Expanding the Circle of Courage at M.E. LaZerte High School

M.E. LaZerte High School in Edmonton, Alberta is an educational hub for nearly 9,000 students from 15 elementary and junior high schools.

The student population represents over 80 cultural backgrounds and 70 languages, with many students identifying as First Nation, Métis, or Inuit, emphasizing the rich diversity that shapes the school’s community.

A key program at the school is led by Veronica Graff, or Kookum (“Grandmother”) Veronica, the dedicated Indigenous liaison at M.E. LaZerte. Since 2012, her Circle of Courage room has been a nurturing space for Indigenous students and others seeking connections and support.

Thanks to a grant from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF), the school is able to extend Kookum Veronica’s support beyond the high school to encompass students at its feeder schools. Collaborating with Circle of Courage Leadership students, Kookum Veronica will lead a variety of workshops, including Blanket Exercises, Indigenous Culture Awareness, Art Projects, Tipi Teachings, Storytelling, and Land Acknowledgments. The funding will cover all workshop materials, books, transportation for students to participate in Circle of Courage room activities, as well as tobacco offerings and gift cards for Knowledge Keepers and Indigenous Leadership students.

Educators play a key role in healing and reconciliation for communities and families and thanks to the Kookum Veronica program, M.E. La Zerte High School will be able to educate multiple generations, fostering a culture of learning, community building, and reconciliation for all staff and students involved.


Archdiocese of Edmonton