The Fourth R Team congratulates Canada's first Indigenous Student Trustee
Thursday, October 5, 2017
The Fourth R Team at the Centre for School Mental Health congratulates Tehatsistahawi (Tsista) Kennedy, following his recent appointment as Canada’s first Indigenous Student Trustee. Kennedy is a grade 11 student at Saunders Secondary School within Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB).
Tsista’s connection to The Fourth R: Uniting Our Nations program began with his enrollment in the Peer Mentoring Program for Indigenous Youth in his grade 10 year at Saunders. The nature of the program is to connect students with similar interests and backgrounds. The program allows student pairs to meet weekly with a primary goal of developing a positive relationship in a culturally safe and relevant environment.
In addition, Tsista was accepted onto the FNMI Student Leadership Council for the 2016-2017 year. Student Leadership Council gives Indigenous secondary-school aged youth the opportunity to have a voice when addressing issues within their school and school board. The Council is proven effective with its team-building strategies, group projects, and safe environments to share ideas.
Tsista is described by facilitator Mike Cywink, Student Mentor and Program Liaison for The Fourth R, Uniting Our Nations program, as a strong voice and demonstrator of effective leadership during his time on the council. “Tsista has a very strong connection to his culture which shines through when he speaks or discusses anything related to schooling. He has a strong understanding of the balance needed for Indigenous youth to be successful while on their educational journey. The balance of staying true to yourself and your culture, while navigating the school system is something that Tsista is currently working through himself. And that is exactly the kind of leader the First Nation youth need to help make things better for themselves and the next generation of Indigenous youth coming through,” said Mike when asked about Kennedy. Mike has worked closely with Tsista through various initiatives and projects within TVDSB over the past year, including the Peer Mentoring Program and Student Leadership Council.
Tehatsistahawai translates to He Carries Fire in English which is fitting for a spirit as strong as Tsista’s. The name has a very powerful meaning in the Indigenous culture as our fire keepers carry very important responsibilities and are relied upon by the people.
Student Trustees are non-voting members of the Board who express views, ideas and concerns on behalf of their peers to help the Board develop policies and make informed decisions. They also act as co-chairs on the Student Advisory Council, a committee that meets with students throughout the school year to provide updates from the Board and provide opportunities to offer input on various topics (Courtesy of http://www.tvdsb.ca/news.cfm?story=15983)