West Kelowna school in spot­light for In­dige­nous stud­ies

Mount Boucherie Se­condary pro­gram earns lo­cal school dis­trict na­tional award

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA PEA­COCK

AWest Kelowna high school has been rec­og­nized for hav­ing the best In­dige­nous high school pro­gram in Canada.

Mount Boucherie Se­condary School’s pro­gram stands out be­cause of the in­no­va­tive way it has em­bed­ded In­dige­nous stud­ies in its cur­ricu­lum, said Sean Les­sard, with EdCan Net­work, the pre­sen­ter of the award.

“What I re­ally love is they’ve gained trac­tion with not only the In­dige­nous stu­dents here, but (also) non-In­dige­nous stu­dents,” he said. “When we looked at the statis­tics, there were a num­ber of non-In­dige­nous stu­dents say­ing this mat­ters and this is im­por­tant. It builds those re­la­tion­ships be­tween our In­dige­nous and nonIndige­nous com­mu­nity.”

Classes in In­dige­nous his­tory, lit­er­a­ture, lead­er­ship, cul­ture, art and Okana­gan lan­guage are of­fered to stu­dents in Grades 10 to 12.

“Our academy con­nects ed­u­ca­tors in­ter­ested in de­col­o­niz­ing our ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem for all stu­dents,” said Kyla Wi­na­cott, teamer of In­dige­nous lead­er­ship at Mount Boucherie Se­condary. “If we’re able to come to­gether and al­low our stu­dents to feel val­ued, hope­ful and wor­thy, we can help them see grad­u­a­tion as a mean­ing­ful path­way to a con­fi­dent fu­ture.”

Mount Boucherie raised the high school grad­u­a­tion rate for In­dige­nous stu­dents from 55 per cent in 2011 to 78 per cent in 2017, the high­est six-year In­dige­nous com­ple­tion rate in the province.

Cur­rently, there are 45 Grade 12 stu­dents of Abo­rig­i­nal de­scent at Mount Boucherie Se­condary.

“I am very con­fi­dent as the prin­ci­pal of Mount Boucherie Se­condary that in June, at grad­u­a­tion, I am go­ing to shake the hands of all 45 of those stu­dents,” said Rac­quel Steen.

Along with be­ing named as hav­ing the best In­dige­nous high school pro­gram in Canada for 2017, the Cen­tral Okana­gan school dis­trict re­ceived $5,000 to use to ex­pand the pro­gram.

Pro­gram lead­ers this week will share in­for­ma­tion with an EdCan re­searcher, who will then pro­duce a case study re­port that will pro­vide guide­lines about In­dige­nous ed­u­ca­tion for other schools across Canada.

“They’re re­ally har­vest­ing some un­be­liev­able re­sults,” Les­sard said of the lo­cal pro­gram.

GARY NYLANDER/The Daily Courier

Academy of In­dige­nous Stud­ies lead­er­ship stu­dents per­form The Okana­gan Song Mon­day at Mount Boucherie Se­condary School in West Kelowna. MBSS has been rec­og­nized for rais­ing the high school grad­u­a­tion rate for In­dige­nous stu­dents from 55 per cent in 2011 to 78 per cent in 2017.

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