First Nation, Metis, and Inuit Students: Education for Reconciliation
Greater St. Albert Catholic District is focused on meeting Alberta Education’s mandate to ensure high quality learning and achievement experiences for all children. Not all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students are meeting expectations of success compared to other students in the province. Therefore, the ministry is requesting that school jurisdictions “set bold targets, implement strategies, monitor student success, and take corrective actions where results are not achieved” (Alberta Education Business Plan, March 17, 2016, pp.33-34).
In Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students are exceeding provincial targets on achievement exams and are staying in school three times more often than students provincially. Even though our students are experiencing success in these ways, we have set bold targets using individual student learning profiles to ensure that every student will have more supports than they may have had in the past to excel and to transition into post-secondary by writing and succeeding on diploma exams.
To keep this promise of ensuring success for every First Nations, Métis, and Inuit student, we are committed to achieving these strategies in the Three Year Education Plan for 2018-2021:
- Developing further awareness of connections between our Catholic faith and the spiritual belief and practices of our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities;
- Innovative partnerships between home and school occurs to build student engagement;
- Truth and reconciliation furthers staff awareness of trust, respect and understanding of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit efforts to honour cultural strengths in a changing world;
- A district-wide First Nations, Métis, and Inuit education advisory committee to recommend school-based processes to maximize student engagement in learning;
- A day to celebrate First Nations, Métis, and Inuit heritage within our schools is conducted annually;
- Career counselling and post-secondary enrolment coaching is provided for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students.
This year, we have established two committees to achieve the strategies above. Our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education Advisory Committee, which is comprised of teachers, administrators, district staff, and community partners (Alberta Teachers’ Association, Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium, Centre for Global Education). These committee members, with their diverse identities and backgrounds, are collaboratively focused on working with all staff to understand and carry out the “Education for Reconciliation” strategies. These strategies are part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action (2015). We have a second committee, our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Leadership Committee, which is comprised of superintendents from Alexander First Nation and from our district, trustees from our jurisdiction, and community health providers who are committed to serving First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students’ needs. This committee is focused on developing partnerships between home and school by working with outside agencies and giving suggestions about best ways to work with parents to carry forward learning about Calls to Action in our Truth and Reconciliation mandate.