Representatives from the Qualicum and Nanoose bands joined trustees and staff from the School District 69 and Ministry of Education staff recently to sign the school district’s third First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Enhancement Agreement last week at the Forum at the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre.
The audience at the Sept. 30 signing heard from Rosie McLeod-Shannon, District Principal of First Nations Education, that an Enhancement Agreement is a commitment made by the school district, involving all First Nations communities and the Ministry of Education, to work together to improve the success of all Aboriginal students. The agreements are based on mutual respect and trust and represent a five-year vision of success for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in the district.
By signing this five-year agreement, the parties were agreeing to foster a learning environment where First Nations, Métis and Inuit students feel confident and proud of their ancestry and where all students are knowledgeable and respectful of First Nations, Métis and Inuit language, culture and history.
Superintendent of Schools Rollie Koop spoke about the significance of the day and of the historical backdrop of the Indian Residential School system and its impact on Canadian aboriginal culture.
“Today is a day marked by mixed emotions,” said Koop. “As we gather to celebrate the signing of our third First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Agreement, we do so on a day where we wear orange shirts in recognition of seven generations of Aboriginal children who were taken from their families and denied their culture, language and identity. I believe that Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, hit the mark with his observation that because the education system was the primary tool of oppression wielded against Aboriginal people, education must play a key role in creating understanding and acceptance of Canada’s dark legacy of residential schools.
“More importantly, our public education system must now create the conditions and provide learning opportunities that will allow all children and their families to be proud of their identity, language, culture and history.”
The master of ceremonies for the event was Jesse Recalma, a Kwalikum Secondary School Graduate, who effortlessly blended traditional Hul’qumi’num language into the flow of the proceedings. Students from around the district spoke in glowing terms of their educational experience and shared their current career pathways.
— NEWS Staff/ SD 69 news release