Indigenous Education

The annual Qayqayt Honouring and Rite of Passage ceremony recognizes and honours important school transitions in the lives of Indigenous learners and takes place annually.


Elders and Knowledge Keepers Working Group – Search for Volunteers


We’re looking for teachers, parents, students, Elders/Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous Education Support Workers to join the district Elders and Knowledge Keepers Working Group!

This group will help guide our district’s goal to form a resource of Elders and Knowledge Keepers who can help foster an understanding of cultures, heritage, traditions, languages, protocols, and worldviews of Indigenous Peoples.

For more information about the group and how to join, email Connie Swan or reach her by phone at 604-517-6264.


Supporting Student Success

The Indigenous Education Program is designed to support the academic and social success of all Indigenous students in New Westminster Schools. New Westminster’s urban Indigenous population has remained fairly constant over the last decade, and consists of families of First Nations, Métis and Inuit ancestries from all over North America.

New Westminster Schools signed an Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement on October 7, 2004 – the first urban (off reserve) Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement developed in the province.

In the spirit of Reconciliation, New Westminster Schools implemented our third and most recent agreement, a five-year plan for 2018-2023 supporting the academic, social and cultural achievement of Indigenous students.


A Shared Responsibility…

“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

For the first time, this Agreement also includes a commitment ensuring all learners (staff, students and community) will continue to increase their understanding and knowledge of Indigenous history, culture and perspectives.

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 2019 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 policy sought 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 latest agreement was developed with the support of students, families, district staff, and partner groups on the district Indigenous Education Advisory Committee.  They included Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation, Elder Keely George of the Douglas First Nation, along with representatives from Douglas College and Simon Fraser University, Aboriginal Child and Youth Mental Health, and other stakeholders.

Together, through a process of collaboration, consultation and consensus, these representatives set goals for Indigenous student achievement for 2018-2023.


Our Four Goals…

The New Westminster Schools Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement for 2018-2023 highlights four key goals, along with the indicators that will measure progress in reaching them:

  • Goal 1: Belonging and Culture: Indigenous students will develop pride, confidence and self-esteem through the affirmation of their ancestral identity.
  • Goal 2: Academics: Indigenous learners will improve performance in grades 4 through 7 in numeracy, reading and writing.
  • Goal 3: Transitions: Indigenous 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 Indigenous 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, a past district coordinator for Aboriginal programs.

These goals were developed with the guidance of the Indigenous Advisory Committee, parent and student representatives, District Administrators, principals and vice-principals, union  leaders, and representatives of post-secondary and community organizations.


Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement 2018-2023

Related links



For more information on the supports and services available for Indigenous students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 please email Connie Swan, District Vice-Principal for Indigenous Education, or reach her by phone at 604-220-6140.