Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS), an online secondary school located in Northwestern Ontario, offers a unique classroom environment that cannot be found elsewhere in Canada. KiHS is inspected and approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education to be able to offer credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
KiHS was established in 1999 at the request of Keewaytinook Okimakanak (Northern Chief Tribal Council) to allow individuals to receive a secondary education without having to leave their community. The high school opened in the fall of 2000 with only 36 students from three First Nation communities and a curriculum of grade 9 courses. Since then, the school has grown substantially and currently offers over 70 fully online courses in Grades 9 through 12 in all academic streams. In addition, it has since expanded to serve other First Nation communities, with an average partnership of 13 communities each year. KiHS had its first graduate in 2005. In 2017, there were 17 graduates.
One of the distinctive features of KiHS is the situated learning centres found in each partner community. These learning centres provide on-site learning resources and support for students. Each learning centre has one mentor (i.e., a qualified teacher) who assists students from grades 9 to 12 in all subject areas. In centres with larger enrollment there may be a classroom assistant present to work alongside the teacher. The learning centres are available during regular school hours, with some centres offering additional evening and weekend hours. All are equipped with high-speed Internet access and computers that students can use to work on their courses. Although lessons are delivered online (i.e., asynchronously), Elders and community members are often invited to be involved in face-to-face instruction with students. In addition, each learning centre is supported by a classroom Elder and a school-wide land-based education teacher. Our special education program and First Nation Student Success Program are also available to support students online and in the learning centres.
Another feature that makes KiHS unique is that it is the only online secondary school in Ontario created to serve First Nation communities. In addition, the high school has several language courses in Oji-Cree and Cree, as well as a Native Studies course. Our language lead teacher is dedicated to preserving the languages (i.e., Oji-Cree, Cree, and Ojibway) of our communities and assists teachers in incorporating these languages in the online environment and face-to-face classrooms.
By offering the option to work from the learning centre, at home, or elsewhere, KiHS makes learning more accessible to students living in remote locations.