Indigenous Excellence

Bill Simard

February 2011

Bill Simard Photo

  • Home Community:

    Manigotagan, MB.

  • Cultural Identity:

  • Current Position:
    Adult Education Instructor for Workplace Education Manitoba
  • Education/Training:

    Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)

    Certificate in Adult Education

    Life Skills Training Certificate

  • Roles/Responsibilty:
    Currently working with Workplace Education Manitoba to assist  learners in entering either a re-training program or
    a new job.
“Individuals no matter what their station, beliefs, culture, or religion must be accepted and respected.”

I grew up in the small community of Manigotagan, located on the beautiful south east shores of Lake Winnipeg. I lived there until I was about fifteen years old. It was an isolated community until the roads to the outside world were built in about 1958-60. Until that time, for transportation, we used motor boats on the Manigotagan River in summer, and dog teams or horses for winter.

In 1964, The Department of Education closed our schools down and we went to residential school in Cranberry Portage.  I finished my high school there. I proceeded directly to the University of Manitoba where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. My first job was with Red River College where I taught all subject areas in their upgrading and Adult Grade 12 programs.

My entire teaching career has been in Adult Education. In the last 10-15 years an extremely high percentage of those learners have been Aboriginal. I consider it an honour and a privilege to be blessed with my involvement in some of their success stories.. I have witnessed those Aboriginal Adult Learners become Social Workers, Teachers, and Technologists.

When adults return to a classroom to complete their education and pursue a career, not only are they serious but also apprehensive. The education system in the past has not been a successful one for them. My job as their teacher is to be aware of those past negative educational experiences and turn this new experience into something positive and meaningful.

The first and most important objective is to help them understand that everyone can learn new things. Making them actually believe it on a personal level is the ultimate test for a true teacher. I believe that this is one of the most important answers to student retention problems.

Personally  I have found that not only the Aboriginal Teachings, although it is an integral part, but on a universal level the only answer is “Respect”. Every person and everything needs to be respected to grow and flourish. Individuals no matter what their station, beliefs, culture, or religion must be accepted and respected. The older I get, the more respectful I become because I see all the positive benefits it brings me -especially, but not exclusively to new learners in our classroom. To gain respect you must give respect! That to me, is the true foundation of a successful relationship between student and teacher.

“ Life is a series of learning experiences. Those learning experiences are deeply entrenched in your interactions with the people around you. If you use  “Respect” in an honest and open manner there will be no greater fulfilling or rewarding learning experience in your lifetime.”