Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

SD57 calling for ‘immediate action’ from province on Special Advisors Report

Nine recommendations in the report have provincial jurisdiction
school zone
School zone traffic sign.

School District No. 57 (SD57)’s Board of Education is requesting immediate action on nine government recommendations in the Special Advisors Report, which examined governance practices in the district. 

The board is also calling for the province to respond to Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band’s request for two additional trustee seats and the board table.

At the Oct. 26 public meeting, the board approved a recommendation to send a letter to the Minister of Education requesting immediate action on the items.

“We as a board are very committed to implementing and moving to the work of the 45 recommendations from the advisors. We recognize that recommendations one through nine are under the jurisdiction of the provincial government and Minister of Education,” said Trustee Tim Bennett at the meeting.

“We are asking the government and the minister to look at how they will implement those recommendations not only on behalf of School District No. 57 students but students across British Columbia.”

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside appointed special advisors Kory Wilson and Catherine McGregor to review governance practices at the SD57 in February and a report was released in late August.

The report was based on 56 interviews and a review of documents and found systemic anti-Indigenous racism and a “substantial culture of fear” within the district.

It then outlined 45 recommendations and the special advisors, the board and former school district superintended Rod Allen are currently working on a draft plan for implementing the recommendations.

A final report to outline the progress made by the board in meeting the government’s expectations is set to be completed by March 2022.

The provincial government recommendations one through nine of the Special Advisors Report outlines the shared responsibility between the board, the district and the Ministry of Education in addressing governance, policy and accountability student learning and systemic racism and relations with First Peoples.

These nine recommendations include:

  • Developing of a policy framework that requires all school boards to create mechanisms that give First Peoples voice and authentic engagement in decision making processes for Indigenous learners, i.e. Indigenous Trustees
  • Developing an implementation plan for enacting the principles of DRIPA in school districts, co-developed with First Peoples and other educational stakeholders
  • Authorizing an “In Plain Sight”, a report on anti-Indigenous racism in the health-care system by retired judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond,  report on education, led by an external advisor that acknowledges the nature of systemic racism and considers solutions and ways forward.
  • Considering ways in which districts can be required to report on their progress in implementing DRIPA as part of annual reporting.
  • Convening a meeting with educational stakeholders and rightsholders focuses on best practices in communication and relationship building with First Peoples
  • Creating a senior mentor ‘team’ that can be mobilized across BC to assist and advice around best practices in team building, professional learning, Indigenous education, equity scanning, relationship building, etc.
  • Working with boards to ensure that reporting on graduation rates more clearly identify five and six-year completion rates in all categories (Dogwood, Adult Dogwood and Evergreen).
  • Maximizing and effectively using existing tools to ensure ongoing and regular tacking of Indigenous students throughout the year
  • Piloting its new reconciliation training program in SD57

In September 2020, McLeod Lake Indian Band and Lheidli T’enneh First Nation requested two additional seats at the school board table for Indigenous Trustees from each Nation.

This would see the board table grow from seven seats to nine.

SD57’s Board of Education already has two designated seats with one trustee position reserved for a representative from the rural communities of the Robson Valley and another from McBride. 

The board is also currently in a by-election process, after the resignation of trustees Trent Derrick and Shuirose Valimohamed.The board appointed secretary-treasurer Darlene Patterson as Chief Election Officer and Sharon Cairns as deputy chief election officer and is working towards a mid-January 2022 by-election date.

“Recently we received a letter from McLeod Lake and Lheidli T’enneh and in that letter they said they are still waiting for a response from the minister under the trustee variance guidelines,” explained Bennett.

He then suggested the letter sent to the minister of education include a request for immediate action for the ministry to respond to McLeod Lake and Lheidli T’enneh.

Bennett’s request was approved unanimously by the board.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks