• Strategic Theme #1

    Educational Success


    Every school, department, and staff member sees their role in Cree education through the lens of Educational Success. This strategic theme is a constant reminder of what the Cree School Board is truly about: creating a better future for students and their communities.

    Educational Success is measured in a number of ways:

    • How are students performing academically?
    • Are all students motivated and engaged?
    • Is our diverse student body given the resources and opportunities they need to succeed?

    We have collected statistics, testimonials, and stories from across the Cree School Board to answer these questions for the 2016-2017 year.

  • ᐧᐋ ᐄᔑ ᐱᐦᑯᐦᑖᑲᓅᑦ #1

    ᒉ ᒌ ᔖᐳᔥᑲᐦᒃ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᒉᐧᐃᓐ


    ᒥ ᓯᐧᐁ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᑐᑲᒥᒄᐦ, ᐁ ᐹᐱᐦᑳᓂᔥᑌᐧᑳᐤᐦ ᐋᐸᑎᓰᐧᐃᓐᐦ ᑲᔦᐦ ᓂᓈᐦᑰ ᐃᑖᐸᑎᓰᓱᒡ ᒉ ᒌ ᐄᔑ ᑲᓄᐧᐋᐸᐦᑕᐧᑳᐤ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᒉᐧᐃᓂᔫ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᒉ ᒌ ᐄᔑ ᒥᔪᐸᔨᔭᒡ᙮ ᐆ ᐧᐋ ᐄᔑ ᐱᐦᑯᐦᑖᑲᓅᑦ ᐁᑳ ᒉ ᒌ ᐧᐃᓂᒋᓯᐧᑖᐤ ᐊᐧᐁᓂᒌ ᑖᓐ ᐁ ᐄᔑ ᐱᐦᑯᔅᒉᔨᐦᑕᑯᐦᒡ ᐄᔨᔫ/ᐄᓅ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒪᒉᐧᐃᓐ, ᐊᓂᑦᐦ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐁᑎᑑ ᒉ ᒌ ᒥᔪᓈᑯᓂᔨᒡ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᓃᔥᑖᒥᐦᒡ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒧᐧᐋᑲᓂᒡ ᑲᔦᐦ ᐅᑎᐦᑖᐧᐃᓂᐧᐋᐤᐦ᙮

    ᐁ ᔖᐳᔥᑲᐦᒃ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᒉᐧᐃᓐ ᓂᓈᐦᑰ ᐄᔑ ᑎᐱᓀᐸᔨᐦᑖᑲᓅ᙮

    • ᑖᓂᐦᐋᐤ ᐁ ᐃᔅᐸᔨᐦᐄᑯᐧᑖᐤ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒧᐧᐋᑲᓂᒡ ᐁ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᓱᐧᑖᐤ᙮
    • ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐋ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒧᐧᐋᑲᓂᒡ ᓂᔥᑯᔥᑕᒧᒡ ᑲᔦᐦ ᒋᐦᒋᐧᐁ ᒉ ᒌ ᐃᑌᔨᐦᑕᒥᐦᐄᑯᐧᑖᐤ᙮
    • ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐋ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒧᐧᐋᑲᓂᒡ ᒥᔮᑲᓄᐧᐃᒡ ᓂᓈᐦᑰ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐᐦ ᒉ ᒌ ᐁᑎ ᐃᔥᑯᐸᔨᐧᑖᐤ ᐧᐄ ᒋᔥᑯᑕᒫᓱᐧᑖᐤ᙮

    ᓂᒌ ᒫᒨᑎᐱᓯᓂᐦᐄᒉᓈᓐ ᑲᔦᐦ ᓂᓈᐦᑰ ᑎᐹᒋᒧᐧᐃᓐᐦ ᓂᒌ ᐆᐦᑎᓀᓈᓐ ᐆᑦᐦ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐄᔨᔫ/ᐄᓅ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᒉᐧᐃᓂᐦᒡ ᐊᓂᑦᐦ ᐁ ᐅᐦᒋ ᓂᔥᐧᑫᐅᔥᐧᑖᔮᒡ ᑲᐧᑫᒋᔅᒉᒧᐧᐃᓐᐦ ᐊᓐ ᐊᔅᒌᐅᒋᐦᑖᓲᓐ 2016-2017.

  • Thème stratégique #1

    Educational Success


    Chaque école, département et membre du personnel voit son rôle dans l’éducation des Cris dans l’optique de la réussite éducative. Ce thème stratégique est un rappel constant de ce qu’est vraiment la Commission scolaire crie : créer un meilleur avenir pour les élèves et leurs communautés.

    La réussite éducative est mesurée de plusieurs façons :

    • Comment les élèves performent-ils d’un point de vue scolaire?
    • Est-ce que tous les élèves sont motivés et impliqués?
    • Est-ce que notre corps étudiant diversifié obtient toutes les ressources et les possibilités dont il a besoin pour réussir?

    Nous avons recueilli des statistiques, des témoignages et des histoires de l’ensemble de la Commission scolaire crie pour répondre à ces questions pour 2016-2017.

Key Initiatives

1.1 Determine the student population, profiles, and needs for 2016-2021. 

1.2 Actively motivate and engage students in their learning.

1.3 Effectively communicate with and receive feedback from students.

1.4 Develop pathways, programs and partnerships that reflect the needs of all students.

1.5 Become an effective, learning-centered organization.

1.6 Ensure healthy, safe, and sustainable facilities.


While test scores and grades are not the only key indicators in measuring educational success, they certainly help us to understand the performance of students from various ages groups, academic pathways, and community backgrounds. Here are some of the ways our schools are working to improve academic performance.

Reading & Writing

Part of the Cree School Board’s role in our communities is to improve literacy in students of all ages. To do this, we must work with individuals at every skill level to maximize their personal success and meet our goals as a group.

Many schools saw success in grouping students based on needs and abilities instead of grade level. This allowed students to receive extra support, while also ensuring that advanced youth have access to materials which interest and challenge them. Luke Mettaweskum School in Nemaska credits this system with a 14% increase in students at or above their reading level (compared 2015-2016).

Improving literacy was a central focus for many schools in the 2016-2017 school year. In Waswanipi, Willie J. Happyjack Memorial School and Rainbow Elementary School decided to prioritize this issue using many tactics, including the Reading Rocker Strategy. This gave their elementary students customized goals and closely monitored their personal progress. Like other schools, they found success in programs that allowed students to benefit from individual attention and skills-based learning.

Technology has also been used to meet literacy goals. This year, elementary students in Oujé-Bougoumou and Chisasibi piloted a new virtual reality program, Niwîchewâka, which brings an adaptive, game-based approach to teaching early Cree language skills. Waapinichikush Elementary School in Chisasibi also trained teachers to use new tools adapted to iPads, while teachers across the school board benefitted from smartboard technology.

Extra Support for Reading and Literacy Skills from Cree School Board Partnerships

Empower™ Reading

Empower™ Reading is a collaboration between the Cree School Board and the Learning Disabilities Research Program (LDRP) at the Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital. First initiated in Chisasibi in November 2014, the program resulted in a significant increase in the reading skills and levels of both the elementary and secondary students. These positive results, together with the research completed by the LDRP, have encouraged us to continue and expand the implementation of Empower™ Reading. Empower™ Reading benefitted 139 students across eight Cree communities in 2016-2017.

Average Grade Level Increase from Empower Reading Programs

ProgramsStudent GroupAverage Grade Level Increase
Reading Decoding and Spelling 2-5
Grade 3
Decoding and Spelling 2-5
Grade 4-6
Decoding and Spelling 6-8
Sec. I-II
Reading Decoding and Spelling 6-8
Reading Vocabulary and Comprehension

Summer Literacy Camps

Summer Literacy Camps are a collaboration between Frontier College and the Cree School Board. The camps provide 5 to 12 year-olds in our nine communities with fun and educational activities during the summer months.

In Summer 2017, our Summer Literacy Camps had…
parental visits
guest speakers

The average camper read 6 books over the summer and spent an average of 53 minutes reading per day.

Once camp is over, the love of reading continues - for the past three summers, over 90% of campers have reported that they enjoy reading. A high majority of parents also agree that their child or children read(s) more after attending the camps.


Improving mathematics scores and building proficiency in mathematics continues to be a focus for all schools. While there is much room for improvement in this area, there was an increase in students meeting Canadian Achievement Test (CAT) standards in both Grade 6 and Sec. III compared to last year (see results by community). Tutoring from Elephant Thoughts and inclass CAT test preparation were provided to secondary school students and work is being done to understand how we can better support them in improving their mathematical skills.

In Mistissini, Voyageur Memorial Elementary School used games to engage students and teach key math skills. Their Mathematics Focus Group organized regular mathematics competitions and fun daily math workouts for the students. These friendly competitions were a hit with students, with winners being posted and celebrated by the school community. Teachers now say that students are rarely seen counting on their fingers and basic math facts have been committed to memory. Unsurprisingly, the school saw improved Computation and Estimation CAT scores. Secondary school students in Mistissini also enjoyed Pieing for Pi day.

Arts & Sciences

Science fairs were a huge highlight across the school board in 2016-2017. Locally, multiple schools saw record numbers of participants - close to 50% of students from Waapihtiiwewan Elementary School in Oujé-Bougoumou were involved, while Waapinichikush Elementary School in Chisasibi had to expand the fair to their gym to handle all the projects! Mistissini students Sayge Cheezo and Yoshtin Blacksmith won first prize at the Regional Science Fair for their solar-powered ski-doo project. The entire community was proud to see them bring home the Environment Award from the Quebec Aboriginal Science Fair in Odanak, Quebec. Successes like these motivate and inspire students across the Cree School Board.

Expanded programming for students interested in the arts was also available to talented students throughout the school board. James Bay Eeyou School turned their detention room into an art room, while secondary students in three schools benefitted from the new Mikw’Chiyam Arts Concentration Program. This pathway for secondary students uses arts education to empower students, improve self-esteem, and collectively break through social barriers. The program has already proven to help students, including one student who went from failing in the previous year to having an academic average of 70% and improving attendance by 14%. Besides teaching valuable social development and academic skills to young Cree artists, the Arts Concentration program also provided students with an opportunity to shine nationally at the First Nations Schools First Symposium in British Columbia. The students presented a variety of performing arts at the event, including singing, dancing, playing the guitar, and rapping for the audience.

Academic Performance Indicators

(See results by community for CAT scores and other Key Performance Indicators by school)

How many students met or exceeded their grade level based on PM Benchmarks in 2016-2017?

What is a PM Benchmark?

PM Benchmarks are designed to assess students’ instructional and independent reading levels using unseen, meaningful texts.

English/French Language Skills

% of students meeting or exceeding PM benchmarks

How many students met or exceeded their grade level based on PM Benchmarks in 2016-2017?

Improving Attendance

Educational Success is only possible if students are in the classroom ready to learn each day. The current absenteeism rate across the Cree School Board is 22.92%, a number we hope to improve through this strategic theme. Our schools prioritized attendance in 2016-2017 by involving the community in their efforts and rewarding students for showing up each day.
Identifying Causes

The first step to improving attendance is identifying the reasons for absenteeism. In Nemaska, a local student survey at Luke Mettaweskum School helped to identify and address contributing factors. Students discussed issues such as increasing safety and improving the feeling of acceptance among students. Recording the reasons for absenteeism or lateness on personal Attendance Record Cards was another tactic used to better understand the source of attendance problems. Collecting this information and opening the lines of communication was an important first step in addressing the issues that truly affect attendance rates.

Community Collaboration

Cree communities continue to play an inspiring role in helping many of our schools improve attendance. Radio listeners in Chisasibi could tune in to hear broadcasted reports on attendance from James Bay Eeyou School, while updates published in the Waaskimaashtaau community newsletter helped locals become engaged with the success of the students. At Waapinichikush School, attendance skyrocketed thanks in part to regular radio communications and the school’s participation in general annual assemblies. Thanks to their communities, both schools had record years for attendance.

Healthy Food & Physical Activity

Healthy food and opportunities for physical activity motivated many of our students to show up for school ready to learn. At Badabin Eeyou school, the Whapmagoostui First Nation Band stepped up to support healthy breakfasts and snacks three days a week. A similar program was offered by Voyageur Memorial High School in Mistissini, where the students also received breakfast three days per week (an increase from two days per week last year). Along with these efforts towards nutrition, physical education became a focus at several schools. Willie J. Happyjack Memorial School in Waswanipi adopted the Physical Education Plus project and increased the number of physical education periods. Through PSE, they offered a diverse range of physical activities in an effort to improve the health and motivation of young people. Other schools also experimented with better access to recreation and physical activity in order to increase attendance.

Attendance Incentives

The Cree School Board recognizes the positive impact of rewarding students for good behaviour. To this end, schools offered awards and appreciation to students with perfect attendance. These students were recognized in school-wide assemblies, in class-wide competitions, and on social media announcements. Some students enjoyed free meals as a reward for attendance. With support from Quebec en Forme, Waapihtiiwewan School in Oujé-Bougoumou was able to offer a weekly luncheon to students in Grade 5 to Secondary 5 with perfect attendance. This was an opportunity to enjoy a meal together as well as a great reward for those who attended class. At Rainbow Elementary School in Waswanipi, groups competed for a pizza lunch. Through these initiatives, students improved their attendance and encouraged their friends to do the same.

MikwChiyâm Program

Supported by the Cree School Board in partnership with the Cree Nation Government Department of Justice and Correctional Services, the goals of the MikwChiyâm Program are to promote student retention, empowerment, accountability, skill development, connection, and celebration. These images showcase some of our students’ artwork using different mediums in the visual arts.

Teaching Cree Knowledge and Traditions

One way the Cree School Board worked to strengthen our communities was through the teaching of Cree traditions. In 2016-2017, our students had an opportunity to learn a number of traditional skills. We continue to prioritize the learning of Cree language in our schools and have embraced new technologies to make these lessons more accessible.

Unique Programs

Schools across the Cree School Board have used their resources to create a learning environment well-grounded in our Cree culture and traditions. Here are some of the many unique ways our schools are exposed students to our history, traditions, values, and language:

  • Students at Badabin Eeyou School in Whapmagoostui continue to have a traditional grandmother on staff. She is a full-time educator who also does special classroom talks about traditions and ceremonies.
  • Grade one students in Oujé-Bougoumou and Chisasibi have piloted Niwîchewâka, a new Cree language project using virtual reality technology.
  • Students at Waapihtiiwewan School in Oujé-Bougoumou enjoyed monthly activities based around our Cree traditional values of sharing, thankfulness, good child rearing, happiness, kinship, love, obedience, hope, patience and respect.
  • More Cree camps and cultural sites are being built on school grounds. These include a combination of teepees, wigwams, picnic tables and traditional goose blinds to help students learn about Cree culture in a more tactile way.

Celebrating Annie Whiskeychan Day

Annie Whiskeychan Day gives each school an opportunity to invite students, parents, and the community to celebrate Cree education. Here are some of the activities schools enjoyed in 2016-2017:

  • In Eastmain, Wabannutao Eeyou School celebrated by participating in community cultural activities including blueberry picking, healing week activities, and bush camp.
  • Our elementary and secondary schools in Waskaganish invited parents for a day of cultural activities including the setting up of special teepees and a feast in the school yard.
  • Waapihtiiwewan School in Oujé-Bougoumou introduced two new games at their festivities, Nail & Hammer and Clothes Line. Students loved the new games and played them many times over!
  • Thanks to Cree culture teachers and community members, many students from across the school board were able to get together and attend the regional event in Wemindji.

Seasonal Activities

While classroom learning is important, Cree students of all ages deeply benefit from hands-on experiences with Cree skills, practices and ceremonies. Many traditional activities are seasonal, so our students have opportunities throughout the year to explore important cultural lessons.

The First Snowshoe Walk is a beloved tradition at many schools, bringing students, parents, and teachers together. Waskaganish students at Annie Whiskeychan Memorial Elementary School loved putting on their traditional costumes for the event, while the walk at James Bay Eeyou School was so successful it attracted media attention from the CBC.

Students also had the opportunity to explore the environment and learn traditional skills through community activities. A highlight for students at Wiinibekuu School in Waskaganish was a trip to Smokey Hill where they caught white fish and enjoyed a traditional meal. In Nemaska, Luke Mettaweskum School participated in workshops as part of their community’s Cultural Week. This included listening to stories from Elders and attending workshops in beading, preparing moose hide, and ice fishing. Students at Voyageur Memorial School in Mistissini celebrated the day when the number of students is officially called in to the Ministry of Education, known as Declaration Day. This event was filled with activities, including traditional cooking and a Walking Out Ceremony for a staff member’s child. Each school and department in the Cree School Board recognizes the importance of these experiences for students and the community alike.

We continue to prioritize the learning of Cree language in our schools

Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention or “RTI” is a set of tools and procedures that will help teachers work with students and each other to improve literacy and meet other learning benchmarks.

Through RTI, teachers review data and student work every two weeks to guide their instruction. Students work with their teachers towards “smart goals.” They are given extra time to meet these personalized learning targets. Teamwork is an important part of RTI, so all schools must undergo training in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) before beginning the RTI process. The overall goal of PLC and RTI strategies is to ensure students have enough time and resources to achieve high levels of learning. As always, student success is our number one goal!

2016-2017 was the second year that RTI consultants were used at our schools in Wemindji, Whapmagoostui, and Oujé-Bougoumou. Data collected from these schools shows that the RTI program has already made great strides in improving literacy levels and building a collaborative learning environment for students.


At Joy Ottereyes Rainbow Memorial School in Wemindji, Grade 4 students saw an average grade level increase of 135% compared to last year with the use of RTI. Grade 4 students at Waapihtiiwewan School in Oujé-Bougoumou saw an average grade level increase of 182%. At Badabin Elementary School in Whapmagoostui, 100% of Secondary 1 students reached their “smart goal” targets by the summative assessment at the end of March.


Teachers have responded strongly to the program. Nearly 100% now report having high or very high commitment to the RTI principle of collective responsibility. This means they believe that all teachers are responsible to ensure high levels of learning. Less than 40% reported a commitment to this principle prior to the program. Collaborative teacher teams have been formed in all six schools and teachers have been given tools and frameworks to help them work together to support student success.
RTI training will be rolled out to all schools by the 2018-19 school year. We look forward to seeing more positive results from this initiative in the future!

Fostering Educational Success in our Schools

There are many initiatives undertaken by schools each year to advance the success of their students. In 2016-2017, the Strategic Action Plan informed the creation and continuation of many programs which helped students reach their full potential.

Response to Intervention (RTI)

The earlier we can identify learning or behavioural challenges in students, the easier it is to set those students up for success. This is the concept behind Response to Intervention or RTI. Four of our schools started or continued implementation of RTI during the 2016-2017 school year, while two others began training.

Extracurricular Activities

Activities such as sports, public speaking, and art shows deepen students’ relationship with the school, with each other, and with their education as a whole. Competitions can also provide an opportunity for multiple communities to come together. This was certainly the case with the Regional Public Speaking Competition hosted in Eastmain by Wabannutao Eeyou School. Administrators, teachers, and the community felt immense pride in the skills shown by our capable student speakers. Waapihtiiwewan School in Oujé-Bougoumou also enjoyed friendly competition when it hosted the Cree School Board basketball tournament. Congratulations to the three division winners – Rainbow Elementary School (Waswanipi), Voyageur Memorial School (Mistissini), and Waapihtiiwewan School (Oujé-Bougoumou) – and to everyone who came out to this fun and active event!

Youth Fusion is a charity organization that provides support to at-risk students through academic support, leadership activities, and extracurriculars. They have impacted many of our schools with their programs, including Waapinichikush School (Chisasibi), Luke Mettaweskum School (Nemaska), and Wiinibekuu School (Waskaganish). Collaborating with teachers and support staff, they coordinated everything from science fairs to speaking contests to career fairs. These events and activities, along with the support from Youth Fusion leaders, gave students even more reasons to be excited about coming to school.


Continuing Educational Success After Secondary School

Pathways like the MikwChiyâm Arts Concentration Program and the Hockey Concentration Program allow secondary school students to focus on their chosen skills and prepare for diverse career paths. Voyageur Memorial High School in Mistissini was delighted to offer an entrepreneurship option for Secondary 5 students. The Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program was made possible through the Martin Family Initiative. The program was inspirational and highly educational for our students, who were mentored by local business leaders and visited by program founder and former Prime Minister Paul Martin. “The first time I entered this program, I was really happy to learn new things,” one student told local news reporters. “I always wanted to start up my own business here in Mistissini.”

The Cree School Board is committed to providing resources for students of all interests and talents to prepare them for higher learning and the workforce. At Waapihtiiwewan School in Oujé-Bougoumou, the implementation of Learn Quebec made it possible to offer one of our Secondary 5 students the opportunity to take some advanced science and mathematics courses. This allowed the student to take the prerequisite courses necessary to be accepted into the college program of his choice. This student and all others on their way to college have the continued support of our Post-Secondary Student Services. This ensures their educational success continues into their next chapter (you can learn more about these resources here).


As our friends at the Waskaganish schools say, “Learn Now, Build a Nation.” Through a focus on Educational Success, we are able to empower students and our communities alike. We will continue to work to offer quality instruction and culturally relevant learning experiences in an environment that fosters student achievement and well-being.