The Prince Rupert School District (SD52) board of trustees will invite district principal for aboriginal education Roberta Edzerza to a future meeting to officially start the board’s response and approach to the federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Trustee James Horne put forth the question to the board if the board should take a position now that the commission has released its report.
“I think the board should have an opportunity to put that on an agenda and have a genuine discussion regarding it. This isn’t the time at this particular board meeting, but I think the discussion could be quite rich and interesting. How we teach that and how that will play out for the board and for the district is pretty significant,” said trustee Terri-Lynne Huddlestone.
SD52 secretary treasurer Cam McIntyre noted that the board wrote a letter with other school districts to the Aboriginal Education (Ab-Ed) council to jointly support the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Trustee Janet Beil was hesitant to intervene too early in the country- and province-wide response plan.
“As a school district I think we need to have clarity of what has transpired in history, however at this point I think we have to be mindful that there’s still a lot of work to be done … We need to get guidance through our Ab-Ed principal which is a person we hold in our trust to bring these issues to us,” she said.
Assistant superintendent Ken Minette agreed with Beil, saying that the framework on how the topic will be handled will be crucial for future generations’ learning and understanding of the issue.
“[By going through Ab-Ed] we’re supporting their initiative and we’re recognizing that it is a challenging time for everybody, but it’s an important part of our educational shift … We would like [to get] to the point where our kids are far more informed than they are today about what has happened with Aboriginal peoples of Canada and Prince Rupert,” he said.
Horne emphasized that the board is just one side to a two-sided issue.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not just an aboriginal issue, but it’s our issue as well, and so we need to consider our response to it – not just aboriginal people’s response to it,” he said.
Members of the public at the meeting also suggested to the board to take a proactive approach with the district having such a large population of aboriginal students and not wait for one side to start the conversation for them.
The trustees voted to invite Edzerza to a future board meeting.