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Blog: Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Building Connections to Aboriginal Culture

I believe the strongest correlating factor to Aboriginal student success in schools is the opportunity for students to deeply connect to culture and language. Indigenous languages reflect the unique connection between First People and their environment. And strong connection to Indigenous language and culture also strongly correlated to benefits including more regular attendance, higher rates of academic achievement, decreased rates of youth suicide and even improved rates of health such as decreased levels of diabetes. Student success is also strongly connected to the relationships students have in their schools.

As part of the District Strategic Plan, the Aboriginal Department supports a progressive work force that provides Aboriginal services to each student who are familiar with, and sensitive to, the values, beliefs and needs of our Aboriginal community. The Department, in collaboration with the HR, is working on actively recruiting new staff with a strong connection to Aboriginal culture and language. These staff are connected to their Aboriginal culture and have a shared lived experience that provide them with insight and allows them to more readily relate to the experiences of our students. Ongoing training and support for our Cultural Support Workers continues at Teléwx (Hal’qemeylem for ‘to learn’) sessions every Monday at the Aboriginal Centre. These new staff are very important in our goals to create culturally safe and welcoming environments for our Aboriginal students and families. When our students see themselves reflected in the schools, they will feel more connected. It is also important for our non-Indigenous students to see the positive presence or our Aboriginal cultural support workers engaged in our schools and working alongside their colleagues to support the success of our students.

DARLENE MACDONALD
DISTRICT PRINCIPAL, ABORIGINAL EDUCATION