Okanagan Similkameen signs third Aboriginal Agreement - InfoNews

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Okanagan Similkameen signs third Aboriginal Agreement

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October 07, 2016 - 2:31 PM

KEREMEOS - The Okanagan-Similkameen school district (SD 53) signed their third Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement on Oct. 5, 2016.

Linda Larson, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen, attended the signing ceremony at the Lower Similkameen Indian Band gymnasium in Keremeos on behalf of Education Minister Mike Bernier. Developed with local Aboriginal communities, parents, students, teachers, administrators and the community, the enhancement agreement further strengthens and supports Aboriginal student achievement and success in the district.

Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements are a five-year commitment by school districts, local First Nations communities and the Ministry of Education to work together to enhance the educational achievement of Aboriginal students through programming that supports Aboriginal history, culture and language.

Under this agreement the district is:

  • working collectively to support Aboriginal learners
  • fostering greater understanding of the Okanagan culture among all district staff to support Aboriginal students' participation in traditional community activities
  • continually enhancing the academic performance of Aboriginal learners
  • encouraging collaboration between students, parents, Elders and band staff, as well as district and school staff to build awareness and appreciation for Aboriginal cultures

This third agreement is using the knowledge gained from the district's previous enhancement agreements to improve student success. It also builds on government's work to include Aboriginal history, culture and perspectives into British Columbia's new curriculum.

To further support teachers in bringing Aboriginal content and perspectives into the classroom, government has created a resource guide called Aboriginal Worldviews Perspectives in the Classroom.

"I am proud of this third agreement as it reflects the positive relationships and collaboration in our schools and local Aboriginal communities to improve school success for our Aboriginal learners. The Enhancement Agreement promotes understanding of Aboriginal history and culture with all students and staff and signals school district 53's commitment to continue to work together in the years to come," says Marieze Tarr, board chair, Okanagan-Similkameen school district.

"Peace, dream, learn, achieve through hard work. I'm grateful all children will learn about our walk suk?naqin* and sm?lqmix* and incorporate some of the teachings in their lifestyle," says Gloria Bent, Elder.

Quick Facts:

  • Over 19% of students in the Okanagan Similkameen school district are Aboriginal.
  • In SD 53 the completion rate for Aboriginal students was 61.2% in 2014-15.
  • To date, 56 school districts have signed at least one Enhancement Agreement. Thirty-five of those districts have signed a second agreement, five districts have signed three agreements and two districts have signed four agreements. In total, 107 agreements have been signed.
  • Total K-12 Aboriginal enrolment in B.C. public schools this year is 10.7%, or 67,636 students.
  • Since 2000, the provincial six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students has increased from 39% to 63%.
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