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What gives your life meaning?

January 23, 2020

It is funny how we all start to think about our lives and how we go through difficulties, time of clarity, confusion along with joy and excitement. Yes, our lives hold rich meaning as we unfold our purpose of living. However, what really motivates you to do your best in everything in YOUR life?

Years ago, Krista McMillen decided to be a teacher. She found that it was a good place to learn, grow, and express herself. As Krista evolved in her teaching career, she found that she really wanted to reach out and help children with exceptionalities and their families as they struggled learning in her classroom. This greater purpose aligned with what turned out to be a deeper passion and commitment to research and promote student mental health. “As a learning resources teacher or a student support teacher, it means that I am the biggest impact on these kids and their education and how they can contribute to the workforce and society.”

As a classroom teacher, you have an impact on children one maybe two years, but as a learning resources teacher Krista realized that her teaching influenced her students and their families for a lifetime. Krista fulfilled one of her purposes become a bigger inspiration for Saskatchewan classrooms with the funding from the McDowell Foundation.

I constantly question my own Life’s Purpose and Legacy. Legacy Giving simply stated is the process of an individual planning to facilitate a gift to a charitable organization covering the full spectrum of generosity by individuals now and for the future. What does your Legacy look like? Have you ever thought about the future of education for Saskatchewan’s children by supporting the McDowell Foundation’s endowment fund? Let me back up. Do you know the ancient Greek proverb, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit”? That is what I mean; a Legacy can take on a meaning specifically for you by planning and creating your own Legacy in advance of your passing. It is a hard subject to think and talk about, but it is also an important topic to fulfill your life’s wishes after you are gone.

Legacy Giving is honouring a loved one by using the value of your donation dollars, small and large to help make a difference with the McDowell Foundation in your Will. Legacy Giving is people, people from all lifestyles and income levels. People like you, who want to and are making a difference in the world. People like you would want to leave a Legacy you will never see, but will help add “tomorrows” for our future Saskatchewan students.

Bequests are one of the most popular planned gift tools. They are gifts made through Wills that an organization receives after the death of the donor and usually one of the easiest to make, costing you the donor nothing during your lifetime. If you are considering a Bequest gift in your Will only takes a simple designation, and this provision can change at any time. It is easy to include in a new Will, or added to an existing Will through a simple amendment or a codicil.

Planned Giving is a way to make an impact and grow a meaningful Legacy, both for yourself, and for the McDowell Foundation, in ways that you likely had never imagined. It is a way to build a more secure future for yourself, your loved ones, and research in Saskatchewan students through The Foundation. Is the McDowell Foundation already in your Will? Thank you! Please let us know about your plans as it helps the Foundation plan for the future.

If you would like more tools to your Legacy Planning, our website offers some guidance on Bequests, Life Insurance, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, and Real Estate. Visit where the Foundation accepts gifts of many different kinds. For gifts of a more complex nature, we highly recommend always having conversations with your family, lawyer, financial advisor, or accountant. If you have any questions, want to talk about our Legacy Society or would like to know more about remaining anonymous, you can reach me 306-373-1660 or at by email

Thank you to all of our donors that help us inspire and support many worthwhile research projects. We deeply appreciate the generosity of our donors and funders and encourage you to join our on-going support for teacher-led research in Saskatchewan. You support allows us to continue funding teacher-led research projects like Inclusion for children with exceptionalities; Reconciliation; Developing sense of belonging through land based-education; Practicing anti-racist education and more. Each gift makes a difference! Your Legacy Gift will continue to be a transformative gift for our future students.
–Colleen Ostoforoff

Learning From Practice 2020: What is an Inclusive and Diverse Classroom?

January 6, 2020

In thinking about our theme and the projects that will be presenting at this year’s Learning From Practice conference, it is important that we continue to build on other conversations occurring throughout the province about the role of public education.

Conversations about inclusion and diversity and what that looks like are occurring at a number of tables in the province. When thinking about what an inclusive classroom might look like for Saskatchewan students, the report Education Re-Imagined: 12 Actions for Education released in the fall of 2019 provides the basis for this year’s conference theme in Recommendation One:

Learning spaces must be resourced so that teachers can create a safe and effective learning environment for the diversity of student learning.

What does a safe and effective learning environment look like for all students in the province; and how can the work of the McDowell Foundation support this recommendation?

You do not have to look far in the province to find teachers hard at work supporting inclusion and diversity in the classroom. The McDowell Foundation is fortunate to have Chris Scribe, Nakota/Nehiyaw (Assiniboine/Cree) from the Carry the Kettle Nakoda Oyade provide the keynote address at the annual Learning From Practice (LFP) conference. Chris is the director of the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) at the University of Saskatchewan and the founder of Think Indigenous, a conference designed to inspire educators to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into the everyday practices of teaching. In addition, Chris co-created the Red Talks – a series of podcasts designed to create understanding and knowledge of Indigenous ways of knowing in education. Chris has become an advocate for Indigenous knowledge in education and will be sharing his passion with all of us.

At lunch we will be joined by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty and Her Honour Donna Mirasty. His Honour will bring greetings and present the McDowell Foundation Research Award for the 2019-20 year. The McDowell Foundation was chosen as a patronage by the Lieutenant Governor as part of his commitment to focus on reconciliation and education in his five-year term.

In addition, a number of other McDowell researchers will also be in attendance to share what they have learned from their research projects including presentations on the following:

  • Catholic School Teachers Enacting Papal Encyclical Laudato si’ (Praise Be To You – On Care For Our Common Home)
  • Cross-Cultural Collaboration and Belonging in an Islamic School
  • Exploring Reconciliation and Understanding Through Art
  • History Underground: The Road to Conciliation
  • Indigenous Culture-Based School Mathematics for Reconciliation and Professional Development
  • Navigating Elementary Schooling Across Borders: Refugee Children’s Pre- and Post-Migration Experiences
  • Promising Practices for Meaningful Family Engagement
  • Stumbling Towards Enlightenment: How Diverse Lead Learners Helped Develop a System-Wide Instructional-Support Approach to Improve Indigenous Students’ Achievement

Learning From Practice is an annual conference hosted by the McDowell Foundation to support teacher-led research in the province. The one-day event is being held in Saskatoon on January 31, 2020 at the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation building. Register at



October 17, 2019

A McDowell Salon Series will take place in Saskatoon on Saturday, November 2 at 11:40 a.m. at Circle Drive Alliance Church (3035 Preston Avenue South). The conversation will include:

  • Sharon Meyers (Educator, First Nations and Métis Education Consultant and Lead Researcher).
  • Glen Aikenhead (Curriculum Studies, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan).
  • Ruth Beatty (Undergraduate studies in education, Lakehead University).
  • Christina Ruddy (Knowledge Keeper, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation).

Through a roundtable conversation, the participants will be exploring ideas developed through a research project entitled Culture-Based School Mathematics for Reconciliation and Professional Development that was funded by the McDowell Foundation. The conversation will focus on three key areas:

  • The importance of including Indigenous and Western ways of knowing on mathematics curriculum.
  • The need to unlearn ideas in order to create space for learning.
  • The importance of collaboration and support in professional development.

The Salon Series is designed to provide research teams with an opportunity to share their research and to engage community stakeholders in ongoing conversations about next steps. The McDowell Foundation has provided close to $2 million in funding supporting more than 300 teacher-led research projects for the benefit of Saskatchewan students.

McDowell Foundation Receives Honourary Patronage of the Lieutenant Governor

August 8, 2019

SASKATOON – The Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research Into Teaching is pleased to announce that His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan will serve as the Honourary Patron of the Foundation during his term in office.

“We are thrilled that the Lieutenant Governor will be continuing his support of the McDowell Foundation in his new role,” McDowell Foundation Manager Ellen Whiteman stated. “During his time as a member of the board of the Foundation, His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty was a valued addition by bringing his knowledge of northern Saskatchewan and serving as our public representative.”

The McDowell Foundation provides funding for teacher-led research in the province through their partnership with the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. In their more than 25 years, the Foundation has funded almost 300 teacher-led research projects and awarded over $1.8 million in grants. His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty served as a member of the board for the past year.

The Lieutenant Governor’s service to education has also been shown through helping lead the Student First Engagement Process and as a member of the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents.

“We are grateful for His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty’s deep commitment to education and wish him all the best as our province’s Lieutenant Governor,” said Whiteman.



April 30, 2019

A McDowell Salon Series will take place in Regina on Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at Arcola Community School (2315 Abbott Road). The conversation will include Krista McMillen (Educator and Lead Researcher), Alaina Harrison (Inclusion Saskatchewan), Tracy Kosteniuk (Parent), Jennifer Walter (Parent), Sarah West (Parent), and Trish Hastings (Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation).

Through a roundtable conversation, the team will be sharing results from their research project funded by the McDowell Foundation. The project, entitled Parent/Guardian Voices: Experiences and Perspectives of Parents of Children With Exceptionalities, focuses on the experiences of parents acting as advocates for inclusion within the education system for their students with exceptional needs.

The Salon Series is designed to provide research teams with an opportunity to share their research and to engage community stakeholders in ongoing conversations about next steps. The McDowell Foundation has provided close to $2 million in funding supporting more than 283 teacher-led research projects for the benefit of Saskatchewan students.

Muskrats and Fire Book Now Available

March 29, 2019

Now Available:

For Purchase or Download

To download a copy, click here.

Muskrats and Fire, written by Renée Carrière in collaboration with Charlebois Community School students in Cumberland House, provides a personal account of their journey to discover; where have all the muskrats gone?


The book weaves historical and present-day teachings shared by community Knowledge Keepers with the Saskatchewan K-12 curriculum. Stories centre around one Cree dialect and the cultural experiences of a specific community. It is not meant to encompass all Indigenous communities or cultural practices.


To purchase copies, contact
the McDowell Foundation at
306-373-1660/Toll free: 1-800-667-7762

2017-2018 Annual Report

December 6, 2018

The Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research Into Teaching Inc. Annual General Meeting was held December 2018. The 2017-18 Annual Report was presented to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Executive.

McDowell News – December 2018

December 5, 2018

It is hard to believe that it is already December. Season’s greetings from the McDowell Foundation. Please check out our December newsletter for the latest updates from the Foundation.

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