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SD62 highlights Indigenous language retention & grad rates

No classes in SD62 on Mon Oct 2, 2023

sd62, trustees, executive
Sooke School District Board of Education and Executive Leadership Team [Sept 28, 2023 / SD62]

Thursday September 28, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 1:25 pm]

Education Analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

The Sooke School District (SD62) Board of Education today made a brief post in X (formerly Twitter) without a website link, saying: “The Sooke School District Board of Education acknowledges the role education played in the tragic history and legacy of residential schooling in Canada.”

scott stinson, sd62, superintendent
SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson at the Sept 26, 2023 SD62 board meeting. [livestream]

Further, on the SD62 website: “We honour and offer space for survivors, missing children, their families and the communities affected by the residential schooling system. It is our responsibility to learn from the atrocities and systemic violence committed against Indigenous peoples. Most importantly, it is our time to listen.”

Honouring the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation:

There are no classes in SD62’s west shore and Sooke schools (schools in Langford, Colwood, Sooke and Metchosin) on Monday October 2 as a day in-lieu to commemorate the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation which falls on Saturday September 30.

Language retention:

At this month’s SD62 public board meeting — held at the board office in Langford and livestreamed on September 26 — SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson said their Na’tsa’maht initiative (following a ‘one mind one spirit’ direction) is “noting the gap in Indigenous grad rates” but also “focussing on local Indigenous languages within our schools” (with the Na’tsa’maht department working on making local Indigenous languages felt more strongly in the school community).

Staying in high school:

At Tuesday’s meeting, SD62 Deputy Superintendent Paul Block briefly outlined the student transition rates, which indicate the overall success of student performance in the education system. For Grade 10 students transitioning into Grade 11 the transition rate was 92% this year, which is a 9% increase over the previous year and was described by Block as “fantastic work”.

paul block, fred hibbs, farzaan nusserwanji
Wearing orange shirts for National Truth & Reconciliation Day, at the Sept 28, 2023 SD62 board meeting (from left): Deputy Superintendent Paul Block; Human Resources Executive Director Fred Hibbs; and Farzaan Nusserwanji, CIO & Executive Director, Digital Solutions. [livestream]

By comparison, the transition rate for Indigenous students was lower at 86% but Block said that was the “closest in the last four years” and “only 2% below the provincial average”. Meanwhile, Grade 9 Indigenous students transitioning into Grade 10 moved forward into that next grade at a rate of 96%, which is at parity with non-Indigenous also at 96%, said Block.

He noted that Grade 9 into Grade 10 is a “difficult progression” based on grades not just “social promotion” (as happens in K-8).

The graduation rate of self-identifying Indigenous students increased by 1% in 2021-2022 up to 64% (compared to an increase of 2% for non-Indigenous, up to 78%). The grad rate is now called the ‘five year completion rate’ which tracks students completing Grades 8 through 12 without interruption.

jdf emergency program, go bag

Sense of belonging:

Noteworthy stats from the September 26 board meeting… that students are showing an increased positive response (a 3% to 5% increase) to a questionnaire in Spring 2023 (participated in by students in Grades 4, 7 and 10 to 12 — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) asking about feeling welcome, having a sense of belonging, and feeling safe at school.

But Deputy Superintendent Block seemed surprised at the plateauing of a rating for feeling “that adults care”, after that rate had already dropped for several years and has not gone back up.

Do adults care?

Block expressed a sense of “disconnect” about that, interpreting that as “hard to believe that the great work (of helping students feel more welcome and safe) isn’t supported by adults”. This is based on a question asked of students as to “if they feel like they have an adult that cares about them in the school.”

Block says there is more work to be done “to get to the bottom of this and find out what’s going on”.

Adults in the school system would be in a range of positions including teachers, educational assistants, administration, various project leaders, custodial, and bus drivers.

SD62 statement for September 30:

A statement posted on the SD62 website today upon the occasion of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation:

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be recognized on September 30 each year, starting in 2021.

“We affirm our commitment to walking the path of truth and reconciliation in support of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across the country. One of the ways we are working towards this is our Na’tsa’maht Enhancement Agreement. The Na’tsa’maht Enhancement Agreement is developed in consultation with local First Nations: Sc’ianew, T’Sou-ke and Pacheedaht, as well with Métis, Inuit and other Indigenous partners that reside in Coast Salish and Nuu-chah-nulth territories. The agreement ensures that we support ongoing collective ownership and commitment to improve the success of Indigenous students while providing learning opportunities about Indigenous experiences, culture and history to all students, and staff in the Sooke School District community.

Throughout our district, you will hear and see “Na’tsa’maht.” Na’tsa’maht is the purposeful way we work. It means being of one mind, one spirit. Together, working side by side, supporting each other, walking together. Good mind, good spirit for the good of our children, for the good of Mother Earth sustaining us. 

national truth and reconciliation, SD62
SD62 in social media on Sept 28, 2023 regarding National Truth and Reconciliation Day coming up Sept 30, 2023. [X]

Under Na’tsa’maht, we commit to practices and processes that progress Indigenous student success (one mind) and build awareness and understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures and ways of being (one spirit).”

Commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts is vital to reconciliation. As a Board of Education, we are in a continual process of learning how we can do our part to walk the path of truth and reconciliation across our school district and beyond.”

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===== SD62 Resources

  • Many are continuing to reflect, heal and confront traumas. The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides 24-hour crisis support to former Indian Residential School students and their families toll-free at 1-866-925-4419.
  • Individuals impacted by the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are encouraged to contact the MMIWG Crisis Line toll-free at 1-844-413-6649.
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis seeking immediate emotional support can contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310, or by online chat at hopeforwellness.ca


Mary P Brooke, editor
Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering the news of SD62 at the board and committee level since 2014. She ran for school trustee in 2022. In 2023 she was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation award that recognizes a woman journalist who contributes to her community through journalism. Ms Brooke now also reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery. | SD62 NEWS SECTION

Island Social Trends posts news insights daily at IslandSocialTrends.ca through a socioeconomic lens, with an eye to the influence of politics on the everyday lives of people, households, businesses and communities.

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