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School District forms committee to implement reconciliation in Prince George area schools

The Ad Hoc Committee will focus on UNDRIP and Truth and reconciliation Calls to Action
Trent Derrick
Trustee Trent Derrick's motion was approved unanimously by the board. (via Hanna Petersen)

Reconciliation within School District No. 57 (SD57) will be the focus of a brand new committee.

Thanks to a motion introduced by Trustee Trent Derrick at the Board of Education's meeting on Tuesday (May 28), SD57 will now have a group dedicated to implementing reconciliation in the district.

“Tonight we have an opportunity to bring real truth and reconciliation to the Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake Indian Band by forming an Ad Hoc Committee in order to support the implementations of the calls to action for the Truth and Reconciliation Report as well as the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP),” said Derrick.

“It is important to recognize that 150 years plus of colonialism, residential schools, and systemic racism had led us to this point in history. The wrongs that these policies have done are intergenerational and will not be fixed overnight but will need to be systematic in rebuilding the language, culture and traditions of the Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake Indian Band.”

In order to redress the legacy of residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 calls to action four years ago to advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.

The proposed actions call on all levels of government to work together to repair the harm caused by residential schools.

UNDRIP was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 and enshrines the rights constituting the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.

“I’d like to thank and acknowledge all of the hard work done by our staff at SD57 and the current committees working to improve student learning throughout the district,” said Derrick. “I do see the purpose of this committee building on, and building forward in building a sustainable partnership with Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake First Nation.”

Both provincial and federal governments have introduced legislation which would see a formal commitment of UNDRIP, a document which internationally affirms the rights of Indigenous peoples.

“This committee will allow School District 57 to partner with local First Nations, community groups, other levels of government to establish precedent-setting partnerships with local first nations,” said Derrick. “These changes are coming and it is important that School District 57 lead the way when the Canadian and Provincial governments legislate these changes.”

The motion had immediate support from all trustees on the board.

“I believe this is an extension of the kind of work that the Indigenous Education Committee can serve to do and I fully support it,” said Trustee Sharel Warrington. “I believe we have many partners in our district that have Indigenous connections that have been excluded from the conversation and it’s time that those voices were welcome back into the discussions that impact the children and our way forward.”

The motion to form the Ad Hoc committee was approved unanimously by the board.

“I want to thank Trustee Derrick for bringing forward this recommendation, it’s one that I fully support,” said Board Chair Tim Bennett. “I believe SD57 working with Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake Indian Band and our other First Nations partners can really lead the way in the province.”