As we move through this Advent season toward Christmas, we recognize that the pandemic still has an effect on our traditional seasonal activities. We know and appreciate all the wonderful and creative ways you continue to share the Christmas message with students and families. And after a year’s absence due to the pandemic, we are thrilled to announce that the annual Knights of Columbus Carol Festival has returned in a new and exciting format.
This year, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ, we are able to share the Good News with our families, friends, and community with this professionally-produced video recording of our schools’ performances.
The video is available also available for you to enjoy on YouTube, on participating school websites, and it will also be broadcast on Shaw Cable throughout the holiday season.
Shaw Cable broadcast schedule:
Shaw Cable ch. 10 or BlueCurve TV ch. 105
- December 20, 21, 22, 23: 9 am
- December 19, 21, 22, 23: 3 pm
- December 22: 7 pm
- December 24: 7 am
We once again offer our gratitude to our sponsors, the Saskatoon Chapter of the Knights of Columbus, for their dedicated support of the festival. For over 60 years, their patronage has made this beautiful event possible. And we offer our warmest thanks and congratulations to the students and teachers from the 17 schools who performed this year. As we share the Good News of Christ’s birth, their beautiful gifts of music and witness will be a true source of joy and gladness for all who see and hear it.
May you and your families be richly blessed throughout the Christmas season.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Terri Fradette, Superintendent of Learning
Scott Gay, Superintendent of Learning
Darcie Lich, Coordinator, Learning Services
This story was originally published by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and is shared here with permission.
A group of students from Bethlehem Catholic High school in Saskatoon recently designed and sent 51 handmade cards and notes to the health-care workers at Saskatoon City Hospital (SCH).
Each card contained a heartfelt message from the students – from genuine “thank you” notes to longer messages of caring: “I have no idea who will be receiving this, all I’m told is that it’s a health care worker. I know that you work very hard on the job, and that you risk your physical and mental health every day. Thank you, not a shallow thank-you, truly thank you. Many people have lost people because of this, and there has been a lot of pain lately, but you have been saving people; your efforts have been worth it. Thank you.”
“I received a wrapped packaged addressed to health-care workers at Saskatoon City Hospital,” says Rosine Garabedian, Director, Site Lead for SCH. “When I opened the package, I saw these beautiful cards. Then I started reading them and I just couldn’t stop. I read every single one and felt the support flowing through the words. I spoke to the students and their staff leaders recently on the phone and told them the impact their kindness had on me and others who have read and will read their words of gratitude.”
The cards are displayed near the administration area so passers-by can see them and read the notes without having to handle the cards. A large white paper banner was also put up near the registration area of SCH, along with markers, so patients and their support people could write their own notes of thanks. Hand sanitizer and wipes were provided to clean the markers after use.
“Thanks for your hard work,” says one of the notes. “You guys are the best!!!” says another. “I appreciate your hard work,” “Thank you for your caring hands!” “Thank you to our heroes in scrubs!” “May you find new energy reserves!”
To put an educational spin on the old tree-falling-in-the-forest adage: if a kindergarten student doesn’t realize they are learning by playing, are they are actually learning?
If you ask Shelley Smith, kindergarten teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Warman, the answer would be a resounding “Yes!”
Throughout her 21-year teaching career, Shelley has brought hands-on, play-based learning to her early years classrooms. That approach is now being recognized with a Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence Certificate of Achievement—one of only two 2021 Prime Minister’s Awards in Saskatchewan.
When walking into her classroom, you may find Shelley down on her hands and knees working with students at their level—she’s interested in what they’re doing and discovering. “I’ve always wanted to work with young children,” Shelley said. “I find that they’re most excited about learning. Whether you say you’re reading a story or whether you’re going outside, their enthusiasm for learning and their eagerness is endless.”
Shelley explained that play-based learning is based on developmental stages of children. “It becomes more of a reality to them. Paper and pencil are good, but it’s sometimes hard for them to understand that they’re learning because they’re trying so hard to write what they know instead of show what they know. So with hands-on learning, they can show what they’re learning as it’s happening.”
Discovery learning isn’t limited to certain subject areas. Shelley explained that it’s an important part of learning in language arts, math and when learning about our faith. “The faith based (learning) is here every day, not only through prayers but in our actions and our service projects in our schools that we do. That faith comes through whether you’re doing Tipi Teaching or the Seven Sacred teachings intertwined with our Catholic faith. It’s important that children can show their faith in action and not just hear about their faith.”
Quick to share credit for the honour of the award, Shelley stated, “It has been a surprise and delight that people have given me a certificate of achievement for what so many people do daily in our school division. I’m just a reflection of the people I work with and the students and the families that send their children here every day. It’s a co-operative effort, and everybody in the building and in the division works together to support each other.”
While that is true, others are not as apprehensive to credit Shelley for her work. A parent said, “Our child comes home every day telling us how much fun it is to be in Ms. Smith’s classroom. Her play-based learning approach is amazing. She has given them a love of learning. It is fantastic to see them grow into such kind and confident learners.”
Renee Cratty, principal at Holy Trinity, said, “Shelley is an expert teacher who is a dedicated and compassionate professional. She embraces the principles of early childhood education and creates a vibrant environment where learning takes place through inquiry, play and exploration. She creates a faith filled environment where students are taught to know God, to love God, and to serve God. We are blessed to have Shelley as a teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic School.”
When asked about being in Mrs. Smith’s class, Emily, a kindergarten student, said, “She’s the best.” What more of an endorsement does one need?
Shelley’s biography for the award can be found on the Government of Canada’s website.
This story was originally published by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and is posted here with permission.
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
When an E.D. Feehan student spoke to her teachers about the peril facing her brother and his family, they knew they had to do something to help.
A newcomer to Canada, enrolled in the Adult 12 Program at the Saskatoon Catholic high school, the student was terrified and unsure what to do next to try and help her brother, his wife and their two young children, ages 5 and 7, who were on the run, fleeing for their lives to another country after an extremist organization took power in their home country.
The student shared her fears and the family’s desperate plight with her “Feehan family,” who quickly stepped up to help.
After consulting the principal, staff members led by teacher-chaplain Ryan LeBlanc launched an effort to help the family with immediate needs, and to initiate a private sponsorship to bring this imperilled refugee family to Canada.
“We wanted to open this learning experience to students and staff: to show kindness and care and concern for a global situation that had a local relevance, and to show kindness and concern for a student in our school in the way that we would want to show kindness and concern for any student in our school facing extreme difficulty,” says LeBlanc.
To raise the funds needed for the sponsorship (a minimum of $30,500 to ensure support for the family for one year), as well as funds for the family’s immediate emergency needs and eventually for the cost of transportation to Canada, the group is seeking help from the community in the form of monetary donations.
A “Go Fund Me” campaign has been set up and a refugee sponsorship group has been formally established, consisting of a number of E.D. Feehan staff members and the student herself, working through the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon Office of Migration, a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) with the federal government. St. Mary Parish in Saskatoon has also been approached to assist in welcoming the newcomers when they arrive.
More immediately, the E.D. Feehan sponsorship group has already sent vital help to assist the family in finding a safer place to stay and helping them to buy food. But the situation is precarious, with the country they are now in actively working to deport refugees back to their home country.
The father of the family had received verbal threats to his life because he was working honestly for the previous government in power, and the mother of the family was targeted for her work with abused women, explains LeBlanc.
“When we entered the story, they were hiding in a rural region (in an adjoining country), and they didn’t have any money and they didn’t have any food, and it was getting colder, and they really didn’t know what to do – and everywhere they turned to, they were denied, they were told no.”
The E.D. Feehan school community immediately began raising funds through concession and candy sales, as well as the Go Fund Me page, and was able to quickly send funds to help the family move to a safer location in a larger urban centre, says LeBlanc.
It was risky and difficult for them to find accommodation, with hotels warned that they would be fined and shut down if anyone from the family’s home country was found on the premises.
LeBlanc believes that prayer made the difference. “The whole school was praying for this family’s safety. We put up a statue of St. Jude in the chapel. I asked everyone I could, all the prayer warriors I knew, to pray. And I believe prayers reached around the world and our family found friendship.” One person ended up selling his cows to pay for the family’s transport to the city, and a landlord agreed to rent them a private apartment for the time being – although in doing so, he was putting himself at risk.
“Prayers were able to help to strengthen these helpers and these friends to show a bit of kindness where we couldn’t,” says LeBlanc
“They ended up warm, safe, secure, private, and fed… and they have that space to stay for a limited amount of time.”
Even so, the danger continues, with fear of discovery and deportation back to their home country, where they would almost certainly be executed. As well, “being undocumented in any country means you have no recourse to police or health or education,” Le Blanc points out.
The priority now is to get the needed funds in place and get the family to Canada as privately -sponsored refugees.
In that process, Jan Bigland-Pritchard, coordinator of the diocesan Office of Migration, has been instrumental in providing “really good information and good guidance on the process,” LeBlanc says, noting that the Migration office, parishes and partners have done many private sponsorships over the years.
Although the diocese had used up all its allotted refugee spots for the year, the Office of Migration was able to apply for more spots given the situation. As well, the local E.D. Feehan group has support from their local MP, who has written a letter to the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship about the case.
“With everything else falling into place, there is a potential to sign the application and get it approved really quickly,” says LeBlanc. That means the remaining variable will be getting the necessary funds in place.
“We are praying for our Christmas miracle, and for this holy family to find their way to safety.”
To donate via the Go Fund Me campaign, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/refugeeYXE to make a donation.
For those who wish to avoid fees, cheques can be written to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, 123 Nelson Road, Saskatoon, SK S7S 1H1, indicating in the memo “Migration – Feehan.”
(Please note that donations towards the support of an individual family are not eligible for a charitable tax receipt).
For more information about refugee sponsorship, contact the Office of Migration in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon: email@example.com
Guests at a series of open house consultations and presentations on November 17 at Prairieland Park entered a room filled with conceptual drawings, tentative floor plans, a 3-D model and a “virtual explorer” view of select areas for a new St. Frances Cree Bilingual School. What once seemed like a distant, elusive notion, is now a significant and tangible step closer to becoming reality.
GSCS Board of Education Chair Diane Boyko said that having concepts to look at, review and discuss is one of many milestones along the journey of a new physical home for the division’s Cree bilingual program—the largest Indigenous language program in Canada.
“The destination has been clear from the start, and many people—many who are in this room—have done a lot of work to get us here together,” said Boyko. “I think we are at a point in our journey where we can now see our destination on the horizon. Remembering milestones is important, but the excitement builds when the end goal gets closer and closer, and our gaze turns more and more to what lies ahead.”
Elders Shirely Arcand and John Merasty opened each session with prayer. Representatives from partner-in-education Saskatoon Tribal Council, the school’s parent advocacy group, and architectural firm Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture also addressed students, parents, partners and other guests in attendance.
Students had the opportunity to do hands on activities with robotics kits to demonstrate the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) programming planned for the new building that will be located on the corner of 7th Street East and Grosvenor avenue (the former home of Sion Middle School that was demolished earlier this fall).
Construction of the new school is expected to begin in the spring of 2022.
*Note: All drawings, concepts and designs are draft and subject to change.
After opting to postpone last year’s plans to install a Treaty 6 medal at St. Anne School, the school community hosted a ceremony on October 7, 2021, as a tangible sign of their commitment to treaty education and their collective response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Delaying the event, did not delay the learning that led up to it.
In addition to curricular learning about treaties, the history and culture of First Nations and Métis people in Canada, residential schools and the TRC, Principal Chad Gusikoski commented that the school’s journey along this path started two years ago, when students worked with renowned artist Kevin PeeAce on a mural in the school library.
To respect COVID-19 safety protocols, a handful of guests, speakers and members of the school community attended in person, while students watched the live-stream event in their classrooms. Each classroom was able to share a portion of what they learned such as the history of Treaty 6, Calls to Action, Seven Sacred Teachings and Métis jigging.
Fr. Matthew Ramsay from St. Anne Parish and Tyler Smallchild, a First Nations knowledge keeper, offered prayers and blessings.
In 2018, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools committed to have Treaty 6 medals installed in all schools as a tangible sign of commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. The pandemic slowed plans, but the learning journey continues with more schools hosting events.
Continuing a long-standing partnership with Rotary Club of Saskatoon – Nutana and Meewasin Valley Authority, the Grade 7 and 8 class at St. Anne School—led by teachers Dustin Kasun and Katelyn Stinson—had a celebration at Rotary Park Peace Plaza to install a peace brick honouring Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu-Tum.
The event, where students shared their learning, capped an inquiry-learning unit about reconciliation. (Inquiry learning combines several traditional subject areas to inquire about a question or series of questions, encouraging students to think critically to solve problems.)
Rigoberta Menchu-Tum, born on January 9, 1959 to a poor Indian peasant family, worked on the family farm, where both adults and children went to pick coffee on the big plantations. As a youth, she became involved in social reform activities through the Catholic Church, and became prominent in the women’s rights movement. She and her family faced persecution after a guerilla organization established itself. She would eventually go into hiding in Guatemala, then flee to Mexico, and became an organizer of resistance to oppression in Guatemala and the struggle for Indian peasant peoples’ rights. Over the years, she has become a leading advocate of Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation, not only in Guatemala but in the Western Hemisphere. Read more about Rigoberta Menchu-Tum.
Following a prayer from Elder Arnold Naytayhow from the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, dignitaries from the City of Saskatoon (Mayor Charlie Clark), St. Anne School (Principal Chad Gusikoski), Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (Board of Education Chair Diane Boyko), Rotary Club of Saskatoon – Nutana (Asit Sarkar), and Meewasin Valley Authority (CEO Andrea Lafond) brought greetings and thanks.
The peace brick, along with bricks honouring other dignitaries and Nobel Laureates, can be viewed at the Rotary Park Peace Plaza, west of the Victoria Bridge on the south side of the South Saskatchewan River.
You can see the happiness in their eyes. Early in September 2021, students at Oskāyak High School eagerly opened boxes containing 10 fiddles, thanks to the generosity of world-renowned musicians Natalie MacMaster and her husband, Donnell Leahy.
The gift seeds the new fiddle program at Oskāyak—currently an after-school program. Ted View, principal at Oskāyak, explained, “Our new program will focus on trad, western Canadian, Cape Breton, Quebecois, and Métis fiddle styles through a combination of ‘learning-by-ear’ and by reading music.”
While two students in the program are picking up the fiddle for the first time, seven students are continuing their musical journey that started at St. Michael Community School, where the Métis fiddle program got a boost years ago thanks to the gift of a class set of fiddles from, you guessed it, McMaster and Leahy. Three staff members are also looking to join the group.
“This gift of fiddle music will complement our school’s traditional drumming, singing, and dancing programs,” said View. “I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to Mrs. MacMaster and Mr. Leahy.”
View also extends thanks to Remenyi House of Music Ltd., who provided extra sets of strings, rosin, and spare parts. Lastly but not least, View thanks St Michael principal Cristin Dorgan-Lee who connected him with with MacMaster and Leahy.
Content written by Saskatoon Transit and shared with permission.
Saskatoon Transit and students from the E.D. Feehan Catholic High School Newcomer Youth Engagement Program (NYEP) and the miyo mâcihowin program met with Métis Elder Nora Cummings, First Nations Elder Harry Lafond, and Newcomer Community Leader, Senos Timon to create and design a bus shelter on the north side of Rusholme Road, west of Avenue M by their school.
“There are many ways we can respond as a city to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.” says Mayor Charlie Clark. “This project built a partnership between Saskatoon Transit, E.D. Feehan students and staff, and Indigenous elders and newcomer community leaders in creating this beautiful new bus shelter for the Westmount Neighbourhood. Thank you to everyone involved for the extra effort you put in through COVID to get the project done, congratulations!”
Following the success of the collaborations with students at Aden Bowman Collegiate on a Métis inspired bus shelter, and students at Nutana Collegiate on a First Nations inspired shelter, Saskatoon Transit wanted to work on another Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action, #93. This call-to-action calls to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal people of Canada.
The students from the NYEP and miyo mâcihowin program reflected on Elder Cummings and Lafond’s teachings with inspiration from Newcomer Community Leader Senos Timon to create this piece of art. One of the themes that continued to pop up was the idea that we are all different and should be proud of that, and remember who we are and reach out to one another.
“This shelter is yet another example of building bridges of cross-cultural awareness,” says Jim McDonald, Director of Saskatoon Transit. “It is and will remain a physical reminder of the commitment the City has made on answering the Calls to Action.”
The student’s artwork, inspired by First Nations and Metis Elders and Newcomer Community Leader were put together by Muveddet Al-Katib, an immigrant artist working with the NYEP as an art educator and was then laser cut by Metal Shapes Manufacturing.
“I want to congratulate these young people on this project. It is a legacy they will leave not only for themselves, but for generations to come.” Cummings says. “This project helped to unify our youth, showed them how to work together. They did a wonderful job and will look back on this experience and remember the friendships made working together.”
“The Creator gives to each of us the creative spirit to create beauty through the lens of our cultures,” Lafond says. “The bus stop at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School captures the spirit of many cultures to show the growing diversity of our beautiful city. I hope this helps us understand the importance of these projects to our identity as a community of many peoples.”
“Arts bring people together; it inspires and unifies our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity, and it gives hope and reminds us that we are not alone,” says Senos Timon. “This project is a perfect example of how arts can be a vehicle to build bridges.”
“Students really benefited from meeting with and talking to the elders,” says Mike Stone, NYEP teacher. “It reinforced for students the value of listening to and learning from the stories of those that came before us. The process also helped illustrate to the students that even across differing cultures, there are more similarities than differences that exist between us.”
The idea behind Saskatoon Transit’s Bus Shelter Art Project is to comply with the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #79; calling upon the government, Aboriginal organizations and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration, including integrating Indigenous history, heritage values and memory practices into Canada’s history.
On May 31, 2021, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) and Wanuskewin Heritage Park Authority (WHPA) signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding aptly titled: Nitōhtem, meaning my friend.
The purpose of this MOU is to facilitate collaboration and to aid in the creation of research opportunities and programs that support First Nations land-based learning and innovative teaching practices.
The foundation of this MOU is to undertake activities that will support land-based learning and the access to Indigenous science as well anthropological, and geological learning practices that are oriented within Indigenous natural law. This collaboration will support children’s access to the WHPA site, and will facilitate enhanced learning experiences for kindergarten – Grade 12 students from GSCS schools. The agreement seeks to remove social and developmental impediments for children by establishing effective and respectful working relationships.
“I was thrilled to see all the good work that is going to happen,” said Diane Boyko, Board of Education Chair at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. “It only happens because of relationship, and relationship is something that both the school division and Wanuskewin has had in common for a very long time.”
“We’ve been part of trading partners for 6,000 years amongst different tribes, and this trade now extends to the newcomers,” said Felix Thomas, Board Chair for Wanuskewin Heritage Park. “The partnership, the friendship and the relationships that are built here will thrive for another 6,000 years because of champions like the Catholic school board.”
November 2018 items of note:
October 21, 2016
Day of prayer for reconciliation healing
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, the Roman Catholic Diocese
of Saskatoon and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS), through the leadership of the Diocesan
Council of Truth and Reconciliation, are conducting a Day of Prayer for Reconciliation and Healing on
October 21, 2016.
Students and staff at all 44 division schools located in Saskatoon, Humboldt and Biggar, as well as
division office staff, will join diocesan pastors and staff in prayer for reconciliation and healing.
At the school board office, the reconciliation flag was raised to publicly represent the division’s
commitment to reconciliation and healing.
Gordon Martell, superintendent of learning services at GSCS. “The day of prayer is an opportunity to
demonstrate our support for residential school survivors and their descendants, celebrate our
strengths and seek guidance for the work yet to come. Responding to the calls to action happens
everyday. The day of prayer is a special celebration that punctuates our year and reminds us of the
importance of balance and supporting the mental, physical spiritual and emotional development of
children and youth.”
October 21 is the anniversary of the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first North American
Indigenous woman to be declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Diocesan Council of Truth and Reconciliation is a sharing and consultative circle of Indigenous and
non-Indigenous people providing guidance to the Diocese of Saskatoon. It arose from the promise
made at the Saskatchewan Truth and Reconciliation Commission event held in Saskatoon during the
summer of 2012.
With 44 schools and over 17,000 students, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools is Saskatchewan’s
largest Catholic school division, providing Catholic education from pre-kindergarten through Grade 12
in Saskatoon and area, Biggar, Humboldt, Martensville and Warman. We are rooted in faith, growing in
knowledge and reaching out to transform the world.
For more information contact:
Derrick Kunz, Communications Consultant
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
Blake Sittler, Director of Pastoral Services
Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon