School District 27 is hoping to have enhancement agreements with First Nations communities in place by mid-June, said First Nations district principal David DeRose.
Enhancement agreements go for five years and involve First Nations communities, the school district and the Ministry of Education.
“The intent is to enhance education for First Nation students,” De Rose said during a community meeting at Xat’sull First Nation Wednesday. “We want you to be thinking about your own community and giving us feedback on how we can better meet the needs of students.”
All of the enhancement agreements will be developed locally so they reflect the values of the First Nations people in the community, De Rose added.
DeRose and Jerome Beauchamp, the director of education for the district, have been meeting with First Nations communities in the district during the last two years.
“This is our 14th meeting. There are 13 First Nations communities in our district but some of those communities invited us back again,” DeRose said.
From one of those meetings and a suggestion from a parent who attended, the district is developing an education adventure program for First Nations, Beauchamp said.
Lindie Mitchell said it’s hard for students transitioning from small communities to the secondary schools in Williams Lake and asked if that’s something that’s taken into consideration.
“I got to Grade 12, I loved the courses, but then I never graduated,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t have any supports.”
Beauchamp said staff at both Lake City Secondary campuses are given a list of all First Nations students at the beginning of the school year.
“Our First Nation workers make contact with First Nation students in a meaningful way so the kids know who they are and we can make sure everyone is content,” he said. “We also encourage parents to be involved in the school.”
Lake City Secondary has a welcome event each September in the gym for parents to meet teachers.
“It was initiated by the school and we hope they’ll keep doing,” Beauchamp said.
Xat’sull employment co-ordinator Cheryl Chapman said that engagement is so important.
“If students don’t feel like they belong they will join gangs,” she added.