Friday, January 20, 2012

Day Ninety-Four: Backgrounder

At the beginning of the 2011 School Year, Sheena Koops, a teacher from Bert Fox Community High School in the Prairie Valley School Division decided to walk to and from school, meditating on the treaties, blogging and posting pictures along the way. In her first blog post, August 29th, Koops asks and answers her own question: “Why would a teacher need to ‘meditate’ on the treaties? I’ve lived in Treaty Four territory most of my life… and as a Saskatchewan teacher, I am expected to bring ‘treaty teachings’ into my classroom; however, I ‘know’ very little about treaties.”
Koops walks to and from school, and each day she posts pictures and writes a blog entry. “If someone asked me, ‘So, what have you learned about the treaties?’ I’d say, ‘Uhhh, ask me in twenty years,” says Koops. “Seriously, I’m learning that Treaty has everything to do with Canadian history; and everything to do with my present job, home, and land; and everything to do with the society we live in; and everything to do with the future my daughters are inheriting. The more I think on treaties, the more I know this will be a life-long walk.”
Sheena Koops has been a classroom teacher for seventeen years, working in urban, First Nation and rural Saskatchewan within the private, band, public, and community school systems. The Koops’ lived for five years on a Dene reserve in a Northern Saskatchewan fly-in community, teaching at Father Porte Memorial Dene School. She currently teaches at Bert Fox Community High School in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, which has a demographic of approximately 60 percent First Nations (primarily Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, M├ętis) and 40 percent “newcomers” (primarily European). In 1989, Sheena married fellow educator, Michael Koops. They share three daughters, Victoria, Moira, and Arwen.
In 2006 she wrote her Master of Education thesis at the University of Regina, entitled Blue Eyes Remembering Toward Anti-Racist Pedagogy. In 2006 Koops published a teen novel, Voice of the Valley, with Orca books in Victoria, BC. She has published in Fine Lifestyles Magazine. In 2012 she will Edit the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Teen Magazine, Windscript. Koops will facilitate the Sage Hill Writing Experience, Regina Teen Experience in July as well as an adult writing weekend in May at the Calling Lakes Centre in Fort San.
From 1996 to 2002, Koops facilitated two major research projects with the Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research into Teaching, “Dreams and Involvement: A Black Lake Quest for 2000” and “Success Redefined: Implementing Traditional Curriculum, Skills, and Values”. Her research utilized narrative non-fiction to make the research accessible.
Of all Sheena’s affiliations, she is most honoured by her relationship with Keitha Brass and her friends at Fort Qu’Appelle’s Community Outreach. One of her favourite routines continues to be Friday soup and bannock at Outreach.
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