In the Fall of 2016, the Indigenous Bachelor of Education Program (IBEP) in the Trent School of Education welcomed its first cohort of students; working towards becoming certified educators in Ontario. A unique concurrent opportunity, the program offers eligible students credit for their past educational and life experiences. For Indigenous students there are many pathways in including entering from high school, transfer agreements with local community colleges or First Nations education institutes, or for current Trent students, the ability to transfer into the program.
A new generation of teachers
In June 2021, graduates and new teachers Holly Redden, Thomas Morningstar, Seanna Dale and Amber Brooks became the first graduates of the IBEP program. Each graduate now finds themselves ready and eager to teach, and for some, back in their home communities.
Prior to entering the Indigenous Bachelor of Education program, Seanna completed the Foundations of Indigenous Learning diploma program through the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies. “There are so many great things I can do with this degree,” said Seanna. “Although it is next to impossible to predict the future, my ultimate goal is to be a grade 2 teacher to provide a safe space for everyone by sharing my indigenous knowledge and learnings.”
As long-time faculty and senior Indigenous advisor in the School of Education, Dr. Nicole Bell understands the power of having Indigenous educators in the classroom. “It is highly empowering for Indigenous children and youth to see themselves in their teachers. Seeing Indigenous teachers in their schools activates their potential as they vision themselves as teachers. This is all-the-more powerful when those Indigenous teachers are from the Indigenous learner's community.”
Coming full circle
The IBEP was a program that had been in development for quite some time, with then dean of Education, Dr. Jacqueline Muldoon, recognizing the importance and need of having Indigenous education and educators in the field.
“I am delighted that the first cohort of Bachelor of Education Indigenous students have graduated this past June and will be going out into the schools to be role models for Indigenous youth. Having Indigenous teachers come through this unique program is a small but important step forward in developing inclusivity in education,” reflects Professor Muldoon.
The program serves as a strong foundation to Indigenous students enrolled in the program, as well as a catalyst for ensuring that the School of Education as a whole, integrates Indigenous ways of learning and knowing, throughout its course content.