May 31, 2018

Class of 2018: Werklund School grad sees her education as a two-way investment

Ngatai Crowchild will use her degree to support and develop language programming for Tsuut'ina community
Ngatai Crowchild is passionate about nurturing a community of language learners.

Ngatai Crowchild is passionate about nurturing a community of language learners.

Werklund School of Education

When asked to share some thoughts about her time in the Werklund School of Education, Ngatai Crowchild speaks of community. Not because she enrolled in the Community-Based Bachelor of Education program but because community is what she found.

“The Community-Based cohort felt like exactly that — a community. My cohort was a unique blend of students for whom the traditional model of post-secondary education did not fit. It was because of this unique community that we felt more like a family rather than students within a classroom,” she says.

Crowchild admits that becoming an educator was not on her radar until she began working at the Tsuut'ina Gunaha Institute. “It is because of my experience working with the language program that I found my passion and career goals. I enjoy the work that I do and have centred much of my life to working not only for the language but also for the betterment of the community in general.”

As language education co-ordinator, she supports the language teachers who work in the three nation schools. Crowchild explains the teachers working in the schools are apprentices of the language and work with fluent speakers to teach the language to students from kindergarten through Grade 12.

“For my role it is imperative to not only teach the language but also to foster a community of language learners and revive the spirit and value of why nihigunaha is so important.”

Crowchild says without assistance she could not have juggled the challenges of full-time education, raising a child and maintaining a job. “My personal educational journey has been made possible through the support of my community, the elders and my family,” she says. “My family was such a great support for me by taking care of my son when I had to attend evening classes, and work gave me the necessary time off to complete my practicums.”

Having earned her degree, Crowchild has received offers for teaching positions in a number of Alberta schools but says she plans to give back to her community by returning to the Gunaha Institute. “I feel that my work with the language is a two-way investment. My purpose is to use this degree and all that I have learned over the last few years to support and further develop our language programming.”

For students who feel they might not fit the traditional mold of a post-secondary student, Crowchild has some advice: “From having a consistent relationship with a student adviser, to establishing a core group of peers to help facilitate your learning, or leaning on your at-home support system to keep you on track, know that there is a community of support for your educational goals. Because teaching, in nature, is a community effort for the collective betterment of all students, our educational journeys are not just our own.”