June 30, 2021

Educators receive prestigious award for Indigenous education program

Yvonne Poitras Pratt and Patricia J. Danyluk receive the Alan Blizzard Award
Yvonne Poitras Pratt and Patricia J. Danyluk
Yvonne Poitras Pratt and Patricia J. Danyluk

Two Werklund School of Education faculty members have been honoured for a program aimed at guiding future teachers through the complex world of reconciliation.

Dr. Yvonne Poitras Pratt, BA’02, MA’05, PhD’11, and Dr. Patricia J. Danyluk, PhD, received the prestigious Alan Blizzard Award from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education for their Teaching Scholars Program.

Poitras Pratt and Danyluk received the award for their collaborative work on teaching reconciliation, guiding Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to improve relationships through understanding and learning. “As educators, our utmost goal is to transform the minds of the future educators we teach, so this generation of educators can, in turn, transform the minds of future generations in the classroom,” says Poitras Pratt, Werklund’s director of Indigenous education.

Teaching Scholars Program

Poitras Pratt and Danyluk received three years of funding through the Teaching Scholars Program, allowing them to design learning opportunities for educators and students that incorporate Indigenous perspectives. Their curriculum provides on-site learning opportunities at Indigenous schools for undergraduate teachers, sharing student projects and hosting learning circles. They also designed an Indigenous graduate certificate, parallel to the mandatory Indigenous education course for undergraduates.

For their program, Poitras Pratt and Danyluk developed a concept called reconciliatory pedagogy, which demonstrates how reconciliation is open to all individuals willing to listen and learn, and how educators can transform an individual’s learning experience through a variety of entry points. The reconciliatory pedagogy process involves the Indigenous Education Service-Learning Program. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are paired and work alongside with an Indigenous teacher in their classroom, including working in small groups, one-on-one with students and co-teaching.

Poitras Pratt and Danyluk collected weekly reflections from and met with students to ensure they were understanding their experience. “We have learned about how people in Calgary are quite distanced from the surrounding Indigenous communities,” says Danyluk, former of field experience for Werklund’s Community-Based Bachelor of Education program.

Making waves across the community

Their work reaches far beyond the city limits of Calgary. The educators have been invited to share their learnings with various organizations and educational institutions outside of Calgary, including Medicine Hat College, Northern Cree School Board in Northern Quebec and the University of Victoria.

Poitras Pratt and Danyluk are currently working on a book comprised of program-alumni stories. “We hope to utilize and preserve these stories as inspiration for future educators,” says Danyluk. “It details how students utilize what their acquired knowledge after they have completed the program.”

For more information about Poitras Pratt and Danyluk’s work, visit the program’s website.

Yvonne Poitras Pratt is a Métis scholar and an associate professor at the Werklund School of Education. She completed her PhD in 2011 at UCalgary and has received awards such as the Werklund Teaching Excellence Award, Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Award and the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations Distinguishing Academic Early Career Award.

Patricia J. Danyluk is a senior instructor in the Werklund School of Education. After completing her PhD at Laurentian University, she previously worked as a teacher, college professor, human resources consultant and manager for the Manitoba Government.

ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, “in a good way,” UCalgary is moving toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization.