M’CHIGEENG—Robert Beaudin is looking forward to helming the M’Chigeeng Board of Education through what promises to be a very exciting time in the years ahead. Although he found the last decade he has spent as an educational consultant rewarding on many levels, Mr. Beaudin said he is also looking forward to settling in at home for an extended run. “I tallied it up the other day and I figure that I spent over 100 nights in hotels across the province last year,” he said. “There comes a time when that loses its appeal. Actually, it was probably about the second week away from home.”
Despite his sojourn in foreign parts, Mr. Beaudin managed to keep his hand in community issues, sitting on the band council and working to help steer the community on a path towards prosperity and self-sufficiency.
“There are a lot of challenges ahead,” Mr. Beaudin admitted, particularly with the imposition of the Conservative government’s First Nations Control of Education Act. “But there a lot of strengths here in M’Chigeeng. For one, there is the human resources, we have a well qualified staff to work with.”
He said he intends to work toward making M’Chigeeng’s schools and post-secondary education second to none in the province. The new education director pointed to the successes that have already taken place in the community with the literacy program, the nursery program and statistics that have shown a consistent improvement year over year in the community.
“Literacy is the key,” he said, noting that a community centred approach will help lead the way to success. Mr. Beaudin also pointed to recent negotiations on partnership programs with an east coast Native university as a potential a key driver.
Coupling language development and strengthening, with an immersion program at the daycare and the staunch support of chief and council, the impact will not be limited to the school.
“The comprehensive community plan is a form of data collection from which we can extrapolate,” noted Mr. Beaudin. “I am the technician that helps to take that data and move things forward. It will reflect on all aspects of our education system from early childhood education to post secondary programs.”
Mr. Beaudin said that the board of education’s key role is to strengthen the community and to give it the tools they need to meet the challenges ahead. That includes building a strong foundation of the language in the community. “We need to protect ourselves from the external,” he said. “That will mean a big focus on Ojibwe speaking offerings across the spectrum and providing support when students go to external institutions, but also provide opportunities and support for the adult community at home.”
Mr. Beaudin recognizes that he has as big responsibility as he has an opportunity to shape the future of the community in the years ahead. “But I am not alone on that journey,” he said. “I have a very good team behind me and a great community and leadership to point me in the direction they want to go. I just have to make sure the mechanisms are strong and in place to get us there.”