Bev Fontaine - Presenter

Director of Education
Opaskwayak Cree Nation

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Tansi, my name is Bev Fontaine (kôtâwînaw aski piyesew iskwêw/Mother Earth Thunderbird Woman). I was born and raised on Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the daughter of late Lazarus “Trapper” and Barbara Constant and sibling to four brothers and three sisters. My late father was a trapper and commercial fisherman. My mother was a labourer, going to work cleaning homes after sending us all off to school.

My siblings and I grew up on a strong work ethic. It is this work ethic that helped me attain my first job when I was fourteen; to graduate from high school, and then to pursue post- secondary studies. Together with my late husband Derek, we have seven children, Angel, Marcel, Brittany, Derek, Zachary, Anthony and Ashley. I am the proud kokum of 5 grandchildren. Most of my career life has been working towards the best interests of my community in the area of Education. My passion is in language preservation and revitalization.

Along with other community members, we continuously advocated for a language immersion program to our community leaders. Finally in 2005, we were approved a pilot year in Kindergarten. That was the beginning of our Cree Language Immersion Program. Our Language immersion program is now from Nursery to grade 6. It has been a struggle but we are very proud of our achievements.

Further advocacy for educational opportunities came through appointments to the Keewatin Community College Board of Directors and the University College of the North. We were successful in achieving a new campus for Thompson, MB. My role through education and training is to help empower our children to be self-confident. When a child is self-confident, it opens their world to endless possibilities. It is the start of something positive. We work hard at providing innovative opportunities of self-growth.

With our holistic approach, we provide traditional dance and singing, as well as land based learning and growth. Through proposal writing, we provided fine arts instruction at the community level (guitar, violin and piano). Other self-growth initiatives include our global travel group at the high school level. Our students have been to New Zealand, Australia and the Vimy Ridge Commemoration in 2011.

Another global travel trip took place in July 2016 to Switzerland, France, Scotland and England. It goes without saying that there have been challenges and barriers along the way. As a team, we continue on towards our goals. An Elder once told me, “if you don’t quit, it will get done”. I am very much team oriented. We would not achieve what we have if it was not for teamwork. With strong support and mutual aspirations for our community, we have been able to achieve enhanced education and training programming for OCN members. Ekosi
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Bev Fontaine's Sessions


3:00 - 3:45pm, Opaskwayak Education Services’ student-centered response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bev Fontaine

3:45 - 4:30 pm, Forest Kindergarten; Land-Based Learning, Joyce and Brenda Germain and,
Reading Through the Pandemic: Inspiring Change and Building Resiliency with Online Literacy Tutoring, Jacob Pitawanakwat and Fabrice Grover
Date: October 27, 2021
Time: 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm