By Michael Oleksyn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division school board will begin meetings representatives from nearby First Nations later this year.
The board already meets with local rural municipalities, and education director Robert Bratvold said these meetings would be similar. He said they would not replace the elders council, but are part of their outreach efforts on truth and reconciliation.
“It’s true meeting with our First Nations representatives from Chief and Council to who they think is most appropriate to connect with on our school board,” Bratvold explained. “It’s not to replace the Elder’s Council and it’s not to replace the work we do on Truth and Reconciliation. It is certainly connected to reconciliation but it is also about governance, connection and relationships with all of our different levels of government.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity,” he added. “We are a local government, they are a sovereign First Nation, so there is a government connection there.”
The board hopes to begin discussions with First Nations leaders in April. Even though many local First Nation communities do not have a Sask. Rivers school, Bratvold said it’s common for those communities to have a few children attending school in Prince Albert.
“We know that many of our First Nations have schools on reserve and they provide great education,” he explained. “Some of their students will come to our schools and so there is room for plenty of conversation around that.
“There is also opportunity for conversation for the broader topic about education: the value and the focus and the purpose and what we can learn for each other around educating our students,” he added. “I hope there is some interest and maybe some exciting possibilities with that.”
According to the 2020-21 Sask. Rivers annual report, the division has 4,653 self-identified Indigenous students, roughly 1,500 of which are in Grades 10-12. The report shows 8,345 students in Sask. Rivers schools.
Michael Oleksyn is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the
PRINCE ALBERT DAILY HERALD. The LJI program is federally funded.