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School District 47, Tla’amin Nation reach education agreement

Document provides opportunity to focus attention on improving educational outcomes for students
MOTION PASSED: Tla’amin Nation and School District 47 have put together an agreement designed to improve educational outcomes for Tla’amin students in the school district.

School District 47 (SD47) trustees have passed a motion to sign the Tla’amin Education Agreement (TEA) and put it into effect January 1, 2023.

At the Powell River Board of Education meeting on December 20, trustees supported the agreement, which states that adoption of TEA provides a significant opportunity for Tla’amin and SD47 to focus attention on improving educational outcomes for Tla’amin students and on developing the relationship necessary to accomplish that goal.

In introducing the agreement, superintendent of schools Dr. Jay Yule said both parties had been working on the agreement for a couple of years.

Yule said it is similar to previous education agreements, which are intended to have the nation take the lead for the education of the students.

“We’re the deliverer of that and a partner,” said Yule. “[TEA] is a lot more extensive than the last agreement and we’re happy to have one. There are many districts that don’t have agreements.

“We’ve had extensive conversations at committee of the whole around the agreement and the board contributed to changes and edits that have been made along the way. The nation was happy to sign the agreement.”

Yule said correspondence had been sent to Tla’amin regarding its representation on the board of education. The correspondence stated that SD47 was writing to request a meeting for further dialogue to understand how the district can support the nation moving forward on this important issue.

“As we know, that is in the purview of the provincial government, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t open to having that conversation,” said Yule. “We want to help them if that’s a direction they want to move in. We want to have that conversation.”

Trustee Maureen Mason said it is a solid agreement and the district should be proud of it.

“The real piece now is getting it operationalized,” added Mason. “My question is: do we operationalize this or is that a collaborative conversation?”

Yule said it is a collaborative conversation and there is a mechanism in the TEA once it is signed. He said the groups will get together and work out the terms of reference.

Trustee Kirsten Van’t Schip said she thinks the TEA is a great commitment and she is pleased that it is finalized.

“It is a beautiful agreement and I really look forward to moving forward in a good way,” said Van’t Schip.

Correspondence from Tla’amin hegus John Hackett stated that the nation is grateful for the signing of the 2023 to 2027 agreement, which lays out the nature of the relationship between the two bodies and will serve as a road map for important work ahead.

“We acknowledge your willingness to work with us, our children and families in a good way, informed by the past and guided by principles that have been with us for many generations,” stated Hackett. “We believe that you, like us, wish to see our students flourish, grounded in who they are, holistically well, and equipped to reach their full potential.”

Yule said the agreements between Tla’amin and SD47 have been in place in the past, when Tla’amin wasn’t a treaty nation. That is why this latest agreement is called the Tla’amin Education Agreement, rather than a local education agreement, which is a common term across the province with non-treaty nations, he added.

“We had them before, for two different four-year terms, and when the latest was running out, we started to discuss a new one and have the conversation,” said Yule.

He added that the conversation started about three years ago and there was some seed money from the province which assisted the process. A template was available for the process but the nation had some policy experts working on items it wanted to include, said Yule, adding that it has been fine-tuned for local circumstances.