Gold Trail goes to elders for advice

School District 74 gathers input for Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement.

by Wendy Fraser

Bridge River-Lillooet News

The Gold Trail Board of Education is embarking on a round of public consultation for its new five-year Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement.

Trustee Larry Casper said plans call for meetings to begin this month to discuss “where were we, where are we and where do we want to go?” with the agreement. A second round of community meetings is scheduled for November, with the draft contract to be ready in January.

The final draft of the document is slated to be completed Mar. 1, 2012.

At the Board’s Sept. 20 meeting at Cayoosh Elementary, trustees had questions about when and where consultation will take place.

Trustee Carmen Ranta expressed concern about the time frame prepared by District Principal of Aboriginal Education David DeRose. She said it was “concise, maybe too concise. I just worry it may be a little too optimistic.”

Board Chair Valerie Adrian also questioned where and when aboriginal communities would be involved in the consultation process, saying she would like to see more involvement at the community level. She noted that DeRose had visited Xwisten (Bridge River) for community dinners and events, but not yet for purposes directly related to education.

Gold Trail Secretary-Treasurer Teresa Downs assured trustees she would share their concerns with him.

The Enhancement Agreements are commitments by school districts, with partner   Aboriginal communities and the Ministry of Education, to work together to improve the success of Aboriginal students. The goals focus on student success, highlighting the importance of academic performance. Th Agreements also establish programs that reflect the culture of local Aboriginal people and increase knowledge and respect for that culture.

Gold Trail’s First Peoples Education Committee will be working with a new Elders Advisory Group on the renewed Agreement. The Elders group will include representatives from each of the three aboriginal nations in the school district.