Q#1: What is the purpose for having Indigenous Education Gathering rooms in every school?
A: Every school must have a space for the Indigenous Education program and the Indigenous Advocate that is assigned to that school. These spaces provide opportunities for learning, a sense of belonging and pride for Indigenous students by having an area to connect with other Indigenous students, and room for our Advocates to enhance programming at the Intellectual, Physical, Spiritual and Emotional levels for each student. The Gathering Rooms are not to be used as extra classroom space or for lunch programs that provide for the entire school. Indigenous Advocates are only responsible to distribute lunches to Indigenous students who are on the lunch program.
Q#2: I have a Breakfast Club and a Homework Club at my school. All students are welcome and both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students attend. Can I have the school Advocate run these programs?
A: Yes, as long as the Advocate is not the sole person running the Club. If non-Indigenous students are attending, there needs to be someone alongside the Advocate to provide assistance.
Q#3: Some of our Indigenous students arrive at school without the necessary school supplies to do their work. Can the Advocates or your department provide the supplies to the students?
A: The school needs to provide the basic support and services to students. The Advocates and the cultural department are to provide supplemental (over and above) support. Basic school supplies would be the responsibility of the schools and not the Advocates.
Q#4: Who is an Indigenous student?
A: Indigenous ancestry is determined on a voluntary basis through self-identification of Indigenous Ancestry (First Nations, status and non-status; Métis; and Inuit) by the student, parent or guardian - not Bands or district staff.
Q#5: Why do we acknowledge traditional territory?
Please use the following statement when welcoming your students and families into your school:
Acknowledging Traditional Territory
"We would like to acknowledge that we are on the Traditional Territory of the Okanagan syilx Peoples."
*Acknowledging territory is a way of honouring and showing respect for a group of people who have been living and working on this land from time immemorial.
* The only people who would Welcome to the territory are the First Nations people who are traditionally/originally from that territory. The majority of school district personnel likely would Acknowledge Territory.
* An Acknowledging is usually the first item on the agenda. (If you forget, just quickly acknowledge then and don't worry about it).
*For very large events, it is always respectful to have a member of the local First Nation, preferably an Elder, perform a welcome, if possible. This would require an honourarium to be given to this person, to acknowledge his or her knowledge and respect for the community.
***Note: The Okanagan Song is the Okanagan Nation's Anthem and is often sung alongside O Canada in larger assemblies.