Welcome to School District 22. We are home to the Okanagan Indian Band, the Vernon Native Friendship Centre, the Vernon & District Metis Association and First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples from across Canada and the Americas.
Aboriginal Principles of Learning integrated into the new provincial curriculum is central to our Aboriginal Education Department. We have 17 Aboriginal Support Workers, 4 Lead Teachers, a Secretary and a Director of Aboriginal Programs that help provide additional Aboriginal support to regular activities in the School District. This last school year our Department served over 1100 Aboriginal students (anyone who declared themselves Aboriginal – they didn’t need to produce membership cards as proof of ancestry).
Highlights included hoop dancing, productions of wall murals, tutoring, Welcome Centres, and a memorable first-time-ever Aboriginal Student year-end in Lumby that included JW Inglis Elementary, Cherryville Elementary and Charles Bloom Secondary, complete with a thunderstorm that lifted the spirits of the hundred or so brave souls who enjoyed the elements as part of the festivities.
Our department is dedicated to levelling the playing field – closing the gap between the success of other students and Aboriginal students. Next year we will have lead teachers doing, among many other things, internships in various schools, after-school workshops with other teachers, professional Development sessions, leading enquiry groups and concentrating on delivering the syilx (Okanagan) language in select schools. Aboriginal Support Workers (ASWs) will continue to work one-to-one and in group situations with Aboriginal students, providing cultural, emotional, social, spiritual and educational support to help those students towards success at all levels.
Our partners in this are the teachers, administrators, support staff and other employees in the School District. We cannot achieve success without such partners, nor can Aboriginal student success happen without the contributions of the Okanagan Indian Band, community organizations and individuals.
Finally, it is to the families and friends of our Aboriginal students that we look to for support of our students. Success is directly related to the encouragement, support and sometimes tough love that you give to these students.