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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. on Oct. 31, 2018. Several Vancouver Island mayors and members of British Columbia’s salmon farming industry say a federal decision to phase out fish farming has left them feeling “disposable and discarded.” In a letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, they say they weren’t consulted before she announced a plan to phase out open-net pen fish farming in the Discovery Islands over the next 18 months. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward
Strathcona Regional District pens letter to Trudeau about fish farm closure

Minister Jordan, MLA Babchuk and MP Blaney also included in letter

Telus representative Doug Anastos (top left) and SitePath Consulting Ltd.’s consultant Brian Gregg (top right) present to the SRD board, including CAO David Leitch (bottom left) and Cortes Island director Noba Anderson, on Jan. 13, 2021. Photo courtesy SRD/Youtube
Improved wireless connection for Quadra, Cortes pitched to SRD

Idea includes new towers at various locations on islands

Eva Xu (left) and Joanne Moon (right) presents Campbell River Hospital Foundation executive director Stacey Marsh (centre) with a $1,476 cheque to go towards the new mammography machine at the hospital. Photo supplied by Campbell River Hospital Foundation.
Gourmet Essentials donates nearly $1,500 to Hospital Foundation

Machine will cut wait times for mammogram results

Campbell River celebrates Family Literacy Week Jan. 24 to Jan. 30. Photo contributed
Downtown and city parks scavenger hunts lets you and the kids get out of the house

Campbell River celebrates Family Literacy Week themes of Travel the World and Let’s Be Active

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Island driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

Most Read