A greater level of Aboriginal language education will be offered in School District 70 (SD70) for students in kindergarten to Grade 12.
With two Aboriginal education workers in the Valley and one part-time worker on the West Coast, students will receive more in-depth Nuu-chah-nulth language teachings.
The curriculum will cover the three main dialects of SD70—East Barkley, West Barkley, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht.
“Anything we create, we will create in the three main dialects of our school district, recognizing the fact that there are nuances in every dialect and families that have different ways of saying things,” Dave Maher told SD70 trustees on Tuesday night. “We will be building curriculum, digital as well as classroom based resources, in three distinct dialects.”
Maher said Aboriginal education is not new in schools, but what the district hasn’t seen yet is a “dedicated systematized nuu-chah-nulth language system” put into place with collaboration of SD70 communities.
“The biggest thing is, we need to do this together, we are learning nuu-chah-nulth together, we cannot do this alone,” Maher said. “As a school district, we have the education specialists, so classroom learning and how to work with kids, that’s where our expertise lies. We need the linguistic skills of our nuu-chah-nulth communities and in this case we also have a linguist helping us.”
A K-12 curriculum is being looked at that will assist teachers to use nuu-chah-nulth language in their classrooms. Nuu-chah-nulth Grade 8 -12 courses are also being worked on.
“Two years ago we recognized that Haahuupayak students were coming into ADSS and we recognized that as a district we really need to serve the needs of our students who have different language needs and wants,” Maher said. “Our goal is to have a supported nuu-chah-nulth curriculum so the time those students get to Grade 12 they can have a level of fluency that is significantly higher than it is now.”
West Coast aboriginal linguist, Adam Werle, introduced himself to SD70 trustees through video and said the Aboriginal education program plans to increase the amount of nuu-chah-nulth language offered throughout all schools in the district.
“Part of my long-term goal is to see a nuu-chah-nulth immersion program similar to the French immersion program that the school district already has,” Werle said. “We will be gradually adding to the amount of language that we see in the classroom and one of our top priorities are that every student that comes to School District 70 will know something about the nuu-chah-nulth language, people, culture and history.”