Kwak'wala speakers

Regional gathering focusses on Aboriginal education

FORT RUPERT—School District 85, First Nations, Ministry of Education, UVic represented at forward-looking event

On Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 the Ministry of Education, First Nations Education Council and School District hosted a regional gathering focused on Aboriginal Education at the U’gwamalis Hall in Tsaxis (Fort Rupert).

The vision for the event was to further define ‘Aboriginal perspectives and worldviews in the classroom’, strategize further ‘engagement opportunities for all learners’ and to ‘explore regional examples of excellence’. With over 100 registered participants representing north island communities, schools and regional agencies “it truly demonstrated the collective strength of our partnerships,” said Kaleb Child, District Principal of First Nations Programs.

Guests came from the First Nations Education Steering Committee in Vancouver, University of Victoria, School District 71 in the Comox Valley, as well as many advocates and representatives from across the north island.

Participants were organized into table groups and tasked to work together towards outlining a ‘way forward’ in the transformation necessary to better meet the needs of all students. Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Scott Benwell, and Kaleb Child, District Principal, co-facilitated the proceedings. One of the many highlights of the day was a presentation by Kwak’wala speaking elders and a traditional dance performance put on by local students from Port Hardy Secondary, Fort Rupert Elementary and the Eke Me Xi Learning Centre. Feedback from many participants was that this is ground breaking work.

This event was the first of five gatherings to be hosted by the Ministry of Education around the province throughout February and March 2015. In addition to raising the profile of the changes coming to the BC curriculum, one of the primary outcomes of these sessions will be to produce a comprehensive teachers guide that will identify common themes for educational practice. District Principal Kaleb Child, has been invited by the Ministry of Education to facilitate these regional gatherings upcoming in Burnaby, Cranbrook, Williams Lake and Kelowna. “These sessions and the resulting document will make a major contribution to defining next steps in learning for all,” says Scott Benwell, Superintendent of Schools. Additionally, Benwell and Child stated that the publication will also build on the relationships between communities and schools to ensure teachers are well equipped to respond to the expectation of incorporating local First Nations perspectives into classrooms for all students.

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