A First Nations educator is organizing a Saskatchewan First Nations spelling bee through Spelling Bee of Canada that will make provincial and national history.
Poundmaker student support worker Pauline Favel says Spelling Bee of Canada’s nationals in Toronto has never included a First Nations-only provincial team. Spelling Bee of Canada officials have confirmed that.
That will change when the First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee gets underway in North Battleford on April 8.
Favel says she was inspired after she saw the effect on kids when she was working at another school.
“They would come and say ‘we studied, Miss Favel, we studied. And just that, to me, was so, it’s rewarding to see that because they get excited about it,” she said.
Studying for a spelling bee brings out a healthy competitive spirit, but it also has a lot of benefits. Spelling Bee of Canada’s focus on literacy and family involvement are a natural fit for First Nations communities, Favel said.
“We also want the parents to support literacy, right? They study with the child,” she said.
And when she found out that Saskatchewan isn’t currently participating in the national Spelling Bee of Canada bees, Favel decided to create a competition for the Saskatchewan region that includes First Nations.
“We’re just trying to do something to get our First Nations schools more involved, who knows, next year Yorkton Tribal council might have its own regionals,” she said, using Prince Albert Grand Council as another example of a group that might be inspired by the spelling bee.
So, she sent out correspondence to the directors of tribal councils, and started organizing the first-ever First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee.
The three winners from that will head to nationals in Toronto on May 15.
Favel says having nationals as a big goal – which includes cash prizes – is inspiring for kids.
The April competition will include trophies and prizes as well.