Profiles of Aboriginal Educators banner

Donavon Mann

September 2013

Donavon Mann photo

  • Home Community:
    Sagkeeng First Nation
  • Manitoba Cultural Identity: Ojibway
  • Current Position:
    Principal / Director of Education Swan Lake First Nation
  • Education/Training: Graduated from the U of M
    in 1997, Bachelor of Education, Level I school administration, Level II school administration
  • Roles/Responsibilty:
    My role as Administrator at Indian Springs School located on Swan Lake First Nation is to oversee the teachers on implementing and delivering curricular documents. A principal must lead by example. My roles also include leadership, teacher evaluation, developing, implementing and evaluating programs, policies and procedure, setting schedules, hiring new staff, parent and community relations, delegating, extra-curricular involvement, and student discipline and encouragement. Additionally, my role as the Director of Education for Swan Lake First Nation is to monitor both high school and post-secondary students’ attendance and to help address their concerns. As the Director it is a constant challenge to continuously seek effective programs that may benefit the students and community as well as dealing with local transportation to and from schools.

“There is ALWAYS a right time
for everything!”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I grew up within a family of ten; five brothers and five sisters. We lived in Winnipeg on St. Matthews Avenue when I began my school career at Greenway Elementary School. My parents divorced when I was 7 years old. Living with my father, a Journeyman Electrician, required us to relocate communities several times including Fort McMurray and Churchill. I don’t have much of a recollection of my childhood, but I do recall getting a gift from my mother – it was my favourite - a Star Wars record album. When I was 13, I met my mother for the first time, and although we had not met before, her face was very familiar to me. My younger brother and I then moved to St. Vital in Winnipeg with our mom in 1980.  I began Grade 6 at Darwin School, and my brother and I were the only two First Nations kids in the school. We quickly had to defend ourselves from the negativity of others. As the year progressed I became the school bully. This title diminished as I got to Grade 7. I began protecting the little guy from other bullies. When I began playing organized sports in school, I began to realize that “team” is what I wanted to be about. From this point I began coaching Grades 4 – 6 basketball and volleyball teams and I have kept on coaching and playing ever since.

My mother has been a strong moving force for me to become the person I grew to be. She always worked and doled out punishment where she had to. Although loving and caring, she also held the “wooden spoon”, which made my brother and I think before doing anything too crazy!

I married in 1996, and divorced years later. But, from that marriage 3 lovely children were born. Although our marriage ended, the RESPONSIBILITY of our children still became my first priority. We continue working together today as good friends and to provide our children with positive parent role models, which is extremely important for children to have. Afterall, when it comes down to it, our Parents, are our First and Best Teachers!

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
My choice to return to post-secondary education was made later in life. While working for the TD Bank, through the Aboriginal Management Training Initiative, I met a few friends that became educators and ran into an old teacher who had believed in me back then, while others felt I wasn’t going to amount to much. I spoke to her and asked if she would be a recommendation sponsor to the Faculty of Education and she agreed. I ended up working with her in the St. Vital School Division.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
I made the choice to get involved in health / sports and music rather than follow the party crowd. This type of crowd was not for me and I quickly met friends that shared the same interests, although I still talk to a lot of my old “party crowd” friends, we always laugh and joke about our youth.

Message of Encouragement:
There is ALWAYS a right time for everything! It’s up to you to decide when that right time needs to be implemented for you!  “Aim High, just above the front rim!”