Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

INKING THE ACCORD – Kwanlin Dün First Nation Chief Doris Bill (left) and Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee sign the education agreement Tuesday in Whitehorse.

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

CELEBRATING THE SIGNING – Kwanlin Dün First Nation Chief Doris Bill (left) and Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee embrace after signing the education agreement Tuesday in Whitehorse.

First Nation, YG sign education accord

The Yukon government and the Kwanlin Dün First Nation have signed a three-year education agreement that should benefit Indigenous learners.

By Gord Fortin on July 11, 2019

The Yukon government and the Kwanlin Dün First Nation have signed a three-year education agreement that should benefit Indigenous learners.

The pact would see an investment of $681,465 over the three years.

During Tuesday’s media briefing on the agreement, no breakdown was provided to the media as to how much was contributed by each party.

The funding is meant to cover the new positions of a cultural educator, agreement manager and tutor.

The agreement is designed to improve the education outcomes for First Nations students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

It was officially signed by Kwanlin Dün Chief Doris Bill and Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

Bill said she was excited by this agreement. It comes as a result of three years of negotiations with the territory.

She explained that First Nations youth learn from experience and their surroundings.

“The Yukon is our school,” Bill said.

Both parties agreed to shared priorities and will work on these together, she added. This includes developing appropriate curricula for students as well as project First Nations language rights.

“This agreement is a significant step in that direction,” Bill said.

She explained that students will experience more unique learning opportunities. It will expose Indigenous students more to Tutchone culture.

She added Kwanlin Dün will be further involved at the decision-making level in education.

She said Southern Tutchone has shaped Kwanlin Dün for generations. The government and First Nation will be researching about a primary-level culture language program.

She said this is momentous as Kwanlin Dün’s language is in a fragile state. She is enthusiastic about this new chapter.

The longstanding tutoring program will continue with funding for the next three years.

Parents will have access to additional resources and information. This should allow parents to be better informed on their children’s progress and education opportunities available.

One key change Bill pointed to was the creation of the cultural educator.

The person in this role will focus on the schools in Kwanlin Dün’s territory that have the highest population of its students.

These include F.H. Collins and Porter Creek Secondary Schools, Elijah Smith Elementary School and the Independent Learning Centre.

“This position will provide interactive and hands-on learning opportunities in adding cultural support to KDFN (Kwanlin Dün) students,” Bill said.

This person will also work with the community while monitoring culture and language programs. The position will exist in and out of schools. He or she will give input to teachers.

Kwanlin Dün will be involved in the hiring for this position as well as evaluation of school staff and administration.

Bill said Kwanlin Dün will be creating a position in its House of Learning. The individual in this role will ensure the agreement is implemented as intended.

Both governments will be entering an intergovernmental data-sharing agreement. This should help improve co-ordination for activities.

Bill thanked everyone from both governments to make this agreement a reality.

McPhee said this pact should improve the outcomes for Kwanlin Dün students. She added that First Nation governments are essential partners in education, especially with teaching language and culture.

She said this agreement shows the government’s commitment to reconciliation.

“I am truly honoured to sign this agreement,” McPhee said.

This is the sixth agreement the territory has signed with a Yukon First Nation government. She said the government is willing and interested to sign more arrangements with other First Nations with regard to education.

Each agreement is unique to the issue facing the specific First Nation in question.

McPhee touched on the shared priorities of the two governments.

These are to improve how the government works with Kwanlin Dün, support student achievement and include language and culture education.

“This education project reflects the three joint priorities of YG and KDFN governments,” McPhee said.

She looks forward to working with the First Nation on this. She added that Yukon students will be thankful for the educational opportunities ahead.

Both Bill and McPhee believe this agreement could help rectify the issues in First Nation education that were identified in the recent Auditor General’s audit.

Bill said the educational status quo is not acceptable. One of the Auditor General’s points was a call for better information-sharing between First Nations and the territory.

The chief feels the agreement should help shine light on barriers in Indigenous education. This would make the barriers easier to spot and help remove them.

Overall, she hoped this would help change the picture reflected in the audit.

McPhee agreed. She said she was not surprised with the audit’s results. It identified issues and the government was aware of. She said both governments are working diligently to address these issues.

She explained that the agreement would improve the relations between the two governments.

She emphasized that the end goal is to have successful students.

McPhee added the agreement will most likely be extended in three years, as the government wants it to be long-term.

Comments (5)

Up 13 Down 3

Yukonmax on Jul 15, 2019 at 8:47 am

"measurement to evaluate student performance". Some other form of funding extended to First Nation, are not subject to any kind of evaluation prior approving for more funding for the same individuals. C.R.T.F.

Up 23 Down 5

Groucho d'North on Jul 12, 2019 at 9:49 am

Well and good if this is what will help these students to graduate high school and be ready to live productive employable lives. I hope there will be some form of measurement to evaluate student performance so that attention to the three Rs is not lost to cultural history class time. Remember this is about the future well being of FN school students and not the many wrinkles of reconciliation and the associated political maneuvering.
.

Up 40 Down 4

Seth Wright on Jul 12, 2019 at 1:17 am

The Yukon Territory - Where intelligence is a disability...

Up 10 Down 6

Just saying on Jul 11, 2019 at 11:26 pm

Congrats to both who have signed but don't get to happy KDFN because if this works the government will take it away as fast as they give. Just remember what works for a FN they don't like as in the past employment centre. Also another job creation for another ex-employee of the government of the Yukon or Canada. Just saying.

Up 64 Down 9

I Really hope this doesn't mean what I think it does on Jul 11, 2019 at 2:57 pm

"Kwanlin Dün will be involved in the hiring for this position as well as evaluation of school staff and administration." For a language position sure I can see this but why on earth would KD have any input into school staff and administration?

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