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Cisco Networking Academy Continues Support of First Nations Education with Awards of Excellence


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Students Recognized for Educational Distinction and Contributions to Community

TORONTO, Canada - July 31, 2008 - Cisco Canada today announced that it has granted Awards of Excellence to 11 students in the technology-oriented First Nations Distance Learning Program. The program was launched in 2005 by Cisco® Networking Academy®, Industry Canada, Human Resource Skills Development Canada, and the Indian and Northern Affairs First Nations SchoolNet Program to support educational opportunities in the First Nations. The Awards of Excellence recipients, nominated by the First Nations SchoolNet Program Regional Management Organizations (RMOs), have completed the Networking Academy Information Technology (IT) Essentials curriculum* and are now either continuing their education, are training to become or have become accredited Networking Academy instructors, or are supporting IT programs in their community. Each recipient will receive $1,000 from Cisco. (See accompanying backgrounder for detailed information on awardees.)
The Cisco First Nations Award of Excellence recipients are:

Sharon Angus - Thunderchild First Nation, Saskatchewan
Aaron Hardy - Fort William First Nation, Ontario
George (J.R.) Isadore - Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia
Tracy Marion - James Smith Cree Nation, Saskatchewan
Angus Miles - Fort Severn First Nation, Ontario
Danny Picard - Huron-Wendat First Nation, Quebec
Michael L. Pictou - Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia
Florian Quitich - Conseil des Atikamekw de Manawan, Quebec
Keenan Shirt - Blue Quills / Saddle Lake First Nation, Alberta
Heather (Heidi) Simon - Elsipogtog (Big Cove) First Nation, New Brunswick
Natasha Stevenson - Piikani First Nation, Alberta

“Our Government supports innovative programs that help First Nations students in remote communities gain access to a good education,” said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians. “The First Nations Distance Learning Program supports quality education by helping First Nations youth acquire computer-related skills and knowledge that are in demand in today’s job market.”

“On behalf of Cisco, I am delighted to be able to recognize these bright young individuals who have taken their future in hand and are working hard to realize their career and personal goals,” said Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada. “We are very proud of the accomplishments of these deserving recipients and of the effective private-public sector partnership we have formed with Indian and Northern Affairs’ First Nations SchoolNet Program and the six Regional Management Organizations. These include the Keewatin Career Development Corporation, who led efforts in making the Distance Learning Program such a success. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship in expanding the educational horizons of, and helping to build opportunities for Canada’s First Nations students.”

A unique program designed to bring IT educational opportunities to remote First Nations communities, the First Nations Distance Learning Program incorporates a number of blended learning methodologies, including in-classroom and online learning via video conference. The program enables First Nations instructors and students to gain the necessary information and communications technology (ICT) skills essential in today’s economy. Over the past three years, the program’s success, largely due to the innovative thinking, ICT expertise, program delivery and management experience provided by the six nonprofit Aboriginal organizations to First Nations, has grown to include 70 current graduates, many of whom are now serving their communities’ connectivity and ICT needs.

“The First Nations Distance Learning Program is having a tremendously positive impact on the future of our youth and our communities. We applaud the First Nations SchoolNet Program and Cisco Canada for their continued support in helping our students attain the necessary technical knowledge and experience that is valuable to the economy and in building community-based capacity,” said Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

The significance of these educational achievement awards is underscored by Resolution 19, ratified on July 16, 2008, at the Association of First Nations Annual General Meeting in Quebec City. The resolution supports the ongoing need for adequate broadband connectivity, help-desk support and integrated ICT training to ensure economic development and opportunities for all First Nations communities. (www.afn.ca)

*The Cisco Networking Academy IT Essentials curriculum is equivalent to Comp TIA’s A+ Certification, a globally recognized PC standard certification.
About Cisco

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco Systems Canada Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Cisco, has offices across Canada dedicated to customer support, sales and service. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com/canada/.
About Indian and Northern Affairs First Nations SchoolNet Program

Adequate “connectivity” is an enabler for distance learning through the use of technologies such as video conferencing. Computers and Internet access are important tools for creating stimulating learning environments. Recognizing the challenges that First Nations schools may face in accessing and applying these technologies, Industry Canada created the First Nations SchoolNet Program, while Indian and Northern Affairs Canada continues to support the delivery of the program.

Six non-profit Aboriginal Regional Management Organizations work with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to deliver the program to First Nations schools. Any First Nations school under the Government of Canada’s jurisdiction is eligible to participate in the program. For more information on the First Nations SchoolNet Program, click on: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/edu/fnsn/index1-eng.asp. For more information on the Keewatin Career Development Corporation, click on: www.kcdc.ca

Notes to editors
Cisco First Nations Awards of Excellence Recipients - July 2008

Sharon Angus - Thunderchild First Nation, Saskatchewan
Sharon completed the Cisco IT Essentials 1 (ITE1) course and went on to become a certified ITE1 and ITE2 Instructor. She began as an Instructor for Keewatin Career Development Corporation (KCDC) in July, 2007 and taught her first ITE1 class last fall. Sharon is currently teaching those same successful students the ITE2 course. Sharon teaches from her home reserve of Thunderchild First Nation (240 km west of Saskatoon) to students in Saskatchewan and Alberta via video conference.

Aaron Hardy - Fort William First Nation, Ontario
Aaron is a certified Cisco IT Essentials (ITE1) and networking CCNA1 instructor. He is currently the Keewaytinook Internet High School classroom assistant and KIHS technician in Fort William First Nation. Aaron teaches the ITE1 course and is committed to expanding and developing online learning opportunities for First Nations.

George (J.R.) Isadore - Membertou First Nation, Membertou, Nova Scotia.
J.R. completed the Cisco IT Essentials ITE1, ITE2 and CCNA1 instructor courses. After receiving his certifications, J.R. was part of the support team that delivered ITE1 training to Atlantic First Nation youth. J.R. has worked at Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk in progressively vital roles since 2001 and is currently the on-site systems analyst.

Tracy Marion - James Smith Cree Nation, Saskatchewan
Tracy completed the Cisco IT Essentials ITE1 course in November 2007 and is currently enrolled in the ITE2 course. Tracy intends to take the CompTIA A+ exams once she has completed ITE2 certification. Tracy attends courses from her home reserve of James Smith Cree Nation (80 kms east of Prince Albert) in Saskatchewan.

Angus Miles - Fort Severn First Nation, Ontario
Angus is a certified Cisco IT Essentials ITE1 and ITE2 instructor in Northern Ontario. He teaches remotely from the Sachigo Lake First Nations community, and previously taught ITE1 from Fort Severn First Nation. Angus utilizes the Northern Indigenous Community Satellite Network (NICSN) to teach his students, a shared satellite bandwidth supporting broadband applications in each of these communities.

Danny Picard - Huron-Wendat First Nation, Quebec
Danny completed the Cisco IT Essentials ITE1 and ITE2 French-immersion courses at Centre de développment de la formation et de la main-d’œuvre (CDFM). He is currently employed as a multi-media technician with the SchoolNet program at First Nations Education Council and is pursuing his Cisco Certified Network Associate certification. Danny is part of the Huron-Wendat community of Wendake, Quebec.

Michael L. Pictou - Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia
Michael is a graduate of the Atlantic’s inaugural First Nation Cisco Certified training course and has completed his second level of Cisco Certification. Michael helped introduce a networking system for Bear River First Nation, successfully launched a technology-based youth mentoring program, and was instrumental in bringing broadband and video conferencing capacity to his community.

Florian Quitich - Conseil des Atikamekw de Manawan, Quebec
Florian completed the Cisco IT Essentials ITE1 and ITE2 French-immersion courses at the Centre de développement de la formation et de la main-d’œuvre (CDFM). He currently works as a computer technician for his community and is pursuing his CCNA certification in networking. Florian is an Algonquin member of the Manawan community located 200km north of Joliette, Quebec.

Keenan Shirt - Blue Quills / Saddle Lake First Nation, Alberta
Keenan completed the Cisco IT Essentials ITE1 and ITE2 courses at Blue Quills First Nation College. Keenan then received his CompTIA A+ certification and was employed by Blue Quills to assist with the College’s network and computer lab maintenance. Keenan is currently preparing to attend Harvard University in the fall.

Heather (Heidi) Simon - Elsipogtog (Big Cove) First Nation, New Brunswick
Heather has completed the instructor courses in Cisco IT Essentials ITE1, ITE2, CCNA1 and CCNA2. She was the lead instructor in delivering ITE1 training to First Nation participants in the Atlantic and a Training Coordinator at Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk. Heather currently works within the Elsipogtog community to raise awareness of technology and video conferencing capabilities and bring broadband connectivity to the region. Heather also holds a B. Ed. Degree.

Natasha Stevenson - Piikani First Nation, Alberta
Natasha has been involved in the program since 2006. Natasha completed the Cisco IT Essentials ITE1 and ITE2 courses and went on to become a certified ITE1 Instructor in December 2007. She is currently completing the ITE2 instructor training.
Indian and Northern Affairs First Nations SchoolNet Regional Management Organizations:

* First Nations Education Steering Committee, British Columbia
http://www.fnesc.bc.ca/about/index.cfm
* Keewatin Career Development Corporation, Saskatchewan
http://www.kcdc.ca/
* Keewatin Tribal Council, Manitoba
http://www.mfns.ca/index.html
* K-NET, Ontario
http://www.knet.ca/knet.html
* First Nations Education Council, Quebec
http://www.cepn-fnec.com
* Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, New Brunswick/Atlantic Region
http://www.kinu.ns.ca/



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