South Slave Divisional Education Council

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South Slave Divisional Education Council
Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, X0E0P0, Canada
Superintendent Curtis Brown
Funding type Public
Grades K-12
Language English, Chipewyan, South Slavey, French, Cree
Homepage South Slave Divisional Education Council

The South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC) is the organizational entity responsible for the administration of public schools within the South Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Its responsibility includes all schools within the five communities of the South Slave (with the exception of École Boréale in Hay River). Specifically, it is responsible for schools in the communities of Fort Resolution, Fort Smith, K'atl'odeche First Nation, Hay River, and Lutselk'e.[1] Although considered part of the South Slave Region by other departments of the Government of the Northwest Territories, the communities of Fort Providence and Kakisa are served by the Deh Cho Divisional Education Council and not the SSDEC.

Organizational relationships[edit]

The South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC) was created in 1991 alongside five local District Education Authorities (DEAs) in each of the major communities of the South Slave Region. These five DEAs are responsible for setting Council goals and priorities, while the SSDEC is responsible for implementing their decisions within the schools. Both the SSDEC and the five community DEAs are granted power by the Government of the Northwest Territories through the Education Act.[2]


Communities without schools[edit]

While technically within the regional mandate of the SSDEC, the following communities do not host schools for a variety of reasons:

  • Fort Reliance, a partially abandoned community east of Lutselk'e.
  • Enterprise, due to its small population and close proximity to Hay River.
  • The Salt River First Nation, due to its small population and close proximity to Fort Smith.

Leadership for Literacy Initiative[edit]

In an effort to improve literacy outcomes in the region, the SSDEC began implementation of its Leadership for Literacy initiative in 2007. The initiative placed a Literacy Coach in each of the eight schools in the region, providing job-imbedded professional development to teachers and training them on research-based skills and strategies to aid in student achievement. The initiative has also moved away from the summative evaluation of students in favour of more frequent formative evaluations so that "instruction can be tailored to the needs to individual students".[3]

Since its implementation, the initiative has seen literacy scores across the region rise significantly, from "less than 50 per cent"[4] in 2005-2006 to 76 per cent in 2011-2012. The Canadian norm is 77 per cent.[5]

Aboriginal Languages[edit]

The SSDEC is involved with aboriginal-language instruction in each of its five communities. According to a report published by the Government of the Northwest Territories, the SSDEC employs 18 aboriginal-language instructors who supply over 700 students in the region with daily instruction.[6] Specifically, students are instructed in Cree, South Slavey, and / or Chipewyan, depending on where they live. Typically, students from Hay River and K'atl'odeche First Nation are instructed in South Slavey, while students from Fort Resolution and Lutsel K'e are instructed in Chipewyan. Students in Fort Smith receive instruction in both Cree and Chipewyan.

In March 2012, the Council produced, in collaboration with a group of community leaders from Fort Resolution, a Chipewyan-to-English dictionary for the purposes of promoting the learning of the language within the communities of the South Slave region.[7] A digital freeware copy of the dictionary is available online through the SSDEC website.[8]


  • In 2011, the Superintendent of the SSDEC, Dr. Curtis Brown, was named the Canadian Superintendent of the Year by the Canadian Association of School Administrators.[9] The organization specifically praised him for the success the Council has been experiencing in improving literacy rates through the implementation of its Leadership for Literacy initiative.[10]
  • In 2012, Dr. Brown was inducted into the Northwest Territories Education Hall of Fame for his contributions to improving education outcomes in the region.[11]
  • In an August 2012 video, the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston praised the successes of the SSDEC's Leadership for Literacy initiative. He noted literacy rates in the region have greatly increased since its implementation in 2007, and specifically congratulated Lutsel K'e Dene School for their substantial improvements.[12]