can go home for six weeks. If I went for a two-year program (at a college), I wouldn’t see my family at home.”
Hans Fobister, one of the Grassy Narrows students who has been working at the Migizi Wazason Child Care Centre for more than a year, said the Native Early Childhood Education program has helped him to understand himself better.
“I’m growing in knowledge,” Fobister said. “It’s been an honour and it’s fun interacting with (the other students) and learning their experiences.”
While attending their second two-week on-campus session in late March at Oshki-Pimache-O-Win’s Thunder Bay campus, the Grassy Narrows students celebrated spring along with the other students at Oshki-Pimache-O-Win’s Spring Feast, held March 24.
“We’re honouring the season,” said Lori Parkinson, coordinator of the Native Early Childhood Education program. “Here at Oshki, we’ll have a feast each time the students are on campus.
We always provide potluck settings whenever students are on campus, but now we have made more of a commitment towards honouring the seasons. Last session it was the New Year’s Feast.”
In addition to the Native Early Childhood Education students, who are studying through a Cambrian College diploma program, Oshki-Pimache-O-Win also has two other groups of students on campus: Business Fundamentals students, who are studying through a Confederation College certificate program, and Social Service Worker Program students, who are studying through a Sault College diploma program.
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