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Corey Demarchuk

January 2024

Corey Demarchuk photo

  • Home Community:
    Fraserwood, Manitoba
    Member of the Métis Federation: Interlake Region
  • Cultural Identity:
  • Current Position:
    Industrial Arts/Culture Credit Teacher
  • Education/Training:
    Bachelor of Education; University of Winnipeg

    Diploma of Industrial Arts; Red River College

    Post Baccalaureate Degree, Indigenous Knowledge, and At-Risk Education; University of Winnipeg.
  • Roles/Responsibilities:
    My primarily role is an industrial arts teacher teaching Electronics, Drafting, and Graphic Arts. I have worked towards growing my role and involvement in Indigenous perspectives and our cultural credit program. This program provides culturally relevant programing and learning experiences for Indigenous students and gives them opportunity to learn and connect with elders, knowledge keepers and seekers, and to experience their culture through many different experiences and opportunities.
    I have had the privilege of growing up in a rural area where I learned at a young age the lessons the land can teach you. My goal has been to offer those lessons to my students and students of our division through elements of hunting, fishing, foraging, and being on the land.
    A few of the cultural days I have led are an Ice fishing day, a two-day fishing trip to Manigotagan river system for spring harvest, fishing, and learning and connecting with elders.
    My most recent contribution to Cultural credit has been harvesting a deer and bringing it to our cultural center to show the whole process of the harvest and to talk about everything that comes before and after the harvest and why it is so important to respect the whole process.
“Look at the cup as half full. Be positive, optimistic and block out the negative influences.”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Growing up in a rural area, like so many others, I did not know much about my culture, and it wasn’t something we talked about. It wasn’t until I began my educational journey to become a teacher that I started learning about the history of our country and my history as a Metis Man. I learned things that were common in our culture that I recognized in our family and our traditions and started to understand a bit more of our history. This has sparked an appreciation and drive to learn as much as I can and to appreciate and value my connection to the land and our history.

I have also worked in communities that do not support or prioritize the types of learning that is so important to have access to like land-based learning and a connection to culture and history. It is very difficult to watch students not have a connection to four brick walls and to hear repeatedly that it is their fault, or if only they tried harder. So many of our schools are fixated on a conventional industrialized conveyor belt style of learning systems. The 5 block period, production line of Math, English, and core subjects that will get you to university. This is not an effective system for so many. I am very grateful to work in a school division that prioritizes culture, community, and a diverse range of understanding of what education is and needs to be. We have an amazing community of diversity and I truly believe that our strategies and learning opportunities need to match that diversity.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
When I left high school no one that knew me would have ever guessed I would become a passionate teacher, including me. I worked in trades for a few years and did well but was missing a connection and passion I was looking for. I had a few friends and family that were teachers and would tell me about their experiences and I was always fascinated and inspired by their stories. After a conversation with one of them about my plans to explore that avenue, they encouraged me and invited me to come spend a day in their class to see what I thought. It was a kindergarten class and I was exhausted at the end of the day but was convinced. I decided to make the jump and change my career. That is where my learning really started.

In my first full time position as an Industrial Arts teacher, I worked with an Indigenous teacher who I still consider a mentor. She took me under her wing and pushed me and inspired me to learn more about my Metis culture. Together we started a cultural club with the aim of teaching Indigenous perspectives through fishing and land-based learning. Through that spark we were able to develop a program that ended with a 4-day fishing trip to Manigotagan to learn off the land with elders. We still run this program today and try to coordinate different land-based learning experiences at our respective schools.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
I think there was two pivotal decisions that led me to where I am now and has given me the opportunity to be a part of Indigenous education on the level I am today. The first was to end my career in trades and to make the leap of faith to follow my passion to become a teacher. It was a decision that came with a lot of uncertainty, fear of failure and putting a lot of things I had already established on hold to follow that path. It was the best decision I have ever made.

The second was to move on from a teaching position where I felt I was not able to implement the connections to Indigenous culture to the same level at Seven Oaks School division has granted me.

Although there are many things I learned from the different teaching positions I have had, Seven Oaks prioritizes Indigenous perspectives and culture. Coming to Seven Oaks school division at this point in my career has felt like a homecoming full of opportunity and abundant support. Throughout my career I have felt a paradigm shift or forced evolution of the education system through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and since COVID-19. Having said that, there are still systems fixated on the conventional assembly line of educational values that are becoming increasingly ineffective for so many students. My current position has been so inspiring and has surrounded me with like-minded people that see the value and the effectiveness of Cultural and Land-based learning.

Message of Encouragement:
It doesn’t matter what your journey looks like or if it is the way you planned, life has a funny way of taking you into directions that you did not expect, but instead into directions that you need. Do not compare yourself to others, it is your life, write your own story. Let life guide you with opportunities and recognize when someone is a good influence on you, keep those people close. Recognize when good opportunity present itself and to never turn it down. People all around you have something they can teach you, never think you cannot learn from the people around you. Take the positive and the optimistic and block out the negative influences. Work hard and find passion to thrive for. Live the Good life.