The Rocky View Schools Board of Trustees showed unanimous support toward changing the school division’s Indigenous Advisory Circle terms of reference and the approval of a locally developed braille course on April 27.
As a result of the vote, many changes will be coming to the Indigenous Advisory Circle, including the official renaming from “committee” to “circle.” Other changes include the updating of memberships to better represent the three First Nations bands that make up Stoney Nakoda.
In addition, these changes will add a Siksika First Nation representative, since RVS neighbours that nation on the southeast side. RVS will also be replacing their Indigenous Inclusion Council Chair with a Director of Indigenous Learning and will be moving to a co-chair agreement between a trustee and Indigenous representative as opposed to alternating chairs.
Superintendent Greg Luterbach said these changes are important, as they allow the individual nations the opportunity to be represented by a person of their own choosing.
“I think that honours their own authority and autonomy,” he said. “Normally, staff would come up and determine those measures, but now what we’re talking about is going to this group to say what are ways that you would see as meaningful, measurable ways to determine whether both our First Nations students are feeling included, safe and welcome.”
Truth and reconciliation are top of mind for the school board, with Luterbach saying the April 27 decision will help show the schools, students, staff, and the organization as a whole are taking meaningful actions towards reconciliation.
Ward 5 Trustee Judi Hunter said that this shows a commitment that changes are being made. Noting that the changes are a large financial promise, she looks forward to seeing the impacts of such changes.
“This movement to have the circle and also to have our director of Indigenous learning represents a commitment to Indigenous understanding and the truth and reconciliation report,” she said. “It’s a significant financial commitment as well, so I think I look forward to see the outcomes of those.”
Also on April 27, the trustees showed their support for implementing a new course for the authorization period of September 2023 to August 2027. The new course – Unified English Braille 15 – will be offered in RVS schools.