Kahk top students

FNUniv’s Dr. Arzu Sardarli (creator of the math contest) with students whose math contest scores placed in the top 3 of all contest participants. Photo provided by First Nations University of Canada.

In 2008 at Kahkewistahaw First Nation, the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) launched the Wiseman Mathematics Contest, North America’s first math competition for Indigenous students. Today, the competition journeyed full circle as FNUniv presented the Grade 5 class at Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School with one of four Elder Ken Goodwill Memorial Awards.

The awards are given to the schools whose students have achieved the highest scores. The Grade 5 class students share share this special distinction with three other classes in two Ontario schools. The school is also celebrating six individual students who earned the top three scores for each of the three grades.

“It’s very exciting to celebrate this accomplishment with the Kahkewistahaw First Nation community since it’s where the contest got its start,” said Dr. Bob Kayseas, FNUniv Associate Vice-President, Academic in a press release. “It’s certainly rewarding for all of us at FNUniv, and especially for Dr. Arzu Sardarli, who developed the contest and continues to oversee and champion this initiative.”

“Math and English Language Arts are the two most important education subjects a child can learn,” said Evan Taypotat, Principal of Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School. “At our school, we take pride in ensuring that our students are taught these to the best of our ability. It is an honour winning these awards and it gives our school something to build off of for the coming years.”

“Our inherent and Treaty right to education is our priority as educators, parents and leaders,” said Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Vice-Chief Bobby Cameron. “Today signifies that our next generation will ensure that Treaty education will continue to flourish.”

The annual competition was designed to encourage students in First Nations schools to study and learn math in a competitive environment in order to sharpen their math skills. The contest doesn’t have any registration fees, ensuring that all First Nations schools are able to participate.

Since its inception, the contest has grown steadily in profile and participants and, just last year, it expanded to include Grade 6 students for the first time. This year, approximately 800 students from Grades 4, 5 and 6, representing 31 First Nations schools from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario registered in the contest.

The 2014 Wiseman Mathematics Contest – Elder Ken Goodwill Memorial winners are:

  • Ma-tah-ha-mao School (Ontario) – Grade 4
  • Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School (Saskatchewan) – Grade 5
  • Ma-tah-ha-mao School (Ontario) – Grade 6
  • Migisi Sahgaigan School (Ontario) – Grade 6

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