A first-of-its-kind collaboration, the Indigenous Education Leadership Table (IELT) has released a new video that highlights how the groundbreaking initiative came to be.
The IELT is a collaboration between the McLeod Lake Indian Band and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and School District No. 57 (SD57) which was formed in January 2022 to work towards Indigenous education reforms in the district.
All three parties now meet on a regular basis to ensure there is face-to-face respect, meaningful consultation, and ever-evolving understanding, regarding the work of education.
“Nothing about us without us” is a call to action to which the three parties are committed as the IELT works at the same level as the board of education on a government-to-government model.
“It came out of an idea that the Nations can actually help their students achieve higher graduation rates, a higher sense of education and a higher quality of education,” said Lheidli T’enneh councillor Joshua Seymour in the video.
“The purpose of IELT is to ensure the graduation rates for Indigenous students is a lot higher and the quality of education they are providing to all students will be at the standard of the provincial level but surpass it as well.”
One of IELT’s top priorities since its formation was to hire an Indigenous superintendent to serve as a representative on senior staff.
In April, SD57 announced that Pam Spooner, who has been the director of SD57’s Indigenous education department for the past three years, was appointed to the position of Indigenous superintendent.
“It has gone beyond words and into action,” said superintendent Cindy Heitman, in the video.
“We know the Indigenous learners in SD57 are not as successful as non-Indigenous learners. We know that First Nations have the right to oversea the education of the students. As we learn more and more about residential schools and work towards truth and reconciliation this relationship really helps built the foundation or that to happen in an authentic, genuine, and in the right way.”
On a March visit to Prince George, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside also met with IELT and said she was very excited the IELT has been established and she sees it as a fruitful way for the district to address the systemic-level changes that are needed.
“Our voices have more of an impact and we get to work with the trustees and the senior administration for the first time,” said Jodie Ware MLIB education director.
“There’s a lot of healing that has needed to take place,” said SD57 Board Chair Sharel Warrington.
“These past two years there’s been a lot of things happening that we need to acknowledge and address and the IELT has provided us with the opportunity to make that healing happen.”
The IELT is scheduled to sit for its next meeting with SD57 on May 4.