Aboriginal education coordinator Rod Peters (right) presents his report on Aboriginal education at the Sept. 12 Fraser-Cascade School District 78 board meeting. (X. Y. Zeng photo)

Aboriginal education report highlights SD78’s successes and goals

The report was presented on Sept. 12.

Fraser-Cascade School District 78 has released a report that speaks to Aboriginal education within the district.

It highlights the events that took place in the 2016-2017 year including the “lost boys project.” The project commemorates kidnapped Sto:lo boys by American miners during the Fraser Canyon gold rush. A memorial house post was carved by Coast Salish artist Terry Horne and installed at the Telte Yet Campground on Aug. 19. Horne spent three days at Hope Secondary School carving the post, and students also learned about this part of Aboriginal history and some were interviewed by a media company.

Another highlight involves NITEP, a training program for Aboriginal students to pursue teaching. The program could not find the necessary students to keep its doors open, however, the Fraser Valley NITEP Field Centre will stay open for this batch of first-year students. Those students will have to continue their second year at the University of British Columbia.

SD78 staff organized the Science Career Fair for Grade 7 students on March 8, which the report said students “really enjoyed.” Boston Bar First Nation and Boothroyd Band sponsored the event with funding from First Nations Education Steering Committee grants. In total, 170 Grade 7 students attended and met with vendors from post-secondary institutes and learned hands-on about careers.

The report also speaks about the goals they have for 2017-2018.

The first goal involves hosting a district-wide Orange Shirt Day instead of hosting separate events.

The second goal involves contributing with the Canoe magazine, which features stories about Aboriginal people to “empower students and staff.” The report said that most articles are written by the students. The board passed a motion to support joining in partnership with Mission and Coquitlam’s school board in producing Canoe at the Sept. 12 board meeting.

The third goal involves the Halq’emeylem and Nlaka’pamux language development day. SD78 has found funding for a second teaching workshop in this school year, and it will be held at the Tuckkwiowhum longhouse. They are expecting participation from language instructors and programs from other school districts.

Aboriginal students currently make up 37 per cent of the student population across the district. The highest portion of Aboriginal to non-Aboriginal students is in Boston Bar Elem-Secondary School, where it stands at 70 per cent. The lowest is in Harrison Hot Springs Elementary School, at 11 per cent.

Out of 41 Aboriginal students, 36 graduated with a Dogwood diploma, three graduated with an Adult Dogwood and two graduated with an Evergreen certificate. The report noted that three per cent of First Nations students were on the honour roll, compared to nine per cent of non-First Nations students.

“Hopefully we will continue to bridge that gap in future years,” said the report.

In terms of absenteeism, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students are most likely to miss 11-25.5 days in the 2016-2017 school year. Non-Aboriginal students miss zero to 10.5 days at a higher proportion than Aboriginal students. Aboriginal students miss 25-50 days, and over 50 days, at a higher proportion than non-Aboriginal students.