Speeches, singing and traditional drumming highlighted a new agreement signing today to support aboriginal student success in the Okanagan Skaha school district (SD 67).
The district’s second Aboriginal Educational Enhancement Agreement (AEEA) is the result of two years of dialogue and consultation with students, parents, district staff and members of the Aboriginal Education Council (AEC).
The goals of this five-year agreement are represented by The Four Food Chiefs - a Syilx oral story, also known as captikʷɬ in Nsyilxcen (Okanagan). It describes the relationship between the Syilx, the people and the natural world.
The goals are:
- To raise awareness and understanding of Aboriginal history, traditions, and culture for all students and staff in SD 67. (Skemxist - Black Bear)
- To increase Aboriginal students’ sense of belonging, including sense of place, personal and cultural identity, and self-esteem in a caring, safe and inclusive environment. (Siyaʔ - Saskatoon Berry)
- To nurture and foster relationships between the school district and Aboriginal families, communities and organizations. (Spetlum - Bitterroot)
- To increase the educational success of all Aboriginal students. (Ntityix - Spring Salmon)
The second agreement builds on the first, which focused on student achievement under goals from the AEC.
The six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students in the Okanagan Skaha school district has improved by 150% from 25.2% in 2000-01 to 62.9% in 2013-14. The provincial six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students is now at a record high of 61.6%.
Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education -
“The signing of an Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement signifies a commitment to promote Aboriginal history and culture to students. In the Okanagan Skaha school district, the new agreement builds on the current relationships and will enhance an inclusive, caring environment for aboriginal students, teachers and the community.”
Linda Van Alphen, board chair -
“The second Aboriginal Educational Enhancement Agreement honours the Four Food Chiefs and supports the goals of raising cultural awareness, promoting a sense of belonging, fostering relationships and increasing educational success for all of our Aboriginal students. The agreement is a result of hard work and dedication from all the partners of the Aboriginal Education Council and many members of focus groups.”
Grace Greyeyes, Elder, Penticton Indian Band -
“Our children are our future. Every student should celebrate their academic accomplishments. I am proud of all our students who walk down the aisle at their graduation.”
- An AEEA is a commitment by school districts, local Aboriginal communities and the Ministry of Education to work together to support Aboriginal student success.
- The agreement establishes a collaborative partnership between Aboriginal communities and school districts that involves shared decision-making and specific goal setting to meet the educational needs of Aboriginal students.
- To date, 54 school districts have at least one agreement signed, while 28 districts have signed a second agreement and five districts have three agreements.
- SD 67 has an Aboriginal population of 803 Aboriginal students or 13.9% of the 5,757 students in the district in 2014-15.
- Total K-12 aboriginal enrolment in B.C. public schools is 61,811 or 11.2% this school year.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education