The School District 57 board should increase in size and change in composition, according to the Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake Indian Band.
Lheidli T’enneh Chief Clay Pountney and McLeod Lake Indian Band Chief Harley Chingee yesterday ‘served notice’ to the district that they ‘expect’ the board to support a call to support the addition of two Indigenous members to the board, increasing it from the current seven members to nine. One of the new members would be from Lheidli T’enneh and one from McLeod Lake.
Last year the Lheidli T’enneh tried, on its own, to get a seat on the board, but those attempts, so far, have come up empty.
“We’ve had a lot of hurdles to go through,” Pountney said of the attempt to get a seat on the board. “We just need this to happen for the betterment of our kids. We always need a say.”
He pointed to the fact Indigenous graduation rates, especially on reserves, are traditionally lower.
“We need a say, we need a voice, and not an advisory committee voice,” said Pountney.
Chingee called the move a ‘true’ partnership between the McLeod Lake Indian Band and Lheidli T’enneh.
“If we have a voice at the board level that helps our education of our youth and our people,” said Chingee. “Our students have for too long been second class citizens in the public school system. We have gone from being wards of the state to wards of the school system.
The two point to the fact that prior to the last board election the province granted requests from the Robson Valley communities and Mackenzie to have specific representation on the board. The board, at that time, opposed moving to a regional representation model.
Pountney said the trustees would be elected from within the bands themselves.