School District 57 chair Trent Derrick says the board’s support of a request to add two indigenous seats to the board is simply the start of the process.
In addition, the final decision on the request from Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake Indian Band rests with the minister of education, not the school board.
“We’re just offering a letter of support for the two First Nations in their process to elect two trustees,” he said Wednesday. “It’s important to note that it’s their process on a nation-to-nation and government-to-government basis. It’s out of our mandate because we don’t have the authority or the ability to change the School Act or the Election Act … It’s above us and it’s just to support their rights which are stated in Bill 41 the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People.”
Four years ago the previous board refused to support a bid by residents of Mackenzie and the Robson Valley to have specific representation on the board. They were overruled by the minister and the two areas now have specific representation.
The Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake Indian Band request is to increase the size of the board from seven to nine trustees with one of the two new board members to come from Lheidli T’enneh and the other from McLeod Lake Indian Band.
The approved motion from the meeting reads as follows:
That the Board of Education write a letter of support to the Lheidli T’enneh Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band regarding their request for the addition of two Indigenous trustees, one elected to represent the McLeod Lake Indian Band and the other elected to represent the Lheidli T’enneh Nation on the School District No. 57 (Prince George) Board of Education and that the Letter of Support include the following:
- The board recognizes the strong support received from a number of Indigenous and other community organizations regarding the joint request from Lheidli T’enneh Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band.
- The board acknowledges that it is not within the mandate of the Board of Education to change the School Act, BC Elections Act or any other legislative process.
- The board recognizes that jurisdiction to make the requested changes lies with the provincial government.
- The board supports the government-to-government relationship between Indigenous First Nations and the Provincial Government as stated in Bill 41 and acknowledges the right of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band to move forward their request to the provincial government.