FN parents and elders concerned over cut in Aboriginal Education position

Dianne St. Jean

A letter addressed to Tim Bennett, Chairperson of SD57 School Board and Assistant Chairperson Nevio Rossi last month stated concerns over the removal of one of the Aboriginal Education positions at Valemount Secondary School.

The letter was written by concerned parents and Aboriginal elders who believe that the decision to reduce the position to one in Valemount is ill-advised and should be reversed.

The letter states, “We believe that your regard for Aboriginal success has regressed rather than progressed. The following results are proof that your decision to have two Aboriginal Education workers was a success.”

It goes on to explain that in 2005-2006 when a full-time Aboriginal Education worker was hired (shared by both schools), three Aboriginal students out of 18 graduated that year. Later another position was added, so that each school had its own Aboriginal Education worker.

“Twelve years later, out of a class of 15 children, nine Aboriginal children graduated. We call that a smart move on your part,” the letter states.

“We have sixty-plus Aboriginal students registered in our schools. The burden this puts on one Aboriginal Education worker is horrendous. We don’t believe that an overworked Aboriginal Education worker will be able to meet the needs of the students or the Aboriginal community.”

To them the cut doesn’t make sense, especially since the curriculum has been changed to include more Aboriginal content.

“First Nation children had been treated unfairly for centuries and we see this decision as a return to that treatment. This is not a time to go backwards in education, it is a time to make sure that everyone has a chance to succeed within their culture and within this country.”

The writers of the letter informed The Valley Sentinel that they have received a response from Mr Bennett who promised to follow up on their concerns. Their letter has also been forwarded to the Board of Education.

We will be following the progress of this situation with the concerned parents and elders and provide an update when they receive an official response.