“For reconciliation to work, and for our relationship to be renewed, there must be awareness, acceptance, apology, atonement and action.”
~ Senator Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In the spirit of Reconciliation, New Westminster Schools recently implemented its latest five-year plan supporting the academic, social and cultural achievement of Aboriginal students.
For the first time, this third and most recent Agreement also includes a commitment ensuring all learners (staff, students and community) will continue to increase their understanding and knowledge of Aboriginal history, culture and perspectives.
See our five-year (2018-2023) Agreement here:
What does Reconciliation look like in each of our schools?
The Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement of 2018-2023 was endorsed by the New Westminster Schools Board of Education in January 2019, and is being shared across the district.
The Board also officially committed in January to implementing recommendations outlined by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Commission was established to bear witness to the impacts of more than 130 residential schools in Canada that segregated 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children from their families and communities.
The goal was to eradicate First Nations’ language and culture and assimilate Indigenous peoples into the dominant culture.
More than 3,200 children died of disease; the last school closed in 1998. The commission heard from more than 6,000 witnesses and issued 94 Calls to Action.
Our Four Goals…
The New Westminster Schools Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement highlights four key goals, along with the indicators that will measure progress in reaching them:
- Goal 1: Belonging and Culture: Aboriginal students will develop pride, confidence and self-esteem through the affirmation of their ancestral identity.
- Goal 2: Academics: Aboriginal learners will improve performance in grades 4 through 7 in numeracy, reading and writing.
- Goal 3: Transitions: Aboriginal students will successfully transition from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and beyond.
- Goal 4: Reconciliation: All learners in New Westminster Schools (students, staff and community) will continue to increase their understanding and knowledge of Aboriginal history, culture and perspectives.
When it comes to Goal 4, “the call is for each school to ask what Reconciliation will look like in its community,” said Bertha Lansdowne, district coordinator for Aboriginal programs.
These goals were developed with the guidance of the Aboriginal Advisory committee, which includes Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation, Elder Keely George of Douglas First Nation, parent and student representatives, District Administrators, principals and vice-principals, union leaders, and representatives of post-secondary and community organizations.
See Related: "A New Westminster Schools Journey Toward Reconciliation "Taking Reconciliation to Heart"
The annual Qayqayt Honouring and Rite of Passage ceremony recognizes and honours important school transitions in the lives of Aboriginal learners and takes place annually.