A school in Melbourne is helping kids bridge two worlds. Is it working?

This is part 2 of my project, funded by the Gordon Sinclair Foundation Roving Reporter Bursary, on Indigenous education. This story looked at how a school in Melbourne, Australia is helping Indigenous students transition into schools in the city centre. It was published in the Toronto Star and the Daily Gleaner. 

Katrina Clarke | Feb. 23, 2019 | Special to the Toronto Star

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MITS student Jodie Palipuminni listens to a presentation during a class trip to Government House in Victoria. Photo by Katrina Clarke.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—In a bright classroom in a ritzy Melbourne neighbourhood, a school staffer is asking 20 Indigenous Australian students what they’ll do if — and when — they face racism.

“What happens if someone calls you black?” asks Michelle Kerrin, who herself is Indigenous.

One student shouts they’d tell the teacher. One makes a smacking gesture, as though they’d slap the person, prompting laughter. One pipes up: but we are black.

“Yeah. You should be proud if someone calls you that,” Kerrin says to the last student. The room falls silent. “Don’t let anyone bring you down for that.”

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2 Innu communities are looking to culture, tradition and language for students’ success

This is part 1 of a project on Indigenous education funded by the Gordon Sinclair Foundation Roving Reporter Bursary. This story looked at how an Innu-run school board in Labrador and two Innu communities are working to keep youths connected to land, language and culture, weaving those lessons into curriculum and teaching students through expeditions on the land. It was published in CBC, the Toronto Star and the Daily Gleaner. 

Katrina Clarke | Special to CBC News 

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Elaine Rich is a Grade 2 student at Mushuau Innu Natuashish School. (Katrina Clarke)

NATUASHISH, LABRADOR: Around 20 kilometres into a remote part of the Labradorian interior blanketed by semi-frozen marshland, a dozen Innu women and teens are charging through thick brush in the dark, nearing the end of a 12-plus-hour trek.

Just then, walk leader Nympha Byrne makes a misstep. She sinks into icy marsh waters up to her waist. Chenille Rich, 16, the only other walker within eyeshot, jumps into action and pulls Byrne out.

She tugs off her boots, peels off her socks and starts a fire.

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‘It’s hush-hush quiet and nobody’s supposed to know’

Katrina Clarke | Oct. 5, 2018 | The Daily Gleaner

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Fredericton parent Gina Merrill. Photo: Katrina Clarke/Daily Gleaner

A Fredericton parent is fuming after learning school districts spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars each year on secret teacher probes.

“It’s disgusting,” said Gina Merrill, who filed a complaint against her daughter’s Grade 5 teacher in 2012. “It’s hush-hush quiet and nobody’s supposed to know. Why don’t they make this public?”

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$813,043: The high price of N.B.’s secret investigations

Katrina Clarke | Oct. 3, 2018 | The Daily Gleaner

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Photo: Wire.

New Brunswick’s school districts spent more than $800,000 investigating teachers accused of misconduct or abuse of students in 2016 and 2017, data shows.

According to figures obtained by the Daily Gleaner, five school districts spent $813,043 on supply teachers filling in for teachers placed on leave pending the outcomes of Policy 701 investigations, and on investigators hired to look into 25 complaints between Jan. 1, 2016 and Nov. 1, 2017.

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‘It’s good to come back here and heal together’

Katrina Clarke | Aug. 25, 2018 | The Daily Gleaner

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Const. Mitch Fox hugs Brookside resident Melinda Hachey. Photo: Katrina Clarke/Daily Gleaner

Applause broke out at a Brookside Drive courtyard Saturday as three Fredericton police officers who were among the first on scene at the deadly shootings there two weeks ago returned – this time, for a barbecue.

The officers – Sgt. Jason Forward, Const. Mitch Fox and Const. Jeff Cameron – stood still and tall, holding tight smiles as applause rippled through the crowd of more than 100 people, some tearing up at the sight of the trio. The last time the three were at 237 Brookside Dr. was the morning of Friday, Aug. 10, when a gunman killed two civilians and two of their fellow officers, they said.

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Fredericton Strong

Katrina Clarke | Aug. 18, 2018 | The Daily Gleaner

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Police surrounded the Brookside Drive apartment building where the August shooting took place. Four people were killed that day. Photo: Adam Bowie/Daily Gleaner

Fredericton is still Fredericton.

Eight days ago, gunshots sliced the city into “before” and “after”. It was a flashbulb moment – an incident so shocking and violent residents will forever remember where they were when their neighbourhood was put on lockdown. Or where they were when they heard the gunshots. Or where they were when they waited for an “I’m OK” text from a loved one.

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Teachers need regulatory body: Advocate

Katrina Clarke | Aug. 6, 2018 | The Daily Gleaner

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New Brunswick’s Child and Youth Advocate, Norm Bosse. Photo: BNI archives. 

New Brunswick’s child and youth advocate is calling on the province and the teachers’ union to form a self-regulating body to handle teacher discipline.

Norm Bossé is speaking out amid an ongoing Daily Gleaner investigation into how school districts and the province handle investigations into teacher misconduct. Most details – including the seriousness of the complaint and the identity of the teachers investigated – remains secret due to privacy legislation, according to the school bodies.

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Secrets surround revoked teachers’ certificates

Katrina Clarke | Aug. 1, 2018 | The Daily Gleaner

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The New Brunswick government revoked at least 11 teaching certificates over the last five and a half years.

But it won’t say why or share names – a move a transparency advocate calls “absurd.”

The Daily Gleaner asked the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for a breakdown of how many teacher certificates it revoked since January 2013, what the teacher did, if the teacher’s action had to do with misconduct or abuse, in which district the teacher was employed and when the certificate was revoked.

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Teacher shuffling shocked mom of bullied N.B. teen

Katrina Clarke | July 29, 2018 | The Daily Gleaner

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Gina Merrill. Photo: Katrina Clarke/The Daily Gleaner

Six years after a teacher bullied her daughter, a Fredericton mother says she’s “disgusted” to know teachers are still secretly shuffled to other schools after districts decide they’ve committed misconduct.

Gina Merrill spoke out in 2012 after filing a complaint against her daughter’s Grade 5 teacher – who she says bullied her daughter, Karley, to the point she wouldn’t go to school – which prompted an investigation by her school district and resulted in a “founded” outcome for misconduct. When the teacher disappeared from school, Merrill thought she’d been fired or moved to an out-of-classroom position, she said.

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N.B. mom’s ashes stolen: ‘Pretty devastating, honestly’

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Emmaline, right, with her mom, Barbara. Photo: Emmaline Trail

Emmaline Trail keeps her mom’s ashes in a small gold and pearl-coloured urn, tucked inside a black box, always somewhere safe.

But now, that box, urn and her mom’s ashes are gone.

On Tuesday morning, Trail, 24, woke up to repeated phone calls from her landlord, telling her someone had broken into her car, she said.

To read more, click HERE.

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