School District #23 Indigenous Education
The Academy of Indigenous Studies is a ‘learning community’ within Mount Boucherie Secondary School, a part
of Central Okanagan Public Schools (B.C. School District 23), in West Kelowna, B.C. This learning community
offers a 20-credit high school study track available to both Indigenous* and non-Indigenous students, which
includes courses in Indigenous history, literature, leadership, culture, art, and Okanagan language, and is
available to students of all grade levels.
The Academy’s course content is transmitted through a pan-Canadian
Indigenous lens – integrating Indigenous Worldviews, paradigms, and perspectives from across Canada – as well
as through the lens and protocols of local Okanagan First Nations communities. Leveraging key initiatives put
in place by B.C.’s Ministry of Education, the program integrates students and course delivery within a learning
community, or a network, surrounded by the support of Indigenous teachers, Aboriginal Advocates or Support
Workers, and Aboriginal Tutors. The vision for the program – and that of the district’s Indigenous education
policies – is co-created with local First Nations through Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements (EAs)
and an Aboriginal Education Council (AEC).
The program was a response to high rates of Indigenous student
disengagement and dropout. Student cohorts past and present have traditionally had low attendance rates, low
levels of achievement, and experience a variety of challenges including neglect, substance addiction, abuse,
disconnection from their language and culture, subjection to stereotypes, and a multitude of inter-generational
traumas resulting from the abuses endured by family members who were placed in residential schools. The
Academy of Indigenous Studies, and other initiatives led by the school district, have succeeded in raising the
high school graduation rate for Indigenous students from 66% in 2012/13 to 77% in 2016/17. The program is
expanding to meet the needs of Central Okanagan Public Schools’ over 2,000 Indigenous learners.
Indigenous Student Advocates
The advocates provide a wide range of support for our Indigenous students. The following is a small portion of the type of support they can offer.
- Provide emotional, social, academic, behavioral & cultural support to students
- Liaise between home and school
- Work closely with teachers and other personnel to plan effectively for students.
- Help students with goal setting and career planning
- Monitor attendance Indigenous students and facilitate improvement
Indigenous Support Teachers
Using the foundations of the Seven Teachings and the quadrants of the medicine wheel, our support teachers are highly skilled in both humanities, and math & science. Both Ms. Wilde and Ms. White have built strong relationships with our indigenous students and will continue to provide one on one coaching and support.