Superintendent’s Update

Posted On Friday May 19, 2023

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

We have been highlighting stories about connections/relationships and the Grandfather Teaching of Courage in the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan. This past week, we welcomed over 100 students and staff from eleven districts at TRU to take part in the first annual Indigenous Student Summit through the leadership of District Principal Mike Bowden of Aboriginal Education.

OMRIE Indigenous Student Summit at TRU – May 16, 2023

Staff and students from SD73 (Kamloops-Thompson), SD53 (Okanagan Similkameen), SD19 (Revelstoke), SD67 (Okanagan Skaha), SD22 (Vernon), SD23 (Central Okanagan), SD74 (Gold Trail), SD58 (Nicola-Similkameen), SD83 (North Okanagan Shuswap), SD8 (Kootenay Lake), and SD93 (Conseil Scolaire Francophone) joined together to celebrate at the Thompson Rivers University House of Learning designed with traditional logs to mirror a traditional pithouse. In this graduated semi-circle, where the ambiance had a golden hue of being surrounded and encompassed in a wooden glow. Students, staff, and guests ate breakfast and then congregated in their school district banners and left the pithouse to enter dancing and singing as they took part in the welcome ceremony to the drumming coming from the center of this gathering space.

Elder Freda Jules welcomed everyone to the traditional territory of the Secwepemc peoples, specifically Tk'emlúps the Secwe?pemc Nation. Following the land acknowledgement, District Principal Bowden, introduced SD73 student Ava Jules, who shared a beautiful prayer in Secwepemctsin. Elder Freda Jules welcomed everyone to the territory and shared her teachings about paying attention to stories shared during the day. Superintendent Rhonda Nixon echoed the words of Elder Joan Arnouse about “the hearthfire” or “the flame” at the centre of the Kamloops-Thompson District Strategic Plan reminding those in attendance to attend to “the childlike spirit within each of us” that is enlivened by coming together in community to focus on the agenda set by issues of importance to Indigenous youth – Anti-Indigenous Racism, Indigenous Culture in Schools, and Indigenous Student Health and Well-Being. To learn about these issues, District Principal Bowden drew on the importance of learning from the voices of those who have had lived experiences, and he cited Autumn Peltier, Anishnabek Nation: “One day I will be an ancestor and I want my descendants to know that I used my voice so that they could have a future.”                         

He introduced Mr. Greg Hopf who was born and raised in the Northwest Territories (NWT) and who shared that he has spent his life from one family home to another because his mother had struggled with addictions. He attributed his current success as a successful business man as learning to be brave and to trust that the ideas and traditional knowledge that he has developed has served him well. He asked that each student trust themselves, and value what is between their ears, their local and personal knowledge and histories.

After learning from Mr. Hopf to trust and to try, and importantly, to be brave, students went into focus groups to learn more about each of the agenda items and to share barriers to success and ways to move forward as next steps. After the students worked in groups and discussed Indigenous youth– Anti-Indigenous Racism, Indigenous Culture in Schools, and Indigenous Student Health and Well-Being, students shared their insights. I appreciated their insights about key themes discerned from their discussions, and one insight that struck me was:  Student voice won’t fix the problems entirely, but it will make our education system more inclusive. Read more.

My Consenting Self Art Exhibition

Thank you to everyone who participated in and celebrated the conclusion of the Consent Café Pilot program by attending “My Consenting Self Art Exhibition Opening Night”. The exhibition showed  SD73 students’ learning and thoughts about consent and sexualized violence prevention and response, and illuminated their courage. We are very appreciative of Chelsea Corsi and Tanya Pawliuk, Consent Café Co-founders, for their work with SD73, and for the work of the mentors who helped facilitate the Consent Cafés. The pilot program involved grade 8 students in all schools.

Exploring Math and Art in Nature at McQueen Lake Education Centre 

In the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan, solving numeracy problems in a variety of contexts is a foundational skill in the Intellectual Development Priority. On Friday, May 5, 2023, District Coordinator of Numeracy, Monica Bergeron and District Coordinator of Arts Education, Janet McCloy, joined two classes from David Thompson Elementary in the day use area of McQueen Lake. Read more.

Thank you for taking part and supporting this wonderful week of listening to students, viewing their artwork, and taking part in celebrating their brave responses to learning together about mature issues of importance to them. Stay safe and healthy this long weekend, and I hope that the air quality improves.

Rhonda Nixon, PhD


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