Minister meets with Education Board Chairs

YELLOWKNIFE (September 15, 2017) - Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Alfred Moses, met with Education Board Chairs last Friday to highlight strategies to address mental health and wellness of students and teachers.  The group has decided to take a thematic approach to their meetings focusing on such matters as indigenizing education, student support and Skills 4 Success.

The group reviewed recent Northwest Territories data and testing results from a number of different sources. The empirical data paints a clear picture of student needs both in the classroom and as they relate to each other and to lifestyle factors. Participants agreed the information will be extremely useful to determine how to direct resources to the most needed areas.

Chairs had previously identified youth mental wellness as an important issue facing students, teachers and communities, expressing a desire to know more about the root causes and new ways to support students.  Minister Moses and Department officials provided a presentation on mental health supports for schools that detailed programs for students such as self-regulation, access to mental health counselors through Northern Counseling and Therapeutic Services, and a Department of Health and Social Services program called Talking About Mental Illness or TAMI.

Teacher wellness and how teachers support students with mental health needs was also addressed in the meeting, with professional development to be offered to teachers to help them identify students who may need help or support.

The Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) also shared details of the proposed Youth Mental Health Strategy.  The group followed with a productive discussion on how to collaborate to further strengthen supports to students and where investments would make the most difference.  HSS consultation with youth clearly identified that young people want a strengths-based approach to the work with mental health and wellness that respects their individuality, thoughts, concerns and privacy. 

The group was also provided with an excellent presentation from the Chair of the Tłįchǫ Community Services Agency.  Chair Ted Blondin highlighted the TCSA’s recently-completed work entitled Tłįchǫ History: Tłįchǫ Stories From Long Ago.  The curriculum features teacher and student resources enabling Tłįchǫ youth and others to connect more closely to their culture and heritage.  Chair Blondin offered to share these resources with his colleagues. 

The next meeting is set for the fall and will focus on indigenizing education and a review of new and supporting data.

Quotes:

“We had a very good meeting, with discussions centering around a very important topic – youth mental wellness.  As Minister Responsible for Youth, this is a real concern to me and I was very glad the Education Board Chairs feel as strongly about it as I do.  I believe we are doing good work in a very challenging area and I look forward to continued progress in this area so our youth are better able to manage and succeed.”
-Alfred Moses, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

“Early intervention is a key investment in the long term mental health and wellness of our students. The NWT Superintendents Association is pleased with the GNWT’s work to address this in the new Health and Wellness Curriculum. Teachers and school staff will be pleased to learn that more avenues of much-needed support are being developed to help them address student needs. We’ll continue to work with the Department of Education to ensure resources are relevant and based on data and best practices.”
-John Stephenson, Chair of Yellowknife Education District No. 1

For more information contact:

Jacqueline McKinnon
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Education, Culture and Employment
T: (867) 767-9352 x 71073
E:  jacqueline_mckinnon@gov.nt.ca

John Stephenson
Chair
Yellowknife Education District No. 1
T: (867) 766-5050
E: John.Stephenson@yk1.nt.ca