Aboriginal peoples continue to remediate the negative impacts of past government policies that forced cultural assimilation culminating in the removal of Aboriginal children from their families to attend Indian Residential Schools. These policies continue to have significant multi-generational consequences for Aboriginal peoples.
With this in mind, the Ministry of Education recognizes the importance of supporting Aboriginal learners beyond the normal structures of public schooling. One of the ways that this is accomplished is through the infusion of First Peoples Principles of Learning throughout the redesigned provincial curriculum. With a more in-depth understanding of Aboriginal peoples and their histories, cultures and traditions, all students in British Columbia will have a foundation for developing mutual understanding and respect.
Excerpt from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report:
Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future
Too many Canadians know little or nothing about the deep historical roots of these conflicts. This lack of knowledge has serious consequences for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples, and for Canadians as a whole. History plays an important role in reconciliation, it will take many heads, hands, and hearts, working together, at all levels of society to maintain momentum in the years ahead. (pg. 9)
The Ministry of Education also encourages districts to work collaboratively with local First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities to co-construct an Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (AEEA). The AEEA establishes a collaborative partnership between Aboriginal communities and school districts that involves shared decision-making and specific goal setting to meet the educational needs of Aboriginal learners. Aboriginal Education seeks to:
- Improve the success of Aboriginal learners;
- Support all students learning about Aboriginal peoples; and
- Help teachers in their efforts to bring Aboriginal knowledge into their teaching practice.
Surrey Schools support 2949 students who self-identify as being of Aboriginal ancestry. Our students of Aboriginal ancestry come from a wide-range of communities. The Surrey Schools Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement outlines our vision and three goals:
To have every Aboriginal learner graduate with dignity, purpose, and options.
- Increase positive identity and sense of belonging;
- Increased knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal history, traditions and culture for all learners; and
- Increase achievement of Aboriginal learners.
We believe that our students are our future, and consequently, all members of the Surrey Schools community share in the responsibility to promote the goals agreed upon in the AEEA.
Two music videos, Hide & Seek and Show Us The Way, centre on young Indigenous people embracing and acknowledging Indigenous heritage and feature 22 Indigenous students, representing 19 Nations from Surrey Schools. Student-written lyrics along with compelling visuals shed light on some of the challenges facing Indigenous youth in an urban setting. Through the arts, students share their powerful messages:
“The closer you look the more that you see, the wisdom of elders come back to me. Once taken from home, but now we are free, we won’t forget where we are meant to be.”
“See who I am, I’ve got something to say; I’ll show you again, don’t want to be afraid; I’ll be learning for the rest of my days; So I’ll stand tall if you teach me the ways; As we look to the future will you see me the same?”