The Indigenous-focused professional development day is a very positive step towards addressing the gap in educational outcomes between First Nation students and non-First Nation students, and represents an opportunity for building relationships and advancing reconciliation, consistent with both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The new Indigenous-focused professional development day is also directly linked to the newly-added Standard 9 of the Professional Standards for BC Educators. The Professional Standards were developed by the BC Teachers’ Council and they outline the conduct and competence requirements for an individual to maintain a BC teaching certificate of qualification, as well as guide teacher education and ongoing professional growth. Standard 9 addresses the role of educators in the truth, reconciliation, and healing process and carries with it the expectation that educators will commit to integrating the worldviews, cultures, and histories of Indigenous peoples into BC learning environments.
We want to ensure that this opportunity is as impactful as possible. To this end, it is important that local First Nations be involved in all aspects of the planning of this professional development opportunity, so that curriculum, materials, and learning teachers receive meaningfully reflects the cultures, values, languages, and traditions of local First Nations.
While it is the responsibility of school districts to take initiative in reaching out to First Nations, we also suggest that First Nations be proactive in contacting their senior school district leadership about this non-instructional day to discuss how they can be involved in the planning.