Linda Parker gave us an overview of Six Nations Polytechnic. Founded in 1993 by order of Band Council, SNP was initially chartered to bring post-secondary education and training to the people of Six Nations of the Grand. These six Iroquois nations, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Tuscarora, and Seneca comprise the largest First Nation community in the country. SNP’s mission now is to provide lifelong learning from youth to seniors with such strands as basic literacy, STEAM, college and university preparation, apprenticeship and skilled trades training, continuing education, and professional development for Ontario certified teachers. In particular, SNP is an institution where First Nation’s culture and language thrive. If thirty or more years ago, language training was exclusively English, it is now required that the SNP students take at least one credit in NSL (Native as First Language).Furthermore, one is now able to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in two First Nation languages, Mohawk and Cayuga. And as many of us know, the ability to reclaim one’s language is an integral step in identity building and healing of colonial trauma.
Having an educational institution dedicated Haudenosaunee values evokes pride in the students. It is a place of comfort and opportunity for all. The student population of SNP is 70% First Nation; the programming is open to everyone.

The STEAM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering,  Arts, and  Math) is a focus programme developed four years ago for students in high school. Unlike traditional Ontario secondary education, STEAM is a 5-6 year programme that integrates high schools credits with post-secondary credits in such areas as software, visual art, construction, robotics, Mohawk and Cayuga. The overarching goals are to develop critical thinkers, to enhance scientific inquiry and to nurture future leaders.
Judy Reuben, the STEAM Director of Programme, shared with us how they adapted to COVID restrictions: quadmesters, small cohorts, in class and virtual learning, a 6 day cycle. These changes have allowed their 148 students to continue learning. The main campus is also open for those who have poor internet access or have I.E.P.’s (individual education plan) which require in person instruction. Attendance is good and credit accumulation continues.

The STEAM Academy, while fairly new, has garnered several significant awards. Their Robotics team won the regional skills competition involving schools from Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and Brantford and took the “Stanley Cup”. The academy’s partnership with I.B.M. and Mohawk College has not only enriched the credit programme but also allowed students to access mentors and role models. D2L, a LMS (Learning Management System) works closely with the academy and has given them a “Brightspace” Award. And a fellow Rotary Club of Oakville has donated to their graduation awards list.

Tom McLeod thanked our speakers and on behalf of our club, presented Linda and Judy a cheque for $6000 from the DVF (Dundas Valley Foundation) earmarked for the purchase of a 3-D printer for the robotics programme. We anticipate hearing more about the success of the students as they deepen their knowledge and skills in engineering and technology. DVSRC is very happy to be able to support First Nation education at the Six Nations of the Grand.