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Central Okanagan school briefs: New oversight council for Indigenous education

School board relinquishes Indigenous education budget control

A significant step in authority over Indigenous education in the Central Okanagan School District will take effect for the 2025-26 school year.

The Central Okanagan Board of Education will relinquish control over the Indigenous Education Program budget to the Indigenous Education Council (IEC).

In the fall of 2023, the School Act was amended to include Bill 40, legislation created across the province to foster more effective relationships between boards of education and local First Nations while providing Indigenous education councils with new authority.

The role of authority takes effect July 1, 2024, with the Central Okanagan trustees signing off for the final time on an Indigenous education budget which is incorporated into the overall school district budget submitted by the June 30 deadline.

For the 2024-25 school year, the Ministry of Education and Child Care has increased the per pupil funding by 3.51 per cent, from $1,710 to 1,770, for each student self-identifying as Indigenous.

With an anticipated enrolment of 3,170 Indigenous students from K-12, the district will receive about $5,610,900 in targeted funding.

Chaired by Jordan Coble of Westbank First Nation, the IEC will consist of representatives from the WFN (3), Okanagan Nation Alliance (1), Okanagan Indian Band (1), Kelowna Metis Association (2), Ki-Lo-Na Friendship Society (2), Lake Country Native Association (1), Indigenous Parent and Family Education Council (2), two Central Okanagan trustees and one Okanagan Territory Elder appointed by the WFN chief and council.


Three individual Kelowna Civic and Community Award winners were saluted by school trustees at last Wednesday’s (May 8) board of education meeting.

The award-winning trio were:

• Emma Pinkerton, École Kelowna Secondary, Augie Ciancone Memorial Award, Young Female Athlete Award;

• Nash Semeniuk, École Kelowna Secondary, Augie Ciancone Memorial Award, young male athlete award;

• Ben Anderson, École Okanagan Mission Secondary, Teen Honour in the Arts Award


The board of education has endorsed a plan by Peachland Elementary to create a Community Garden.

Seen as another facet of outdoor learning, the school proposes to install nine galvanized above-ground metal bins with all materials donated by the Peachland Wellness Centre and the placement and filling of garden soil to be undertaken in coordination with the Wonder Club students from École Glenrosa Middle and the school district grounds coordinator.

A grant from the Peachland Wellness Centre will account for all material and labour costs to complete the project.


There was a wide range of opinions expressed in a survey from the school district on spending priorities for the 2024-25 budget.

The total responses numbered 1,237, up from 1,182 in 2023 and 349 in 2022.

Sixty-two respondents emphasized the importance of music and arts programs, retaining or expanding existing programs and creating new programs to further enhance the education experience and foster creativity for students.

Eighty-nine respondents underscored the need for more support for students with higher needs, such as more Certified Education Assistants (CEAs), learning assistance teachers or alternative supports.

There was also a call for up-to-date technology advancements in classrooms, highlighting the importance of keeping pace with technological advancements.

Other spending priorities noted were for outdoor learning, critical thinking, greater focus on academic subjects such as math, science and literacy, and upgraded facilities to accommodate growing student populations.


Trustees were given a presentation from Mar Jok Elementary Grade 3 teacher Katie Clayton, joined by two of her students Isabelle McBurney and Anna Jansen, by how learning can be driven by listening and following closely the voices of her students.

The power of collaboration, kindness and community was felt in Clayton’s classroom as she stepped back on a school project, to develop a habitat for animals they chose to live, and allowed her students to guide the learning process.

Both students expressed how they enjoyed the collaboration aspect with their classmates, and expressed some well-thought-out views on how to improve our stewardship of our land.


The board learned Nicola Baker has been re-elected for another term as president of the Central Okanagan Parent Advisory Council at its recent annual general meeting.

Simon Adams, the current vice president, has also been appointed as a director of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.


The Terry Fox Foundation has confirmed Central Okanagan Public Schools students raised $42,084.28 in support of cancer research.

École Okanagan Mission Secondary was ranked #16 in the secondary division for the top 50 fundraisers across B.C. and the Yukon.


Students and staff at École Dr. Knox Middle School will run their Bald Falcon fundraiser on May 31 in support of BC Children’s Hospital.

Some students have chosen to raise money in the community, while others have opted to ‘go bald.’

Over the last 16 years, more than $500,000 has been raised by the community. The goal this year is $14,000.


A prominent figure in developing educational schooling for the future, David Istance recently paid a visit to the school district.

A senior member of OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation and director of Schooling for Tomorrow and Innovative Learning Environment research projects, Istance was able to visit École H.S. Grenda Middle and École George Elliot Secondary in Lake Country and Canyon Falls Middle in Kelowna to see first-hand how local teachers and school administration staff are validating the research work he has dedicated his career to develop and champion.

Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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