Eddie Aronhi:nens Cross’s tremendous contributions to McGill University and to Indigenous education span decades. Eddie Cross’s career in education began in 1966 as a teacher in Kahnawà:ke. Over the years, Eddie served his community and Indigenous education as a guidance counsellor, curriculum coordinator, principal and subsequently as Director of Instructional Services and Director of Education for the Kahnawà:ke Education Centre. His contributions are remarkable, changing the landscape of education in Kahnawà:ke, at McGill University, and across Canada.
Eddie was instrumental and steadfast in his advocacy for equitable funding for First Nations students with special needs. Along with other First Nations education representatives, Eddie’s advocacy led to secure government funding for special needs students in First Nations schools across Canada. His tireless work and passion for the Kanien’kéha language, helped to establish the Kanien’kéha language and immersion programs in Kahnawà:ke schools. His collaboration with Kateri Memorial Hospital in the implementation of the Kahnawà:ke School Diabetes program is well regarded throughout Canada.
However, it is his vision, leadership and partnership with the Office of First Nations and Inuit Education in advancing Indigenous teacher education that will be most remembered at McGill. As Director of Instructional Services and, subsequently, Director of Education, Eddie was critical for developing OFNIE’s teacher education and language and literacies programs.
Under Eddie’s leadership, OFNIE offered its first Aboriginal Literacy Certificate in Kahnawà:ke, a program that would eventually develop into Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center’s Ratiwennahni:rats Language Program. It was due to Eddie’s focused-driven work on the ground that the Office of First Nations and Inuit Education was also able to deliver its Certificate in education for First Nations and Inuit, its flagship program.
Thanks to Eddie’s leadership and trailblazing work, several cohorts of Kanien’kehá:ka teachers have graduate from the Faculty of Education with teaching degrees. These graduates now fill the staff rooms and classrooms of Kahnawà:ke elementary schools. Eddie’s contributions to education have been far reaching, but his specific contributions to McGill’s in-community teacher education programs and program delivery have been foundational to the work of OFNIE. His leadership, his vision, and his ability to get work done has forever changed OFNIE for the better. He will be missed.