The Merritt Civic Centre was the setting for a colourful ceremony today to celebrate the signing of the district's second Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (AEEA).
AEEAs are five-year agreements to enhance the education of Aboriginal learners through programs and actions that promote academic success, positive self-esteem and cultural awareness. The second Nicola-Similkameen AEEA was developed over a two-year period through the efforts of all partner representatives, parents, elders, and community members at large.
Much progress has been made since the first Agreement was signed. Last September, the Aboriginal House of Honour was officially opened in the courtyard of Merritt Secondary School. This is the first Aboriginal Academy in B.C., and students are taught Grade 9 science, social studies, language arts, and fine arts using material that is culturally responsive. For example, science covers topics like which plants are edible and have medicinal properties, how the seasons and moon cycles affect nature, and environmental stewardship.
Don McRae, Minister of Education -
"I want to acknowledge the leadership work done in the district to support Aboriginal student success. I know that there has been much interest from other districts throughout the province who want to build their own version of Merritt Secondary's Aboriginal House of Honour."
Nicola-Similkameen School Board chair Gordon Comeau -
"With the successful completion of the first year of Aboriginal Academy 9, it is a perfect time to renew our support for Aboriginal students and renew our efforts to bring Aboriginal culture and history to all students."
- The Nicola-Similkameen school district (S.D. 58) is located in the traditional territory of the:
- Coldwater Band
- Lower Nicola Band
- Nooaitch Band
- Shackan Band
- Upper Nicola Band
- Upper Similkameen Band
- More than 40 per cent of the total number of students in the district identify as Aboriginal.
- Provincial funding for Aboriginal education in 2010-11 was $62.9 million (through a supplement of $1,160 per student).
Nicola-Similkameen school district (SD 58) Aboriginal Education: http://www.sd58.bc.ca/District/Aboriginal_Education.html
BC's Education Plan: http://WWW.BCEDPLAN.CA
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education