SD73 Kamloops-Thompson School Board in partnership with the Aboriginal Education Council Signs the Fifth Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement

Posted On Thursday February 22, 2024

Story provided by Trustee Diane Jules and Board Chair Heather Grieve

Me7 n7ek’re Sw7ec-kt e Txwimime´n′tmes

We are here to change by Working Together

As the Chair of the Aboriginal Education Council (Diane Jules) and Chair of the Kamloops-Thompson School Board (Heather Grieve), we stand together to acknowledge, honour, and respect the history, culture, and language of the Secwepemc People on whose territory we reside.

Kamloops-Thompson School District covers approximately 27,000 square kilometres, 18 urban and rural communities, 48 schools, 2,650 employees and a diverse approximate population of 16,000 students, 18% of which are of Aboriginal ancestry.

“As both a trustee on the Kamloops-Thompson School Board and Chair of the Aboriginal Education Council, I am proud to say that our school board has had a strong, positive working relationship for over 25 years,” shared Diane Jules. “Together, we have been committed to supporting, enhancing, and increasing school success for all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students in the District.”

On February 22, 2024, we (Board Chair Grieve and AEC Chair Diane Jules) signed the fifth Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement. An Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (EA) is a working agreement between the school district and the Aboriginal Education Council designed to enhance the educational achievement of self-identified Aboriginal students.

At the same meeting, the council reviewed some of the successes of this long-standing quarter century relationship:

  • Self-determination: One of the important milestones of this working partnership is that the Aboriginal Education Council determines the allocations of the Ministry of Education and Child Care Aboriginal Targeted Enhancement funds provided to the District to support all self-identified Aboriginal students of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis ancestry.
  • High school completion rates: A second important milestone is that high school completion rates are the highest that they have ever been in our district.  2022-2023 5-year completion Aboriginal Student completion rate exceeded the previous cohort’s (2021-2022) completion rate by +4.6%. Completion rate for Aboriginal students living on-reserve increased by +19.4% from the previous cohort.
  • Student Voice: There has been an increased focus on student voice and responding to results (e.g., SD73 Aboriginal Student Leadership Council, Indigenous Student Summit, GSAs, Student Equity Committee, District Student Advisory Council).
  • Family Voice: There has been an increased focus on connecting with families (e.g., Aboriginal Education Outreach Workers, District School Completion Coordinator, Aboriginal Graduation Support Teacher, Aboriginal Family Counselors, Home Hospital Teacher) and on families having a voice (Indigenous Family Voices For Education).
  • School Choice: There has been an increased focus on ensuring that Aboriginal students choose where to go to school by being provided with options to attend any school in the district.
  • Staff Choice: There have been increased professional learning opportunities focused on understanding racism and changing structures, practices, language, and beliefs to improve life chances for Aboriginal students. (Aboriginal Ed School Lead Sessions, Indigenous focused Pro-D Day, Access and awareness with the new Indigenous Grad course requirements, Aboriginal Transition to post secondary and trades days, Universal Design for Learning, LART and CEA training).

“I am looking forward to what will grow from this strong foundation,” stated Chair Jules. “It has been a year of collaboration and review of how to live, learn, and work from a framework of Aboriginal values defining student success.”

The outcomes and successes of the fifth AEEA are based on the Brendtro, Brokenleg, and Van Bockem’s Circle of Courage (2003) of Aboriginal youth development which is based on the belief that all individuals, especially young people, have four universal needs: belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity.  When these four core values are nurtured and supported, young people are more likely to develop resilience, positive self-esteem, and a sense of purpose and belonging.  It provides a framework for promoting positive youth development and guiding interventions and programs that support the holistic growth of young people. The success of the Circle of Courage framework requires an approach that balances all the four core values.

“I am hopeful about our future as a district because of the leadership and commitment that we have developed over the many years as a Board and Aboriginal Education Council,” shared Board Chair Grieve. “It is only a beginning to a long road of realizing truth and reconciliation.”

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