School District 72 is setting up an Indigenous immersion program at Ripple Rock Elementary. Photo, Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River school to get Indigenous immersion program

School district hopes to get 12 to 18 kids for pilot project this fall

School District 72 will be piloting a Liq’wala/Kwak’wala language immersion program for young students at Ripple Rock Elementary this September.

The trustees passed a motion to set up a two-year pilot program at the school at their last board meeting in December.

The move followed a presentation about the program by assistant superintendent Nevenka Fair.

“We all know that language really is the foundation of culture,” she told the board. “We appreciate the board’s support for exploring this. The journey so far has been really exciting.”

RELATED STORY: All Campbell River school district leads the way with indigenous training for staff

The district will now look for Indigenous and non-Indigenous parents to enrol their children in the program, which is to consist of the kindergarten curriculum in both English and Kwak’wala, with a district kindergarten teacher and Kwak’wala language teacher to provide instruction.

It will start with kindergarten in September 2019 and could expand to include both kindergarten and Grade 1 students if there is sufficient interest. At present, the district wants between 12 and 18 students for the program.

RELATED STORY: Indigenous students grad rates on the rise

The idea came about as the result of a district team charged with the task of looking for ways to increase the use of Indigenous language in the school system. The proposal aligns with the district support of the Laichwiltach language revitalization work.

It is also a response to calls for more culturally appropriate curricula following the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as the province’s redesigned curriculum and early learning framework.

“I think this is where we need to be spending our money,” said trustee Daryl Hagen. “I think this fits in perfectly where the federal government has gone. There’s been a lot of talk about reconciliation…. I think it would be very prudent at this time to step up to the plate and say, ‘It’s time. We’re running out of time.’ This would be a very opportune, proactive way of showing that we mean what we say and we do what we say.”

Hagen added that his wish is to get the program running and provide a model for other districts in the province.

To oversee the development of the pilot project, the district team consisted of team of Fair, district principal of Indigenous education Greg Johnson, Curtis Wilson of the Wei Wai Kum, Chief Brian Assu of We Wai Kai, and Laichwiltach language revitalization consultant Dee Cullon.

“About two years ago, we were approached by the We Wai Kai and the Wei Wai Kum First Nations, and they wondered if there was a way that we could work creatively together to look at how we could increase … the amount of language being learned in our schools,” Fair said.

The group’s vision for this program included revitalizing languages as well as building bridges in the community, she said.

The process included open houses at Quinsam, Kwakiutl District Council and Willow Point Lions Hall to allow for people to provide input.

“We made sure that the proposal matches the feedback we received,” she said.

Trustee John Kerr said he and other board members attended an open house, saying there was a lot of support for the idea.

“There were parents who have children in the pre-K program who were really enthusiastic about having their children continue on in Indigenous language immersion kindergarten,” he said.

Just Posted

Island wolf population ‘reasonably secure,’ says researcher

Forestry practices, not predation by wolves, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

PHOTOS: Vancouver Island MusicFest showcases talent from across Canada and around the world

Eclectic line-up ranged from West African to Korean performers, along with rock and blues legends

SLIDESHOW: Hundreds gather for the combination of classic cars and cool aircraft

Campbell River’s annual Wings & Wheels event held at city airport

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Most Read