The Mohawk community of Kahnawake and the Mi’gmaq community of Listuguj are embarking on a historic partnership by launching the First Nations Regional Adult Education Centre (FNRAEC), Quebec’s first English-language adult education centre geared toward Aboriginal students.

Opening in September, the FNRAEC will offer quality education while paying tribute to First Nations’ cultural values by including courses in Kanienkeha and Mi’gmaq languages and cultures, as well as other courses pertaining to cultural revitalization.

“We’re going to focus on letting you take the lead and help us determine how we can help you reach your goals,” said Diane Labelle, the director of the Kahnawake campus.

Here, students will have access to support services, such as counselling and mentoring. Staff and teachers will be able to keep better tabs on how each student is doing, due to the smaller classrooms with a maximum of 10 students per class.

“It takes a lot of courage to be able to face large classes, to be in an environment where you are a minority and with people who really don’t know you, so you’re just a number,” said Labelle. “Here it will be very different, we will know you.”

The FNRAEC will also offer night courses in academic upgrading and languages.

The Mi’gmaq community wants the same thing for their students, a place to call their own, with much the same attention given to individual students. “The biggest obstacle this centre will solve for Listuguj is the sense of increased self-esteem and cultural identity within our people, which is the foundation for academic, personal or career advancement,” said Dr. Cathy Martin, the centre’s assistant director.

The Listuguj campus boasts staff member and teachers of Mi’gmaq decent. “This in itself will allow the Listuguj campus to thrive, as it is truly an adult education centre for Mi’gmaq people by Mi’gmaq people,” said Martin.

The grand opening for the Kahnawake campus will be on September 17, and the grand opening of the Listuguj campus will be on October 29.