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2022 First Nations, Métis & Inuit Education Gathering


A new webpage for the 2023 event will be available once the program is finalized.

PDF  2022 Gathering Witness Statement by Charlene Bearhead
PDF  2022 Learning Survey Report
PDF  2022 Gathering Program at a Glance

PDF  2022 Gathering Program Book with session descriptions and speaker biographies

Conference Details

In partnership with Alberta Education.

We continue to grow the vision of bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, education partners and members of our communities together to share our experiences and stories as we progress in our collective journey to reconciliation through education. Over the span of 7 years and 5 Gatherings, the movement has continued to gain strength, depth, and momentum as the relationships and commitments grow.

Our sixth Gathering builds upon the learning experiences that CASS and our education partners have gained and from our participants’ feedback through the years. This year, our Gathering will focus on Sharing Our Truth.Learning the truth about Canada’s historical reality, both past and current with Indigenous Peoples is essential to achieving reconciliation, a mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canada. As former Senator Murray Sinclair has stated, “Truth is hard. Reconciliation is harder”. Watch a short message from former Senator Murray Sinclair on the importance of the first national Truth and Reconciliation Day, September 30 , 2021 (TRC Call to Action #80) to commemorate the importance of learning the truth of Indian Residential Schools and their enduring legacy.

At our sixth Gathering, we will continue to share the truth of Canada’s history and invite you to join us as we build our knowledge and understanding of the truth, while encouraging  each participant to commit to a personal pledge of reconciliation.

We are honoured once again to be hosting an amazing lineup of noted Indigenous speakers and presenters.

We also have a strong array of sessions that offer a balance of First Nations, Métis and Inuit learning about languages, cultures, research, resources, relationship building and perspectives. Traditional Indigenous ceremony and practices will be included throughout the Gathering.

Please join us as we come together to listen and learn with one another, share with one another and breath life into education for reconciliation for all of our children.

In lieu of gifts to presenters, CASS will make a donation to the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth. https://usay.ca/

We are proud to go green, finding a balance between saving trees and providing delegates with enough information before hand to ensure smooth movement from session to session. Please download and print documents you feel you will need. Printed copies will not be provided at the Gathering. Please also bring your reusable cup or water bottle to support this initiative.

Keynote Speakers

Opening Evening Performance

We are honoured to have on our opening evening the highly popular and successful production, A Story of Reconciliation, featuring dance, music, (blending of Blackfoot and Peter Gabriel) by New Blood Production. This moving show is inspired by the life of Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman and his experience as a child in residential school, how he reclaimed his way of life and became chief of his people.

Opening Keynote – Michael Redhead Champagne https://www.michaelredheadchampagne.com/

Michael Redhead Champagne has spent over two decades speaking out and leading by example. He takes a hopeful and solution oriented approach to youth engagement, facilitation, community organizing and mobilization.

In 2018, Michael received a Kids Help Phone Regional Volunteer Award & in 2017 was recognized with a Meritorious Service Decoration from the Governor General of Canada. 2016 Canadian Red Cross Young Humanitarian of the Year and in TIME Magazine as a Next Generation Leader. Michael has also received a Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award as well as recognition as a CBC Manitoba Future 40 leader, a Manitoba Hero, and a Future Leader of Manitoba. He has been included as part of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health movement in both 2018 & 2019.

As a founder of AYO! (Aboriginal Youth Opportunities), he is committed to a wide variety of community initiatives including Meet Me at the Bell Tower, AYO Politix, ARROWS Youth Engagement Strategy, 13 Moons Harm Reduction & Fearless R2W. He is passionate about mentoring young people, encouraging all to share their gifts and build their system literacy. He has appeared in various media platforms including APTN’s First Contact & has served as co-host for CKUW’s Inner City Voices for the past 5 years. Michael has served as president of North End Community Renewal Corporation, a board member for the Circle of Life Thunderbird House and Marymound Inc. In 2016, he served on the Bank of Canada’s #BankNOTEable Advisory Committee with a task of creating a short list of women nominated by the public to appear on a new bank note. His recent system work includes the Manitoba Child Welfare Legislative Review Committee, the federal Expert Panel on Youth Employment & with Kids Help Phone, both the Texting Advisory Committee & Indigenous Advisory Council.

Michael is known for his straight up and heartfelt style that will leave you moved, inspired and ready for action.

Banquet Keynote – JR Larose

JR LaRose is a 2011 Grey Cup champion. A proud member of One Arrow First Nation, he is an ambassador for Aboriginal peoples. He is an accomplished speaker speaking and facilitating over 400 presentations throughout Canada and the United States since 2008. A proud family man JR’s path to success has been a long and hard fought journey. Growing up in low incoming housing in Edmonton’s inner city didn’t exactly set JR up for success but it did give him the drive to succeed. JR grew up without a father. His father, of Nigerian heritage, was deported back to his native country before JR was born. JR never met his Dad. Read full story…

This is JR’s WHY. What’s yours?

Closing Keynote – Crystal Martin-Lapenskie

Crystal Martin-Lapenskie is a noteworthy leader in the Inuit advocacy space and has advanced Inuit-specific programs and services since graduating from the Social Service Worker Program at Algonquin College. Her passion led her to become elected the President for the National Inuit Youth Council from 2019-2021, during her time as President, she also served as the Inuit Youth representative for the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Canada. Crystal is known for her articulate political advancements in improving the lives of Inuit youth through mental health, education, infrastructure and climate change.

Gathering Witness and Featured Author Charlene Bearhead

Charlene Bearhead is a mother, grandmother, educator, Indigenous education advocate and author with over 30 years of regional, national and international experience.  Charlene is the Director of Reconciliation at Canadian Geographic, and member of the Indigenous Education Advisory Circle for National Film Board. Previously Charlene served as education days coordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, education coordinator for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, education advisor for the Canadian Geographic Indigenous People’s Atlas of Canada and member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Education working group, the first education lead for both the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC. Bearhead also served as the Indigenous Relations Coordinator for both the Alberta School Boards Association and CASS.  Charlene is the co-author of the children’s book series, Siha Tooskin Knows.

About the Book Series: Siha Tooskin Knows

Siha Tooskin Knows is a series of 8 early chapter books that have been embraced and widely used across Turtle Island to read aloud to younger children, read with older children and teens, and to educate adults of all cultures and walks of life.

Siha Tooskin, or Paul Wahasaypa as he is known to his teachers and school friends, is an 11-year-old Nakota boy living in an urban centre with his Ena (mom), Ade (dad) as well as his little brother, Danny. The family even welcomes a baby sister, Laura, in the 4th book, Siha Tooskin Knows the Cather of Dreams.

Siha Tooskin loves spending time with Mitoshin (grandpa), Mugoshin (grandma) and his Uncle Lenard as he learns so much from each of them.  You will also get a glimpse in to experiences in Siha Tooskin’s life where he is able to share his culture and knowledge with his non-Indigenous classmates, neighbors and even his teacher.

The books do have a subtle sequence based on the seasons and times of the year that the stories occur, but each book stands on its own in terms of the story and the teachings.  Baby Laura joins the family in the fourth book so is not mentioned in the first three.

Each book contains a glossary of Nakota terms that appear in the respective book as well as an explanation of the dialect of Nakota and the spelling used in the Siha Tooskin Knows series.

This series is co-authored with Elder Wilson Bearhead, who is also the Gathering’s Cultural Director.

Wilson Bearhead is Nakota, a member of the Wabamun Lake First Nation in Treaty 6 territory and the co-author of the children’s book series, Siha Tooskin Knows.  Wilson has served as Chief in his own community, Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty 6 as well as the Assembly of First Nations Alberta Regional Chief.  Wilson was the first Elder in Residence for Edmonton Public Libraries before moving to serve as the Elder for Elk Island Public Schools for 4 years and is now the Elder in Residence at Victoria School for the Arts in Edmonton Public Schools.  Wilson is the recent recipient of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation Indigenous Elder Award.  Wilson’s grandmother Annie was a powerful, positive influence in his young life, teaching him all of the lessons that gave him the strength, knowledge, and skills to overcome difficult times and embrace the gifts of life.

Resource Materials

Personal Pledge of Reconciliation

Indigenous Gathering Highlights 2021

Impacts of Intergenerational Trauma – Tim Fox


Two-eyed Seeing and Science Education: The Role of Alberta’s Science Centres by Alan Nursall, Fred Hines & Mary Anne Moser – Telus World of Science and Nancy Spencer-Poitras – Northland School Division

Beyond the Sash – Rupertsland Resources

Oo’mahn’istay Iikakimaaks : You’ve Got a Story Next Steps to a New Beginning

Canadian Geographic Resources
Presentation Slides

Gathering Supporters


Intellimedia LP offers services and solutions that maximize the value of systems and data to power and achieve organizational success. Equipped with extensive knowledge and experience in business process, data management, and integration, Intellimedia helps organizations expand capabilities of existing systems, as well as complements them with customized solutions.  

An Edmonton based Software Company, Intellimedia offers licensed software solutions, technical professional services as well as IT and management consulting to K-12 Schools and School Districts. With a well-established Client base in Alberta and numerous others throughout Canada and all around the world, Intellimedia has become a trusted partner to many School Districts, both large and small scale. 

Among our flagship education solutions are Dossier Education Management System, SchoolEngage, and InteliLink all of which help maximize the value of data as well as increase organizational capacity to ease administrative burden.

For over a century, Nelson has built and continues to strengthen its partnerships with educators and school administrators across Canada, and around the world, who enhance the ongoing development of trusted learning solutions aligned to curriculum expectations. As the education landscape continues to evolve, now more than ever, Nelson’s mission to re-imagine and define these learning solutions, preparing students for tomorrow’s workplace, remains at the core of our values.

Wherever learning happens, Nelson resources are designed to support the educational journey. From engaging and state-of-the-art technologies, to authentic classroom resources, to professional learning services, Nelson’s commitment is steadfast in supporting lifelong learners.

Alberta Mentoring Partnership (AMP) is a network of community mentoring agencies, government, and youth working together to raise the profile of mentoring in Alberta. We exist to help schools and mentoring agencies meet the needs of the youth they serve. Our mission is working together to strengthen Alberta’s capacity to support and enhance mentoring, and our vision is for young people to thrive through mentoring relationships.


Enhance learning and teaching as well as school safety with FrontRow.  FrontRow offers portable, standalone, or integrated audio systems for K-12 classrooms with smart technologies that make classroom audio, lecture capture, AV control, paging, intercom, bells, and emergency notification simple and easy.

The Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA) was established in 1963 as a province-wide, non-profit organization with the goal of providing a united voice for retired educators. Since then, ARTA has grown to over 27,000 members and provides many services, including healthcare and dental insurance plans, wellness events and information, and retirement resources of all kinds.

Education is very important to ARTA members, and that includes doing our part when it comes to Indigenous education for seniors. In addition to supporting Indigenous retired educators among our membership, and beginning our meetings with a land acknowledgement, ARTA takes an active role in providing educational resources and facilitating conversations on topics of Indigenous Education.

ARTA’s quarterly magazine, news&views, regularly publishes stories and articles (written by our members) that explore many aspects of Indigenous knowledge. In the last year, we’ve shared stories, poetry, and articles on topics such as the 60’s Scoop, the Seven Sacred Teachings, and the importance of Alberta’s traditional waterways. In 2021, we partnered with an organization called Reconciliation Education to offer a discount to our members to take a course to improve their knowledge of Indigenous cultures, histories, and the ongoing reconciliation conversation.

After almost three decades in business, Staples Canada is ready to embrace all that’s new. The changing nature of entrepreneurship, creativity, working, learning and growing is happening everywhere you look and it has inspired us to focus on your ever-evolving needs.

We’re transforming Staples Canada to The Working and Learning Company – a company that’s committed to being a dynamic, inspiring partner for all our customers. That means staying true to the company that you’ve come to rely on for all your small business and educational needs, while adapting and growing to serve you better. You’ll see growth in our product offerings and expansion in the services you already know and love us for. We’re taking everything we do for you, our customers, to the next level.


HighWater Press, an imprint of Portage & Main Press, publishes award-winning stories by emerging and established Indigenous writers. Our catalogue includes national bestsellers, celebrated modern classics, and genre-defying works. These are stories with lasting impact.

We work to honour and support Indigenous resurgence by amplifying diverse narratives that share joy, creativity, strength, bravery, and community. HighWater Press books feature compelling stories and exceptional production quality through a rich mix of non-fiction, graphic novels, and children’s literature.

HighWater Press is dedicated to community, both amongst local authors and storytellers in this territory, and in our extended community of readers who are passionate about authentic storytelling.

Pearson’s K-12 learning solutions are created in collaboration with Canadian educators, with an emphasis on pedagogy, efficacy, and best-in-class content. Pearson is committed to developing a full array of core curriculum, supplementary, assessment, professional, and early learning resources to help students of all ages learn at their own pace, and in their own ways. Representing leading professional learning educators incl. Heinemann, Annick Press, Teacher Created Materials, Taanishi, and more.

Visit pearsoncanada.ca/ata for more details! If you have any questions, please contact our sales representative.

Professional Learning, Faculty of Education

The Faculty of Education, through it’s Professional Learning programs and courses, provides high-quality educational experiences for teachers in a wide variety of school environments: rural, urban, public, Catholic, and Indigenous education contexts. We are currently working with Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority (KTCEA), Edmonton Public and Catholic Schools, Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC) and the Fort Vermilion School District, along with graduates from the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP). Our programs go beyond lectures, providing in-service teachers and school leaders with opportunities to engage in authentic tasks and experiences directly linked to their professional needs. We support teachers in all stages of their careers with part-time, flexible, online learning options:

  • The Graduate Certificate in School Leadership provides opportunities to enhance your skills as a school leader, or aspiring leader, by observing and collaborating with a leadership team of your choice. Courses fulfill academic requirements for Alberta’s LQS and SLQS certification and are offered fully online.
  • The Graduate Certificate in Educational Studies is for teaching professionals and other educational specialists seeking advanced professional learning. Disciplinary focus areas include: Indigenous Education, Early Childhood Education, Mathematics Education, and Technology in Education, with some being offered fully online.

Become an agent of change and create thriving learning environments in your school. Visit https://uab.ca/prolearn for all of our exciting learning opportunities.

Masks can be worn as a personal preference and are no longer mandatory. Edmonton’s Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw has been repealed. Please visit the hotel’s COVID-19 Updates for more information.

The Gathering is now FULL. Thank you for your interest.

Goals for the First Nations Métis and Inuit Education Gathering include:

  • an increase in understanding how to apply foundational knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit for the benefit of all students;
  • an increase in capacity building to meet the learning needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students;
  • an increase in understanding how to engage and collaborate with First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders, Elders, communities and organizations; and
  • an increase in awareness and understanding of how to implement and lead practices that support reconciliation within our schools, school systems, and communities

These goals are in support of the Alberta Education Ministry’s outcomes for 2019-23:

  • Alberta’s students are successful;
  • First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in Alberta are successful;
  • Alberta has excellent teachers, school leaders, and school authority leaders; and
  • Alberta’s K-12 education system is well governed and managed.

CASS Professional Learning Priorities for 2020-23: Leadership and System Excellence


March 14-16, 2022


Conference occurs at the Fantasyland Hotel,
17700-87 Avenue, Edmonton, AB

Reservations can be made by calling (780) 444-5541 or toll-free 1-800-737-3783. MUST mention that you are attending the 2022 CASS Conference or booking code 6282636 to receive the negotiated rate of $159.00/night + tax. 

Special rates will be valid until February 25, 2022.