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Dan Ward

October 2023

Dan Ward photo

  • Home Community:
    Selkirk, Manitoba
    Band Member of Sagkeeng First Nation
  • Cultural Identity:
  • Current Position:
    Superintendent of Schools – Garden Valley School Division
  • Education/Training:
    Master of Education, Bachelor of Education
“I experienced many setbacks and made mistakes on my journey, which helped me better deal with adversity.”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
When I graduated university, there were very few teaching jobs available in Manitoba. I was offered a position overseas and was in the midst of planning my travels when I got a call from Frontier School Division offering me a position to teach middle school in a First Nations community. I accepted and started my career teaching Grade 7 and 8 which was very rewarding.

Working in an Ojibwe community provided me with an opportunity to learn more about my cultural roots. My family on my mother’s side regained their status through Bill C-31 after 1985. Although my grandparents spoke Ojibwe (Saulteaux) fluently, the language was never passed on to their children. My knowledge of our ancestry was limited, apart from stories and anecdotes from my aunt, the family genealogist, and the occasional childhood visit to my grandfather who spent his final days living in Sagkeeng.

Over the years, I have made attempts to close some of those gaps in my knowledge, learning from Elders, Knowledge Keepers and community members. I have taken advantage of many opportunities as an educator to learn alongside those that have guided me in attaining a deeper understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
Both of my parents impressed upon me and my three siblings the importance of education from an early age. My father was a university researcher during his career. This is one of the reasons why I have always placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of critical thinking, which is an essential part of being an educator.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
Being open to opportunity helped me get to where I am today, even if it meant going outside of my comfort zone.

Message of Encouragement:
I would encourage anyone pursuing a goal to not get overly discouraged when faced with failure. I experienced many setbacks and made mistakes on my journey, which helped me better deal with adversity.