The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) has taken one step in helping to solve the teacher shortage in northeast Saskatchewan.

The First Nation has partnered with the Northern Lights School Division and the University of Saskatchewan to create a Cree Teacher Education Program.

Approximately 44 students are enrolled, with classes already begun. One student from Deschambault Lake, 15 from Sandy Bay and 28 from Pelican Narrows.

“We have a need to increase the number of qualified Indigenous educators,” PBCN Chief Karen Bird said. “It has been long recognized there is an urgent priority in the northeast part of the province due to the teacher shortages.”

Students will attend classes in Sandy Bay and have the option for hybrid class options. Bird said in-class practicums can take place within Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation or Northern Lights School Division schools.

A signing ceremony was held Wednesday to acknowledge the creation of the program.

Bird explained that training more Indigenous teachers, fulfills the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report Calls to Act number’s 62 and 64, regarding Indigenous education.

“The desire of our local communities to expand and offer language and culture is also crucial to our First Nations, to revitalize, maintain and reclaim Indigenous languages and culture,” said Bird.