Assistant superintendent Nevenka Fair updates the board of education on its Indigenous immersion program for kindergarten. Photo, Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

School district gets number for Indigenous immersion in Campbell River

Pilot project in Liq’wala/Kwak’wala language, culture

The Campbell River school district hoped for at least a dozen kindergarten students for a proposed Indigenous immersion pilot program.

It got that and then some, School District 72 staff told trustees at the Feb. 5 board meeting.

“It is going to go ahead,” assistant superintendent Nevenka Fair said while updating the board on the two-year pilot program, as well as a recent open house on Jan. 20 the district held for families interested in the program.

The kindergarten students are enroled in a Liq’wala/Kwak’wala immersion program at Ripple Rock Elementary that will start in September. The district’s hope was to get between 12 and 18 students signed up. As of the board meeting, Fair said there were 14 students confirmed.

RELATED STORY: Campbell River school to get Indigenous immersion program

Fair said the open house in January provided an opportunity for the school district to give parents an idea of what the program will look like as well as the history of how it originated. It also meant Ripple Rock staff got to share some information about the school itself and the opportunities they offer. She said parents commented later about how excited the staff were about the new immersion program.

As well, the district will also be talking to parents of children currently in kindergarten at the school to determine if there is enough interest to include Grade 1 as part of the immersion program.

The school district has been working to incorporate Indigenous culture in schools in a number of ways, such as through its Aboriginal Educational Enhancement Agreement and training for staff.

RELATED STORY: All Campbell River school district leads the way with indigenous training for staff

District staff also spoke at the board meeting about how the program fits with a recent United Nations declaration.

“This year has been declared by the UN as the Year of Indigenous Languages,” superintendent Jeremy Morrow said at the outset of the meeting. “I think it’s particularly timely.”

He added the UN has made this declaration in light of the critical role that languages play in people’s lives, serving as a repository for their history, unique identity, traditions and memory. At the same time, many Indigenous languages are disappearing.

Fair expanded on this to explain the UN declaration is opening up a number of grant opportunities from the federal and provincial governments for Indigenous language projects.

“We will be exploring these with our local Indigenous communities,” she said.

The trustees followed up with a motion to work with local First Nations chiefs and councils to explore any chances for more language programs supported by grants. The trustees passed the motion unanimously.

Trustee Daryl Hagen added that the district chose to move ahead with the new program at Ripple Rock on its own rather than as a result of a grant opportunity.

“I would like it to be noted that we did this not expecting to get any grants,” he said. “We just said we had to do this.”

Some trustees echoed the points about this being an opportunity to work further with the local communities on its Aboriginal Educational Enhancement Agreement. Others touched on how the program helps fulfill recommendations from the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Our support of this program is at least a first step along that way,” trustee John Kerr said. “I would suspect that we are probably, if we’re not the only district, one of the few districts in the province who is doing this.”

Just Posted

Oak Bay doctor the pulse of Island’s heart failure clinic

Dr. Elizabeth Swiggum has headed heart clinic for past 14 years

PHOTOS: A summer morning in Oak Bay

A walkabout at Oak Bay Marina

Annual study shows high satisfaction with B.C. post-secondary schools

Study also reveals men tend to dominate higher paying jobs in the trades

Pavement work to close Fort Rodd Hill

Historic site scheduled to be closed to public Sept. 3 to 6

Cross-examination begins for Oak Bay dad accused of killing daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Most Read