After months of negotiations, a goal for a better future has been established.
Members of each First Nation in School District #83, as well as representatives from the district’s school board, were present on July 3 for the official signing of the Local Education Agreement contract.
Although there were rocky points in the process, those involved were satisfied with the result.
“That kind of effort is unique,” says Dave Witt, superintendent of schools.
Chief Nelson Leon of the Adams Lake Indian Band, remarked: “It was a matter of taking control. In the past we have not had a great relation; this program has helped us turn that around and build a good, successful relationship.”
The education agreement is traditionally made between school districts, all local First Nations communities and the Ministry of Education. The program was formed to help increase the number of native students who successfully graduate high school, as well as provide better quality learning about the cultures of local bands.
The main goal for the new agreement was to design a way to not only increase the rates of First Nations students who receive their high school certificate, but to also help more students earn their Dogwood certificate.
Consensus on the new agreement was achieved on June 28, establishing the changes and goals to be adapted and worked towards over the next five years.
One band representative stated that in the future, he would like to see more history on residential schools being integrated into the school’s regular curriculum.
Tammy Thomas, who represented the Neskonlith band during the contract signing, said, “It has been great to work as a team. It showed us some challenges, but ultimately we came out on top.”
The contracts are renewed every five years.