The Indian Teacher Education Program of the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan was established in 1972–73 as a two-and-a-half-year program leading to a two-year Standard A certificate. That first year, twenty students were selected to participate in what was then an innovative concept. Since then more than 650 students have graduated from the program, which has evolved to a four-year Elementary and Secondary Program leading to a BEd and a Professional “A” certificate. ITEP is funded through a contribution agreement between Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the University of Saskatchewan. The success of ITEP is reflected in the number and quality of its graduates, who have taken leadership roles in teaching, administration, and band governance in their communities.

Cross-cultural education is incorporated into course work: community Elders are called on, and all student-teachers study an Indigenous language. Academic and personal support is provided by the ITEP counselling and instructional staff. ITEP attributes its success to the strong network of students who are experts in the delivery of cross-cultural education. Three-quarters of band schools in Saskatchewan have ITEP graduates teaching in them; and since ITEP has been running for more than thirty years, it is not uncommon for today’s student-teachers to be children of those from the first graduating classes. While most ITEP graduates in the past majored in elementary education, the emphasis in the 21st century is on preparation for teaching in secondary schools, where there is an even greater need for First Nations teachers and role models.

James McNinch