Renée Carrière

My involvement with the McDowell Foundation started in 2014-15 with my local research titled the Muskrat/Wuchusk Project. With my students from Charlebois Community School in Cumberland House, we explored together questions they raised: Why is the water so brown? Where have all the muskrats gone? We did a followup project that explored the practices of incorporating the learnings of the first project into curriculum and led to further student/community engagement into the use of fire on the land.

The support of the Foundation was key in supporting us accessing Cree language and historical knowledge resources outside of Charlebois Community School, including Elders and Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keepers, generating land-based activities, and aided us in creating new partnerships. As our final report for The Muskrat Project, we created a children’s book, Muskrats and Fire, that weaves historical and current knowledges/teachings shared by our community, understandings of Saskatchewan western scientists, with the Saskatchewan K-12 curriculum. The story centres around one Cree dialect and the cultural experiences of a specific community.

My connection to the McDowell Foundation continued, and I joined the McDowell Board of Directors in 2018. I brought my experience not only as a researcher but also as a land-based teacher from a northern community. During my time on the Board, several important changes came about, including formal recognition of the importance of Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Indigenous historical knowledge in action, in the research granting process, a shift to accepting oral components to the grant process to respect Indigenous traditions and a motion to recognize and respond to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (2015). While other responsibilities mean I must step down from the Board this year, I wish to deeply thank the McDowell Foundation and its Board in its continued critical commitment and support of Saskatchewan educators from all areas of our province who pledge to engage the children of Saskatchewan that we serve through exciting research. Thank you for including me in the wonderful journey of continued lifelong learning.

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