Concerns raised that Indigenous voices could be left out of education commission
A review of Manitoba's education system is now underway, and teacher Ellen Bees wanted to be involved.
She took part in the first of a series of interactive public workshops.
"We had a really great start to it, where they were engaging teachers and parents and other community members," she said.
Bees said the commission wants input on issues in the education system that need to be addressed, and they have a big question to answer.
"How can we best help students learn?"
Concerns are being expressed though, that not everyone will get an opportunity for input.
Venue locations are being questioned and some worry Indigenous voices could be left out of the discussion.
"Nobody's contacted us or people in our community," said Elder Barbara Nepinak. "Like the wisdom keepers and the knowledge keepers."
Nepinak, an Ojibwe teacher in the Seven Oaks School Division, said the commission needs to do more to access the Indigenous community.
"We have knowledge keepers. People with very specific knowledge areas."
But she said before they can share their knowledge, they have to be asked directly to contribute.
"That's the proper protocol," said Nepinak.
Commission co-chair Clayton Manness said the commission has worked very hard to reach out to the Indigenous community and all Manitobans.
"I think we're pretty proud of our outreach," he said. Manness said in the days to come, the commission will hold public workshops across the province, including stops in Thompson, The Pas and Brandon.
Plus he says everyone can reach out to them online.
"You know we're getting hundreds of comments, and input from people online."
Manness says if it is made evident to the commission it's short in some areas, it will consider expansion. But he says they're not there yet. And the work continues to shape the future of education in our province.