The growing synergy between Central Okanagan Public Schools and the local Indigenous culture was reflected in a presentation to school trustees at the board of education meeting on Wednesday ( May 17).
Two teachers and a student from Mount Boucherie Secondary talked about the significance of the recent Red Dress Day, also recognized as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day.
Xavier Robinson, an Indigenous student who recently moved to Kelowna from Prince Rupert, spoke about the significance of the colour red, and how it is worn to pause and remember and reflect on the lost lives from the Highway of Tears unsolved Indigenous women murders.
“It is important to teach others about it,” said Robinson, who was assisted in his presentation by Indigenous Academy teacher Mary Redfearn.
Teacher Carlee Mills-Doherty told trustees about how a seven-part CBC podcast entitled Who Killed Alberta Williams, a 24-year-old woman found dead along the Highway of Tears near Prince Rupert in 1989, has become a teaching tool for her classes since 2016 about Indigenous culture history.
Mills-Doherty said the podcast has served as an effective entry point to access different discussion points with students about the history of Indigenous culture in Canada, about bias, justice and fair representation.
“Rather than write essays about this, we sit in a circle and allow students to discuss these sometimes difficult social justice issues,” she said.
“It is easy to be overwhelmed by the Indigenous culture topic, but using the podcast as a discussion point eases some of the anxiety students might feel…and help them gain a greater sense of knowledge.”
The board of education has declared the month of May as Food Allergy Awareness Month in Central Okanagan Public Schools.
Two noteworthy events came out of the annual general meeting of the B.C. School Trustees Association held in Vancouver.
One was the election of trustee Julia Fraser as vice-president of the BC Thompson Okanagan branch of the BCSTA.
The other was an opportunity by the board of education chair Lee-Ann Tiede to meet with the provincial education and childcare minister and address various rising enrolment issues facing Central Okanagan Public Schools.
Tiede reported the minister was invited to tour the school district schools at a future date.
The Central Okanagan Bursary and Scholarship Society recently celebrated 52 years of financially assisting local grads in pursuit of their post-secondary education by hosting a donor appreciation tea on May 1.
In 2002, donation support resulted in 585 bursary and scholarship awards with a value of $545,315.
Two other days of recognition significance acknowledged by the board of education during the month of May – May 12 is Child Care Provider Appreciation Day and May 12 is Celebration of Women in Math Day.
Mount Boucherie Secondary will host the school’s first student community visual art show at the Peachland Art Gallery, which opens May 27 and continues until the end of June.
The art gallery is located at 5684 Beach Ave. in downtown Peachland.
Central Okanagan Public Schools welcomed a group of nine educators from Sweden, who spent a day visiting three schools to gain some professional inspiration and how to learn how to better engage children in reading and writing.
The Swedish educators met with teachers, sat in on classes, took part in assemblies and attended staff support meetings during their visit.