The Vernon School District and the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) have reached an agreement that will focus on the collaborative efforts needed to support students and families of the OKIB.
Announced Thursday, Feb. 17, it’s the second local education agreement between School District 22 and the OKIB, which came after seven months of efforts and renewed relationships. The goal is to build effective working relationships and strategies that will provide wrap-around supports for OKIB students and families.
The agreement acts as a guide setting out specific goals and outlining the respective roles to improve educational outcomes and graduation rates.
Local education agreements apply to on-reserve students for the purchase of programs and services by First Nations. The agreement is negotiated locally based on funding, transportation, sharing information and data, culture, language and other local priorities.
“The local education agreement will help improve our students’ success,” said OKIB Chief Byron Louis. “LEAs result in better grades, increased Dogwood completion rates, and smoother transitions to post-secondary education, training, or employment.”
In January the school district provided graduation statistics showing that 71 per cent of Indigenous students who began Grade 12 in fall 2020 went on to graduate, compared to 85 per cent of all students. The completion rate — which tracks how many students graduate within six years of beginning Grade 8 — for Indigenous students was 64.3 per cent, below the provincial average of 72 per cent.
“Education is key to true and lasting reconciliation, and through this LEA, we want to support Okanagan Indian Band students in being confident in their self-identity, their traditional values, their Syilx language, and culture,” says Board of Education Chair Gen Acton. “We want OKIB students to graduate, excel, and pursue their passions.”
A formal celebration of the agreement will take place now that COVID-19 restrictions have largely been lifted.
To review the local education agreement, visit www.sd22.bc.ca under the Board of Education tab.