The SAGE Program

The SAGE Program

$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Sage is a traditional medicine used to heal the spirit. That is why the SAGE Program at Canmore Collegiate High School (CCHS) is so aptly named. The Stoney Group Adventure Experience is a partnership between CCHS and Outward Bound Canada. Our goal is to improve the high school completion rates of FNMI students who attend our school. High School completion rates for First Nation, Metis and Inuit learners are very low in Alberta and very low at Canmore Collegiate High School. SAGE is a year long intervention program for FNMI high school students. We use the mountains as a classroom to teach resiliency, self confidence and leadership by using Outward Bound Canada as the guides and outfitters for our adventure. We go on three backcountry expeditions throughout the school year to challenge the participants to learn about themselves and discover their potential. We travel in traditional Stoney/Nakoda territory developing a re-connection to the land by travelling through the mountains. We are sent out with Elders blessing and the students form strong relations with each other as they continue to travel together throughout their high school experience.
As a former Outward Bound instructor, I know the power of adventure education. I would guide multi-week expeditions for Aboriginal youth and develop powerful relationships with my students. After the 21 day trip was over, we'd say goodbye as the students would travel back to their homes across the country. With SAGE, we go through the powerful outdoor experience but I stay with them for their high school career, supporting their learning and helping them overcome obstacles that arise over their journey. With elements of adventure education, experiential education, cultural reconnection, mentorship and role modelling, the intent is to develop students who can survive and thrive in their academic careers and personal lives. My time with Outward Bound Canada shaped my educational philosophies and I knew the power of the land. This inspired myself and Julian Norris of Outward Bound Canada to create SAGE at Canmore Collegiate. This is our third year and we've seen improvements in attendance by 14% and increased core subject grades by 8.2% over non-SAGE students, the difference is dramatic. Our high school improvements have improved significantly since our program began in 2008. We've had our high school completion rate for FNMI learners improve by 400%. This year we are expecting our highest graduation rate. We feel SAGE is making a difference.

About You
About You
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Jeff Horvath

About You, Your Group, or Your Organization

Canmore Collegiate High School and Outward Bound Canada


, AB

Please confirm that this project could benefit First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples


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What categories best describe who your group or organization serves (check all that apply)

First Nations people, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

What best describes your group or organization

Elementary or Secondary school.

How long have you, your group, or your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Define your idea / project in 1-2 short sentences

SAGE is an intervention program intended to improve FNMI completion rates by using the mountains as a classroom to teach resiliency and empower them to thrive.

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Established (it has been running for a while, has grown and know it is making a difference)

Social Impact
Please tell us about the social impact of your idea or proect

The students who have taken part in the program have made comments that this has taught them so much about themselves. They have discovered their potential and are inspired to make good choices on their journey. They have the confidence to succeed and feel a sense of pride in who they are. They have transferred the confidence they have learned in the mountains to their academic careers. This program has also been a catalyst for the community of Canmore, Alberta to get involved in First Nations education by providing a tangible project members can volunteer with as well as create awareness.

Your Future Goal(s): Tell us what you hope to achieve with your idea or project in the next year

We would like to continue with our program of getting FNMI youth into the mountains creating passion for life.

In 5 years, what will be different as a result of your idea/project?

We hope to develop leaders within the Stoney Nation that can in turn, inspire youth and work on the overall health of the community. We would also like to share this model with other communities and schools to create a movement of FNMI youth leaders that will help their home communities. This will be the foundation for improving the lives of FNMI people across this nation.

Tell us about the people/ partnerships that are already involved and why they are important to your idea or project.

Julian Norris of Outward Bound Canada has been able to get funding for the last three years of the SAGE program. We have had three fundraisers hosted by the local climbing community called Night of Lies. This has raised enough money to cover extra costs such as transportation. We have had in kind donations from Mountain Exposure, Ambler Hats, Canadian Mountain Holidays and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. Local community members have volunteered their time with some expeditions. People want to get involved with First Nations youth but did not know how until this program was created. They can offer their expertise to help inspire FNMI youth. Also the Rotary Club of Canmore has helped providing another segment of our community to help. SAGE has been a very successful program.

If there are other people/partners that you will reach out to tell us who they are and why they will be important to your idea or project.

To keep the program running we need secure funding. I have had a difficult time in finding committed funding to our program from the corporate or foundation world. The feeling seems to be that public education is provincially funded and that is where the funding should come from. However, giving the realities of funding for public education, there is no extra money for interventions like SAGE. We have been dependent on anonymous donation and private donations from fundraising events such as Night of Lies (mainly local climbers).

Describe the kinds of support you receive (other than money) or will need to support your idea or project (e.g.: donated, space, equipment and volunteers)

Local companies have donated gear needed for outdoor expeditions. Mountain Exposure donated technical jackets and clothing. Local guides have offered to donate their skills to our program. Other people have offered their time to participate in expeditions. It has been a great success.

Do you currently have funding for your idea or project?