pse-conferenceMNO President Gary Lipinski (far left) participating in a panel
discussion during the closing of the Aboriginal Postsecondary
Education Conference. (Left to right) Bonnie Patterson, President
and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, Rosie Mosquito,
Executive Director of Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training
Institute, S. Brenda Small, Dean of Negahneeewin College and
Community Development Confederation College and Don Drummond,
Economic Advisor, TD Bank and Adjunct Professor, Queen’s
On March 5-6, 2011, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities organized the first Aboriginal Postsecondary Education Gathering in Toronto. The event brought together over 300 education leaders, faculty, practitioners, administrators, learners, elders, senators, and youth to share the common goals of improving the educational achievements of Aboriginal people, closing the educational attainment gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners in Ontario, and to “Learn from Each Other,” the theme of the Gathering.

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski was one of the dignitaries who provided opening remarks and he was also a member of a panel that closed the event. In his remarks, President Lipinski recalled some of the challenges and obstacles Aboriginals students have that he observed while teaching, and also the challenges he faced as a University student. “Compared to other Ontarians, Métis people still face considerable socio-economic challenges including lower income and education rates,” explained President Lipinski, “but our population is young and growing and we are working to ensure that our young people complete high school and postsecondary studies.”

The Gathering provided the MNO the opportunity to showcase the considerable success of its education and training programs:

  • MNO Director of Education and Training Jennifer St. Germain presented on how MNO programs prepare Aboriginal students for the labour market and to successfully transition to postsecondary education;
  • Robert Karklins, Manager of the MNO Aboriginal Apprenticeship Center at Sault College, presented on factors that assist Aboriginal learners transition into the labour force;
  • MNO Postsecondary Analyst Benny Michaud and MNO youth Ginny Gonneau presented on the ISPAYIN program’s success in engaging Aboriginal young people;
  • As part of a student panel, Janine Landry, Thunder Bay Council, Youth Representative, described her experiences attending Lakehead University. Janine expressed her gratitude to the MNO for the support she received from its programs;
  • Senator Alis Kennedy shared her perspective on the Elders and Senators panel;
  • Dr. Brenda Macdougall, chair of Métis Studies at the University of Ottawa presented in a session that explored different approaches and concepts of learner success. The session was moderated by Dr. Chris Paci, the MNO Manager of Education and Training. Dr. Paci also helped organize the Gathering as a member of the organizing Steering Committee.

In addition to these speakers, MNO Chair France Picotte joined the Honourable Chris Bentley, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the Honourable John Milloy, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse in providing opening remarks on the second day when the Ontario government released its Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Policy Framework. Senator Roland St. Germain also provided the opening and closing prayers.

Further information about the conference including copies of presentations and speeches can be found on the Aboriginal Postsecondary Education Gathering website at: