Eddie Wolf Child, known traditionally as Apaa’ tsista (Weasel Rabbit) and a teacher at Chief Crowfoot School, in his interview with Indigenous-SME Business Magazine, shared his personal and professional journey. Born in Calgary and raised in Siksika with a strong foundation in traditional values, Eddie was inspired by his mother to value education despite facing challenges in his schooling. Determined to provide a better educational experience for his tribe, he pursued higher education at the University of Lethbridge and the University of Calgary. Today, Eddie is actively involved in his community, organizing events like the Annual Siksika Nation Powwow, and is dedicated to enriching his students’ lives with the importance of education, culture, and personal development.
Oki, My Traditional name is Apaa’ tsista which translates to Weasel Rabbit and my English name is Eddie Wolf Child. I was born in Calgary, Alberta and lived in Siksika most of my life. I am one of the youngest of eight siblings. I have three beautiful girls with my wife Joset Melting Tallow. My parents raised us with traditional values that I still carry today. My mother had instilled the importance of education at a young age. As a young child going to Day School in Siksika, I had had some terrible experiences with some of the teachers. From that time on, I wanted to become a teacher within my tribe and provide my people with a better experience than I had. I want to instill the same importance of education into my students that my mother provided me by encouraging them.
I started my education at the University of Lethbridge. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education in 2013 and 2015. I have recently completed the Masters of Education Degree at the University of Calgary and I will be convocating on November 6, 2023. As a teacher today the students’ personalities and presence motivate me to provide a quality experience for the students. I am a very active person within my community. I organize events such as our Annual Siksika Nation Powwow and take part in many celebrations within North America. I dance competitively throughout numerous powwows and celebrations in my travels. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
How did you first learn about the Classroom Champions program, and how many classrooms and teachers are currently involved in this collaboration?
During the pandemic, Classroom Champions was introduced to me, but it did not have the full effect in my classroom at that time because of it being then just the virtual experience.The addition of Western Canada Outreach Lead, Melissa Tierney, to Classroom Champions definitely enhanced the experience for the teachers last year. She was more visible and explained the idea to the teachers involved. Currently there are three teachers involved and are ready to start this year off.
There’s mention of an athlete mentor being associated with the program. Could you shed light on how this integration works and how the two different fields of curriculum are chosen and applied in your school setting?
Our mentor is long-track Team Canada speed skater, Allison Desmarais. Shefocuses on health, social skills, and mental wellness. This allowed students to relate to her accomplishments through her journey in life. It allowed students to visualize goal setting through her experiences. It demonstrated a strong role model.
The authenticity of the Circle program is notable. Could you elaborate on its essence and how it seamlessly blends with the indigenous culture at Chief Crowfoot School?
Basically our existence on this land is cyclical and our year revolves around the seasons. The Blackfoot word for Sundance is Akokatsin which literally translates to “Circle Camp”. As a person who is highly active in Siksika Ways of Life I am providing our students with the Siksika Identity that was once forbidden within our communities. There are many forms of culture and hese students are receiving a unique educational experience with the knowledge that I am providing to the students.
The support from The Energizing Community Collective has been significant for the institution. How has this funding transformed the educational experience, especially in SEL learning? And in your perspective, how can such funding serve as a beacon of hope for other reserve schools facing financial challenges?
Students are engaged in a unique classroom experience with athletes around the world. It also gives our community the opportunity to be exposed to young aboriginal athletes, like Allison who is of Métis heritage, in Canada and surrounding communities. Last year we had the opportunity of visiting the Calgary Olympic Oval and that experience exposed our students to different sports other than hockey and basketball. Students enjoyed the educational visit.
From your experience with these programs, what transformations have you observed in students, be it in their overall development, confidence, or interpersonal skills? And on a personal note, which aspect of this entire journey has been the most rewarding for you as an educator?
As the program progressed students started to gain an understanding of how to achieve goals after athletes presented their stories. It showed them that anything is possible and reachable. It changed their learning experience in school.