Indigenous Woman

Indigenous Woman

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Reporting on the Vancouver School District, January 2011 Aboriginal Education Forums

Here is the VSB report conducted and prepared by Dr. Jo-ann Archibald Professor UBC
Allyson Rayner, Research Assistant, UBC and Ramona Big Head, Research Assistant, UBC.

The report represents parents, students and VSB stake holder groups, represented by their elected officials and the general public.   You really get the sense that people really care about what's happening or not as far as Aboriginal children are concerned in VSB public schools.  
The world, Canada, BC and the VSB want to know what to do to support and address the educational needs of Aboriginal, Indigenous children.
During my time as a First Nations School Support Worker over 15 years ago Dr. Lorna William's Professor, UVIC had conducted and prepared a plan for a First Nations School back in the day, there was very little support.  There appears to be support today.  However, today I've heard similar terms 'segregation'  and 'ghettoization' used and I'm not sure there is support.
Another similar to ten years ago is, good bad or indifferent, the education of our children is put on display.  Aboriginal parents, children and community endure all sorts of opinions and are recipients of (conscious or unconscious) racist opinions and internalized racism.  I've heard non Aboriginal people saying why is our system not good enough for them, they don't pay taxes, and Aboriginals making statements, I just want,  'to fit in', 'to be like the rest', 'equality for all' and today there are similar responses.  What has changed?   The desire to fit in at the cost of not seeing your self is too high a price to pay.
I do not recall an invitation to have a French Culture Immersion or Mandarin Culture Immersion schools.
Currently we have a number of amazing courses with Indigenous perspectives and none or very few are offered and in fact the question of can you change the name, for example, First Peoples English 12, First Nations Studies 12, what would we call them?  Why not change the name of English 12?

This is so complex yet we cant afford to be bystanders in the education of Aboriginal children.  I do hope the VSB will begin by opening a small program at the very least for students who want to go to a school that teaches, lives, honours Indigenous, Aboriginal perspectives.
I also wonder where the Indian Act, Residential Schools legacy fits into the reality of our collective history we all own.  How can we move forward with so much denial of this collective history that belongs to us all, both born here or immigrated.  To date and an approximate, in BC public schools we have just over 66,000 self identified Aboriginal students (k to 12) and about 250 self identified Aboriginal teachers teaching in BC public schools, I'm not sure how many self identified Aboriginal teachers there are teaching in BC Band schools, I do not believe these schools are filled with only Aboriginal teachers or administrators.

Why cant we create a school that appreciates and infuses Indigenous perspectives?  I imagine this school or program would not be an assimilating school but one that lives inclusion and sees the entire child with an Indigenous lens.
Aboriginal people are not all the same and contrary to the Indian Act or BC Education and policies we are not homogeneous and do appreciate the public report my concern is we will do nothing, but close programs for Aboriginal children and continue with the genocide of our culture.

(May 9, 2011)Monday night there is going to be another open forum to discuss the report.