Aboriginal education enhancement agreement signed in Skidegate Wednesday, in Old Massett Thursday

  • Feb. 22, 2012 2:00 p.m.

by Jeff King–The gym at Skidegate’s Sk’aadgaa Naay school was full Wednesday afternoon, as representatives from the islands and the province signed the islands’ first Aboriginal Education Enhancement agreement. In the works for more than a decade, the agreement will act as a formal template for educators, although much of what it covers has already been implemented in the district. It focuses on helping students develop a strong sense of belonging and on improving academic performance in key high school subjects.”Things change and more over time. In the past, you got ‘schooled’. We don’t think in those terms anymore. School is an opportunity to find tools, to find out what is important and interesting to you,” said School District 50 Superintendent Angus Wilson.The agreement contains some basic tenets on how we are going to work together to ensure every student is successful,” he said, (I want to ensure) every student feels connected to their school, and they are not ‘getting schooled.”Mr. Wilson noted several people who worked on the agreement over the years, including current school board chair Elizabeth Condrotte, Bonnie Hutchingson, Mike Woods and Joanne Yovanovich, and he specifically pointed to the work of past board chair Wayne Wilson. “(He was) very much a driver to ensure this agreement got done and got done right,” Mr. Wilson said.Skidegate Band councillor Robert Williams said the agreement is a commitment to maintain our relationship with School District 50 and is a “firm philosophical and practical statement by all parties to facilitate the continued success of our students in the school system.”Rod Allen, Superintendent of Achievement, Ministry of Education in Victoria read a letter from Education Minister George Abbott. “Today marks a milestone for the families and students of Haida Gwaii,” Mr. Abbott wrote, “I congratulate you on your achievement, the result of years of collaboration.Thank you for the work you have done to make this agreement.” Mr. Allen also said “what you have done today is remarkable,” adding that the agreement shows new and improved ways to work together in a very collaborative way.” But he noted the easy part was now over. “The hard part starts today. (You must) live up to the goals in your enhancement agreement. Good luck and howa,” he said. The agreement was signed by members of the school board and the Skidegate Band Council, and there was dancing and drumming and refreshments before the event ended. It will be signed again Thursday in Old Massett, at 1:15 pm at the community hall.

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