Yukon lays groundwork to establish First Nations school board: officials

·2 min read

WHITEHORSE — Yukon education officials say they have finalized an agreement that paves the way for the creation of a First Nations school board in the territory.

Education Minister Jeanie McLean said Thursday the eventual establishment of a First Nations school board would give Indigenous people more control and authority over the education of their children.

McLean said the agreement doesn't create the board, but sets out the process and framework for it within the current public Yukon education system.

The agreement, signed by 10 of the 14 Yukon First Nations, establishes the structure, authorities and responsibilities of the proposed First Nation School Board, she added.

McLean said the remaining four First Nation will be able to join the agreement if they choose at a later date.

The board will have the authority to hire staff, review and modify school plans, and request that an education program be provided in an Indigenous language.

All Yukon students will be allowed at a school run by the First Nation board.

Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, the chairman of the chiefs committee on education, said the model proposed includes having elders in the classroom, family- and community-led language revitalization and assessments other than report cards.

"As we know, our lands and our animals and our plants are our greatest teachers. Removing our children who have historically grown up on the land and putting them under fluorescent lights is not conducive to the best ways of learning," he said.

After more than a century of fighting to reclaim authority over education for their children, Tizya-Tramm said they are proudly taking the giant step forward in the creation of the board.

McLean said officials have no timeline for the establishment of the school board because a number of steps first need to be taken.

The Toronto District School Board offers Indigenous education "with the goal of closing the opportunity gap." Its website says the mandate infuses Indigenous perspectives across the curriculum for all students.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2021.

The Canadian Press