West Kelowna school in spotlight for Indigenous studies
Mount Boucherie Secondary program earns local school district national award
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.
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.