Equity in Action for Indigenous Learners

Posted On Tuesday June 23, 2020
Mike Bowden
Mike Bowden, District Principal, Aboriginal Education

The SD73 Board of Education renewed its commitment to create equity for the district’s Indigenous learners at its regular Board meeting on June 22.

“We are doing significantly better than most other districts in the province with equity outcomes for Aboriginal learners,” said Mike Bowden, District Principal, Aboriginal Education. “However, as a district, we have not reached parity or equity for Aboriginal learners.”

Bowden updated the board on the district’s performance in The Equity Project, a province-wide effort to provide both parity and equity to Indigenous students that has been underway since 2015.

Compared to provincial five-year completion rates showing a 23 per cent gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, in SD73, this gap is 9 per cent – and the six-year completion rates, respectively, show an 18 per cent and a 5 per cent gap.

The work ahead is to completely close this gap.

“We are starting to recognize the barriers for Indigenous learners, and we better understand what needs to be done to address them to create equity.”

For example, Indigenous people are over-represented in low socio-economic status (SES) statistics. Although low SES is a prime indicator for low outcomes for students, Bowden said it is incorrect to assume this is why the gap for Indigenous students exists.

“The research shows that even without SES as a factor, Indigenous populations continue to struggle with equity in the education system as compared to non-Indigenous students,” Bowden said. “The assumption is that giving people equal treatment means everyone benefits from the same supports. In an equitable system, existing barriers are addressed by giving people support they need. Once barriers are removed and the causes of inequity are addressed and everyone has equity, we will be able to achieve parity.”

SD73 is three years into this work, as one of the seven districts initially involved in The Equity Project. This year, half the districts in the province are a part of the project. By the next year or two, Bowden said the Ministry of Education would like to have every district in the province enrolled and focused on bringing equity and parity in education to Indigenous Learners across BC.

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