School board supporting Indigenous students’ language, culture

Indigenous students will have access to language, culture and education, according to a presentation at this week’s public school board meeting.

During the District School Board of Ontario North East (DSB1) meeting on Dec. 6, the board was presented with the strategic plans to achieve Indigenous student success, including the work of Indigenous student advisors within each school’s team.

“Because of colonialism, assimilation and the imposition of western world values, it disrupted the transfer of knowledge,” said Indigenous education lead Jill Plaunt. “Many of the learnings and the teachings from the elders are not getting passed down to the youth.”

The student success teams are meant to provide support to students in need, with a focus on graduation.

“The student success teams collaborate and share information to identify the root causes of some of the academic challenges, implement instructional strategy and support, and really focus on strong relationships,” said Lisa Yee, the student success lead, during the presentation.

The teams focus on tracking credit accumulation and attendance metrics.

“We know through research that students who have earned 16 credits by the end of Grade 10 are the most likely on track to graduate,” said Yee.

For Indigenous students, programs like the specialist high skills majors in arts and culture with an Indigenous focus allow students to complete their high school diploma while focusing on a trade or subject they are interested in.

These programs are available in all of DSB1’s secondary schools.

Timmins High & Vocational School, Cochrane Secondary School and Timiskaming District Secondary School are also offering Cree and Algonquin language classes for the first time this year.

SEE: Indigenous languages ​​being introduced to more local students

“We are leading the way in how we can support our students who identify as Indigenous,” said Yee.

The presentation also includes information on how e-learning can help students who don’t have access to schools, and dual credit programs, which offer college courses while students are still in high school, where students can earn both secondary school credits and college credits from the same course.

Students from Timmins Vocational High School and Timiskaming District Secondary School were able to access some land-based experiential learning opportunities.

The Timmins-based students connected with the Ojibway and Cree Cultural Center and learned from elders and knowledge keepers about Indigenous teachings and problem-solving.

“Kids really thrive when they’re in that setting,” said Plaunt.