The principal of Indigenous Education for the Campbell River School District presented the proposed Indigenous Education Board Governance Policy to the Board of Education April 17.
“It is a policy that explicitly states that district schools and all its employees will work towards ensuring that First Nations, Métis and Inuit students will have the same level of access, success and opportunity to achieve for life and career goals that all our district students do,” Greg Johnson said.
In what both trustee Richard Franklin and Johnson proclaim to be precedent setting in the province of B.C., the policy begins by stating that the board of education recognizes that it operates on the traditional territory of the We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, Kwaikah, Klahoose and K’omoks First Nation and honours its relationship with these nations as well as the Homalco First Nation and all other First Nations, Métis and Inuit people who reside in the area where the district operates.
“Perhaps most importantly, most forward thinking and precedent setting provincially is that our policy’s final paragraph sets out a distinct and direct map towards reconciliation which the board mandates,” Johnson said.
The policy was assembled by the Indigenous Education Advisory council.
Together, representatives from the First Nations communities in the district as well as Johnson and trustee Franklin, worked towards the goal of achieving success for the 1,200 Indigenous students and their families in the school district.
Johnson said that the policy demonstrates the district’s commitment to respecting First Nations students, families and the territory in which the district operates.
The policy also recognizes the fundamental role that Indigenous people’s language, culture, history and heritage play in their success as students and outlines that those key factors be actively included in all curriculum and be honestly taught throughout the district.
Johnson finished his presentation with a quote from Justice Marie Sinclair: “It is precisely because education was a primary tool of oppression of aboriginal people… that we have concluded that education holds the key to reconciliation.”
The school board will vote on whether or not to adopt the policy at their next meeting on May 8.