More Haida school trustees needed, CHN says

  • Apr. 30, 2004 4:00 p.m.

More Haida representation on the school board will lead to a better education for all children on the islands, Haida education director Vonnie Hutchingson said at public consultation sessions held this week in Old Massett and Masset.
“We have no wish to take anything away from anyone. We only wish to be equal partners,” Ms Hutchingson said. “If we work as partners we can only see our district grow.”
The consultation sessions, organized by the school board, are being held to find out what islanders think of the idea of changing the school board configuration so that at least half the trustees represent Haida communities.
Haida students make up a bit more than 56 per cent of students in the district’s schools, and Haida people make up approximately 33 per cent of the general population on the islands, Ms Hutchingson said. However, only two out of seven school board trustees are elected by Haida communities.
“The situation will become increasingly unbalanced if allowed to continue,” she said, noting that population has been growing steadily in Skidegate and Old Massett. If current trends continue, Haida citizens will make up 50 per cent of the islands population by 2010, she said.
The Council of the Haida Nation, Old Massett Village Council and Skidegate Band Council want to see Haida representation boosted to at least 50 per cent of trustees, Ms Hutchingson said.
Vern Brown, chief Gitiiwans, also spoke in Old Massett. Mr. Brown pointed to the Gwaii Trust Society and other island groups as successful examples of boards with 50 percent Haida representation.
Haida citizens would like to see their students graduating from high school at the same rate as other students in BC, he said, and having more Haida trustees would help with this goal.
“With Haida involvement, we can only do better,” he said. “I think what we need is some equity on all levels.”