Group of students gathered, listening to an Elder speak 24APR2024 - Superintendent Newsletter - INED - spring break

How Spring Break Boosted Academic and Cultural Connections for Indigenous Students

April 22, 2024

The Indigenous Education Department held a special Spring Break School to support students with their academic success, connection to cultural identity, and connection to the community. Students chose from three programs: Credit Recovery for students who needed to re-do part of a course to pass or improve their mark, a Peer Tutoring-credited course, and a Foods-credited course.

The impact on student graduation rates and academic success was substantial. 20 students passed courses that they had previously failed. 8 students completed a Foods 12 course and completed a Food Safe Certificate to support employment in the future. 9 students completed the Peer Tutoring course and facilitated a Kids Camp for Indigenous Elementary students at the Reach Art Gallery. Overall, this supported 37 students in Grades 10-12 to stay on track for graduation or to graduate in 2024. 2 additional students on evergreen programs attended for individual goals and social and wellbeing support.

The impact on students connecting with their Indigenous cultural identity and learning through Indigenous ways of being was inspiring. Students' learning experiences centred around Indigenous knowledge: They learned about local Indigenous Veterans, they went on a field trip to Semá:th First Nation to learn how to fillet and smoke Salmon, and they learned about Indigenous art from Indigenous artists and then shared it with younger students.

The quotes from the students remind me of what students are craving from their educational experiences. A big thank you to our Indigenous Department staff, Darlene MacDonald, teachers, the transportation department, the custodial department, and Constable Neil Cole who were able to support this work over spring break.

“I love being able to smudge every day and start my day off on a positive note.”

“I feel acknowledged and love learning about all the different Indigenous people and more about my own culture.”

“For me being able to take one day at a time and have a safe space to get my work done has really helped me.”

"I really appreciated having breakfast and food when we needed it. I like working with Elders.”

Lastly, watch a video created on our field trip day in partnership with members of Semá:th First Nation, Fraser Health and the Sts’elemeqw Residential School Thrivers Society.

Indigenous Education Department