RCM & Alberta Gov't Team Up in Arts Education Initiative

For immediate release: June 22, 2010


Program funding focused on boosting high school completion rates for aboriginal students

Fort McMurray – The Royal Conservatory is pleased to announce a three-year, $1.3 million grant from Alberta Justice, provided through its Safe Communities Innovation Fund. The grant will be used to implement arts-based programming aimed at boosting the high school completion rates and life skills of aboriginal youth in the Fort McMurray area. The project will be undertaken by the Conservatory’s pioneering integrative arts program Learning Through the Arts (LTTA).

“We are grateful for this generous funding from the government of Alberta,” said Angela Elster, Vice President, Academic of the Conservatory. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Fort McMurray and other northern Alberta communities to collaborate in creating outstanding opportunities for aboriginal youth to develop their full potential through music and the arts. The Conservatory has developed educational and social programs reflecting the learning traditions of First Nations peoples for nearly a decade. We are honoured to work with our many colleagues, friends, and partners in Fort McMurray, Fort McKay, and other northern Alberta communities to help make their vision for the future of youth and strong resilient communities a reality.”

The project will provide support to public school teachers in Fort McMurray and several additional communities in the region to adjust their teaching practice to align better with aboriginal learning traditions in which knowledge is acquired through storytelling, drawing, and dance. Additionally, the project will include arts-based after school programming that will provide a safe and supportive community for out of town students, enhance literacy and life skills, and keep youth engaged and out of trouble after school. The third component is a Grade 9 program to enhance understanding of, and respect for, aboriginal culture among non-aboriginal youth in the Fort McMurray Catholic Board of Education. The Academic Research Division of The Royal Conservatory will conduct a detailed assessment of all three programs in order to measure their impact on participants and the wider community.

These programs are further supported by TELUS, LTTA’s National Technology Sponsor since 2005, and the Suncor Energy Foundation, its Lead Aboriginal Partner since 2007. These organizations continue to help LTTA connect youth in Fort McMurray and across the country with innovative programs that make a difference in their lives.