In May 2016, Cape Breton University saw the first ever graduating cohort of the Bachelor of Education (BEd) In-Community program, based out of Indian Brook, Nova Scotia. The graduating class included 11 students from First Nation communities across Nova Scotia.
CBU’s In-Community programs allow First Nation students to complete their studies in, or very close to, their home communities. The course uses blended learning, with creative face-to-face models supported by online learning, and has an Aboriginal Education focus. Danielle Gloade, one of the 11 graduates, describes the In-Community program as, “an experience that fostered a strong Aboriginal approach while making connections between our culture and the Nova Scotia Curriculum.” She also says, “It demonstrated the importance of bringing our culture into the classroom.”
Dr. Patrick Howard, an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, says the In-Community program is important as it allows First Nation students to receive quality, professional teacher-training without cutting the ties of their local connections and resources. “The program allows students to fulfill a lifelong dream in many cases of becoming a teacher and do so in their communities with the supports they require,” says Patrick. “These new teachers are committed and deeply rooted to their communities and they are dedicated to strengthening the language, cultural and educational opportunities.”
The inaugural In-Community program has proven to be successful, and Danielle says she has already secured a full-time position with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board. Danielle, who studied and graduated alongside her mother, says, “This program has changed all of our lives. It has given us the tools, educational knowledge and practicum that has made us strong Aboriginal teachers. I am certain that this journey will cause a positive ripple effect, impacting the lives of children, youth and our communities for years to come.”
The Department of Education is currently working with the Unama’ki College on a bridging initiative to ensure First Nations students have the required courses to enter the BEd program, and are looking to offer additional In-Community programs in the future.