Signatories to the third Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement.
Top row: Chris Lewis, Skwxwú7mesh Nation; Ann Whonnock, Skwxwú7mesh Nation; Chief Maureen Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation; Glen Ohs, Métis Nation British Columbia; Brad Baker, North Vancouver School District; Dennis Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
Bottom row: Jane Thornthwaite, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour; Christie Sacré, North Vancouver Board of Education; Karim Hachlaf, North Vancouver Administrators' Association; Carolyn Pena, North Vancouver Teachers' Association.
Traditional ceremony, songs and a meal marked the North Vancouver School District's third Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement signing at the Squamish Nation Longhouse on June 20, 2016. Developed over the past year and a half, the agreement further strengthens and supports Aboriginal student achievement and success.
"Great work is being accomplished in our school district to support students of Aboriginal ancestry and to embed the First Peoples Principles of Learning into the curriculum for all students. The third Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement demonstrates our commitment to continue with this work and exemplifies our district vision to inspire success for every student by bringing communities together to learn, share and grow," said Christie Sacré, Chairperson, North Vancouver Board of Education.
The agreement uses the wisdom gathered at collaborative sessions in the community, student information meetings, and formal committee meetings with First Nations, Métis and Inuit families, students and Elders. The North Vancouver School District recognizes and acknowledges the traditional territory of the Skwxwú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, and their involvement in the creation and execution of this agreement is paramount.
"This is one more step towards building a successful future for our youth. This agreement is a collective responsibility between those parties who wish to see our First Nations children succeed in their educational journey, and our Nation is grateful to be a part of this," said Chief Maureen Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
The agreement is built on the foundations of four "house posts", which are the stronghold of Coast Salish longhouses and are a representation of the importance of the students, educators, community and family in the district. The four posts follow the guiding principles of consultation, collaboration, communication and consensus. The Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement is a five-year commitment by the school district, local Aboriginal communities, and the Ministry of Education to work together to enhance the educational achievement of Aboriginal students through programming that supports First Nations, Metis and Inuit history, culture and language.
"Our goal is for Aboriginal learners to develop a strong sense of belonging and confidence through pride in their cultural heritage and connection with their community. Métis, First Nations and Inuit learners will benefit from enhancing the learning environment so that all learners feel safe and respected and have a positive sense of place. Métis Nation British Columbia will work with traditional Knowledge Keepers to ensure that all learners have academic and social success," said Bruce Dumont, President, Métis Nation British Columbia.
"Our Elders' advice was to behave towards the teachers as if you were talking to your parents. This Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement is intended to bring the voices of parents into our children's school day," said Vanessa Campbell, Squamish Language Program, Squamish Nation Education.
This agreement builds on the prior two Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements that have guided the work of the North Vancouver School District for the past decade. The latest agreement ensures that the work to embed Aboriginal history, culture and perspectives into the curriculum continues. Students of Aboriginal ancestry thrive when the entire school community understands Aboriginal culture, history and ways if knowing.
"SD 44 is committed to providing culturally appropriate education programs that support the academic and personal success of Aboriginal learners. This new agreement will ensure we meet the needs of North Vancouver's Aboriginal students through responsive and supportive programs that embrace collaboration and promote inclusion, mutual respect and cultural pride," said Jane Thornthwaite, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour.