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Yk1 considers expanding aboriginal language programs
Intensive French program may be model

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, September 3, 2011

With a new school year starting, Yellowknife Education District No. 1 is considering ways to expand aboriginal programming for Dene students.

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Yk1 superintendent Metro Haculak says the board is considering using the model of Intensive French for aboriginal programs. - Kevin Allerston/NNSL photo

"We've talked about a program similar to Intensive French that possibly the department would look at. Intensive French has worked worked well for us," said district superintendent Metro Huculak.

The French intensive language program has Grade 6 students study in French 70 per cent of the time for half the school year (except for math), with the second half of the year having "enhanced French" for 20 per cent of the curriculum, except for math.

The idea, brought up during an interview with district staff last Wednesday, is part of a larger aboriginal education strategy.

"What we're trying to work on is closing the gap between our aboriginal students and other students. In Grade 3 our aboriginal students do very well, but we do have a problem with attendance in some areas, so we're working on that and we're really trying to get our aboriginal students to achieve as much as our other students," he said.

In 2009, Raymond Yakeleya raised concerns after his nephew Kyle Yakeleya was refused entry into a college program after receiving his diploma through Yellowknife Education District No. 1.

"What's a kid supposed to do with a piece of paper that ain't worth nothing? No credible institution will take you on with a Northwest Territories Grade 12," said Raymond Yakeleya at the time.

One of the concerns he raised was the amount of time spent out of the classroom with students taking part in traditional activities.

Jean-Mari Mariez, the supervisor of instruction for French programs, said he sees a real difference in the students after they go through intensive French, and hopes it will work for aboriginal students, too.

"For a lot of students who struggle with literacy, they say that it is like having a second chance at language," said Mariez. "It helps them with all literacy and we've noticed that they become some of our best students."

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