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Hundreds expected to celebrate signing of Comox Valley's aboriginal education deal
After extensive community consultation, the Comox Valley's third Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement is set to be signed Dec. 16.
Bruce Carlos, Comox Valley district principal of aboriginal education, announced recently the Ministry of Education has approved the new agreement, which it did just in time for his presentation at a Comox Valley Board of Education meeting.
An Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement is a working agreement between the school district, local aboriginal communities and the Ministry of Education that is designed to enhance the educational achievement of aboriginal students.
The Comox Valley's second agreement expired in June. This new agreement will be effective in September, and carry through until 2019.
Retired district principal of aboriginal education Lynn Joseph noted the community consultation that went into the new agreement was significant.
"There was over 2,000 responses from the survey which was focused on community members and staff and aboriginal people, parents, students particularly, as well as having gatherings and community events to solicit those responses," she told the board, noting the district's level of engagement was something the ministry pointed to being "far beyond" other districts.
Although the document is not public until it's signed, trustees got to take a look, and Carlos announced the four goals, which he said are very similar to the previous agreement:
Goal 1 – To increase every aboriginal student's sense of belonging, cultural identity and self-esteem;
Goal 2 – To increase the academic success of all aboriginal students through personalized learning;
Goal 3 – To increase the awareness and understanding of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit history, traditions and culture for all students;
Goal 4 – To increase aboriginal students’ skills, qualities and confidence in leadership;
The signing ceremony will be held Dec. 16 at the Sid Williams Theatre. About 350 students from Grades 4 to 12 are expected to attend, as well as various officials, dignitaries, Aboriginal Education Council members and community members.
The ceremony, according to Carlos, will feature a variety of performances featuring the diversity of aboriginal cultures in the Comox Valley, plus student performances.
"What I'd like is, those 350 kids who come, that they'll see a bit of themselves in this ceremony that they can attach to because this really is about kids in our district," said Carlos. "This (agreement) is about them the next five years, so hopefully they'll see that."
Joseph added the language in the agreement connects directly to the district's Achievement Contract, and the goals connect together.
"If a child is doing well in school they have a sense of belonging," she said. "If they have that sense of belonging and they're doing well in school, they are more likely to be leaders as aboriginal students. And the rest of the students, the more that they learn about aboriginal children, families, history, culture, that's woven into the success of the aboriginal students and, actually all students in school.
"So, we're really making that idea of weaving together of the four goals to create overall success and achievement for students."
For more information, visit http://www2.sd71.bc.ca/abed.