The Truth and Reconciliation: Commitment to Action plan was formally launched at the signing ceremony.
Photos supplied by the Rainbow District School Board
Representatives of Rainbow District School Board and First Nations gathered at Atikameksheng Anishnawbek to celebrate the renewal of the Education Service Agreement.
In effect from September 2019 to August 2022, the agreement reaffirms the board’s commitment to First Nations students and recognizes the unique relationship with their communities.
Board chair, Doreen Dewar says in signing this agreement, the board is honouring the history and culture and committing to better meet the needs of First Nations students.
Made up of representatives from all the First Nations in the local districts, the First Nations Advisory Committee advises the board about matters First Nation students, including reviewing the agreement.
First Nations Trustee, Chief Linda Debassige of M’Chigeeng First Nation says key objectives of the renewed agreement are not only to improve the rate of First Nations students graduating from Grade 12 but to also improve the relationship between First Nations and the board in moving forward on a collaborative basis.
She also commended the First Nations Advisory Committee on their work.
The First Nations who signed the Education Service Agreement include:
- Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
- Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation
- Dokis First Nation
- M’Chigeeng First Nation
- Sagamok Anishnawbek
- Sheguiandah First Nation
- Sheshegwaning First Nation
- Wahnapitae First Nation
- Whitefish River First Nation
- Zhiibaahaasing First Nation
The agreement has been developed with the vision and spirit of enhancing the ability of First Nations learners to meet their goals. It also affirms the rights of all First Nations students to receive a quality education that includes access to culture, language, and programs that support wellbeing and achievement.
In April 2017, the Rainbow District School Board passed a motion acknowledging the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and committing to key recommendations as they relate to education. Under the guidance of the First Nations Advisory Committee and through broad community consultations led by Nbisiing Consulting, the Truth and Reconciliation: Commitment to Action plan was developed. The plan, which was adopted by the Board on July 3, 2018, was formally launched at the signing ceremony. The cover of the plan features an original painting by First Nation artist Leland Bell – Bebaminojimat entitled “Gesture of Goodwill”.
In the Education Service Agreement, seven social factors provide the guiding principles – curricular and instructional practices, organizational practices, linguistic perspectives and practices, personnel equity, school culture, school/community involvement and relations and equity of educational outcomes. A progress report is presented annually, ensuring that outcomes are being measured over time.
The parties to the Education Service Agreement have a continued understanding to increase academic success of First Nations learners, honour and support the language, culture, and history of the First Nation people whose territories are served by the Board, increase knowledge and understanding of First Nations people, build awareness of the important issues that affect First Nations learners in our schools, and bring about positive change for all students.
“We value our relationship with First Nations communities,” said Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “The new agreement reinforces our commitment to maintain our focus on academic and social factors. We have made tremendous progress in Indigenous Education and will build on our work for the ongoing benefit of First Nations learners and all students in Rainbow Schools.”
The agreement is consistent with the Government of Ontario’s First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework that “First Nation, Métis, and Inuit students in Ontario will have the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to successfully complete their elementary and secondary education or training and/or to enter the workforce. They will have the traditional and contemporary knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to be socially contributive, politically active, and economically prosperous citizens of the world. All students in Ontario will have the knowledge and appreciation of contemporary and traditional First Nation, Métis and Inuit traditions, cultures and perspectives.”
Representatives of First Nations communities signed the Education Service Agreement with Rainbow District School Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Director of Education Norm Blaseg.
Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Norm Blaseg and Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Chief Valerie Richer
Rainbow District School Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation Chief Patsy Corbiere
Elder Art Petahtagoose of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek emphasized the importance of the Education Service Agreement.
Rainbow District School Board Chair Doreen Dewar and M’Chigeeng First Nation Chief Linda Debassige who is also the First Nations Trustee on Rainbow District School Board
Rainbow District School Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Director of Education Norm Blaseg sign the Education Service Agreement with Sagamok Anishnawbek Chief Nelson Toulouse.
Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Norm Blaseg and Sheguiandah First Nation Band Counsellor Pearl Waindubence
Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Norm Blaseg and Wahnapitae First Nation Chief Larry Roque
Rainbow District School Board Chair Doreen Dewar and Whitefish River First Nation Chief Shining Turtle