Aboriginal students make up 26% of the population in School District 57, and last year the provincial government put over $4 million into the District for Aboriginal Education.
The Aboriginal Education Committee is working on a new policy for communicating and consulting with the Aboriginal Education Department of School District 57.
The School Board rescinded the current policy that formed the Aboriginal Education Board at Tuesday’s regular public meeting.
The Aboriginal Education Board that was formed in 2011 was dissolved in 2014 after it was decided that it was not an effective model for consultation with the Aboriginal Department and First Nation communities.
In 2016, the Board formed the Aboriginal Education Committee. It was approved by the Ministry of Education and consists of representatives from Lheidli T’enneh, McLeod Lake Indian Band, the Metis Community Association, elders and parents.
While the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council is not apart of the Committee, Tribal Chief Terry Teegee says there is no representation for Aboriginal students in the District right now. “In particular for our Carrier Sekani First Nations Community and our membership, I think there has to be adequate–really input and development of curriculum that is culturally appropriate as well as knowledge that the resources that are there for our children to be successful students gets to them. That’s what our job used to be as the original Ab-Ed Board, really what we are looking for is a reinstatement of the Ab-Ed Board, as well as full input in development of curriculum and making sure the resources are getting to our children to become successful students.”
According to the School Board, there has already been some significant improvements in the Aboriginal student graduation rate. In the past 5 years, the rate went from 30% up to 62% last year. The sooner a new policy is put in place, the sooner the Committee can work on getting that number up even higher.
“A new policy will be drafted based on the feedback we received, ” says the Chair of the School Board, Tim Bennett. “It will come forward to the board before the end of the year and it will go out for another 60 day consultation to provide feedback on a new Committee.”