Chiefs Endorse Plan to Establish First Nations School Board

Sioux Lookout, Ontario: At the recent Annual General Meeting for Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre, First Nation leaders supported a plan to establish a Regional First Nation School Board for communities in the Sioux Lookout area.

The plan was presented to First Nation leaders after a yearlong community engagement process that explored three options to transform the on-reserve school system for 13 communities that Kwayaciiwin works with. This process included community visits by meeting with community leaders, educators, principals, education directors, local education authorities, and community members. In addition, a survey distributed to each of the 13 communities found that 82 per cent of respondents supported option two, to create a regional school board. First Nation leaders supported the school board option by approving Resolution 07/2018 – First Nations School Board System at the March 27-28, 2018 annual general meeting in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Jeannie Beardy, Executive Director for Kwayaciiwin, says a regional First Nations school board system will support and strengthen communities in their approach to education by providing academic resources, expertise, management, and culturally appropriate resources and curriculum. It is also a crucial step for First Nations to assume greater control and independence of education.

“With strength in unity and collaboration, we can build a strong direction and future for our children that meets their learning needs,” Beardy says.

Kwayaciiwin will now work with communities to establish a new relationship for moving forward to create the Regional First Nations School Board and will work with the federal government to access the necessary funding. Initial estimates for roll out of the new system are by the Fall of 2020.

Since 2002, Kwayaciiwin has worked with communities to help students succeed academically by providing culturally appropriate resources and materials, and by supporting schools in areas of literacy, numeracy, data collection, technology, and governance.

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