The Vancouver School Board, members of the Aboriginal community and the Ministry of Education have come together to reaffirm their commitment to education success for students of Aboriginal ancestry.
The second Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement was signed at a ceremony at the Musqueam Cultural Centre on June 9. The agreement sets out the shared vision and commitment of all parties to the success of Aboriginal students, invites all VSB employees, students and members of the wider community to be accountable for supporting Aboriginal success, and provides a road map for the development of future relationships and collaborative efforts.
VSB Chair Mike Lombardi said the second agreement would expand on the awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture that had grown among students and staff throughout VSB since the first agreement was signed in 2009.
"As we move forward together, we will continue to work towards a learning environment where Aboriginal students are safe and respected, can achieve academic success, and where all our students have a strong sense of belonging in all our schools," he said.
Chief Wayne Sparrow, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Musqueam First Nation, said his nation had been encouraging education, and that students were graduating with master's degrees and taking up prestige professions like becoming a commercial pilot.
"It's that generation that has to make sure they get their young ones to follow behind and be successful as Musqueam," he added.
Colleen Hannah, Enhancement Agreement Coordinator with the Ministry of Education, emphasized the need for everyone to work together to further Aboriginal education.
"Unless we are moving together and journeying together and focusing on students, everything will stay the same," she said.
Members of the Coastal Wolf Pack drummed the signatories into the cultural centre. They sang during the signing and at the end of the event. Shane Pointe, VSB Knowledge Keeper, provided the welcome and ceremonial closing, and Queen Mary Elementary students sang a song for the occasion called These are the animals that the First People know.
Also signing the document were Scott Robinson, Superintendent of Vancouver School Board, Don Fiddler, District Principal of Aboriginal Education, and representatives from the District Parent Advisory Council, the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council and the Urban Native Youth Association.
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