The first of three workshops for aboriginal parents interested in supporting their children’s learning is taking place at the Timber Creek Hall in Enderby on Thursday starting at 4 p.m.
This first workshop is designed to pull parents together to begin the process of learning about one another and to address the educational needs of aboriginal students. The presentations are delivered by aboriginal teachers who volunteer to share their knowledge and experience. Organized by the Shuswap Inclusion Project, these BCTF workshops are free of charge and supported by the Splatsin Band and the North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers’ Association.
The parent workshops are part of a larger initiative by the Shuswap Inclusion Project which includes teacher workshops and student activities designed to foster racism-free schools for aboriginal learners. The ultimate goal is to insure schools are safe and welcoming learning environments where aboriginal students experience success without sacrificing their cultural identity.
Conference Board of Canada statistics show that aboriginal high school graduates have a labour force participation rate virtually identical to that of non-aboriginal Canadians. However, the current high school graduation rate for aboriginal students living on reserve is only about 50 per cent, far below the non-aboriginal national average of 90 per cent. The graduation rate for aboriginal students living off reserve is a bit higher, at 67 per cent.
Shuswap Inclusion Project chairperson Bernie Desrosiers notes that the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo has identified education as the number-one priority in addressing the difficulties facing Canada’s First Nations.
“This will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders,” said Desrosiers. “By engaging students, teachers and parents in the process, we hope to offer everyone an opportunity to be a part of the solution.”
The workshop runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will be followed by supper served in the hall. Timber Creek Hall is located next to Super Save on the south end of Enderby. Follow-up parent workshops will take place on April 5 and May 3.
Student competitions around a theme of Embracing Diversity are currently under way and workshops for teachers are scheduled to follow. The goal is to be prepared to implement the program in at least two of district secondary schools in September 2012 and have it spread from there.