Decolonizing is both a question and an interest for the region's District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC). School District 57 staff were invited to a DPAC meeting that was set up differently than most, in an attempt to get a feel for the topic at hand.
Instead of the usual Robert's Rules of Order style of meeting, SD57 staff were treated to an outdoor circle in the sunshine, utilizing the gathering space recently installed at Ecole Lac des Bois at the corner of Ospika Boulevard and Rainbow Drive. Instead of a formal agenda, it was a discussion circle that began with a welcome from DPAC chair Laura Weller and moved to the left, as is the Dakelh custom of the Lheitli T'enneh First Nation, on whose unceded lands the meeting was held.
The SD57 contingent included trustees Sharel Warrington and Ron Polillo, plus superintendent Cindy Heitman, Indigenous assistant superintendent Pam Spooner, Indigenous Education vice-principal Jennifer Pighin, and land-based teacher Kelsey MacDonald. The staff took turns explaining how Indigenous content was being introduced into the school district's curricula, how teaching methods were changing from exclusively European-based industrial structures to more organic ones that reflected the successful learning systems of Indigenous cultures, and there were also songs and stories for all to take part in.
The DPAC parents had a number of questions and comments. It was a chance for families and educators to dialogue productively about how Indigenous content and inclusion was bringing unprecedented levels of local authenticity to students, allowing Indigenous learners to see themselves reflected in daily life, in ways that enhanced the overall education experience for all.
SD57's staff were proud and thankful to take part in this first-of-its-kind DPAC meeting and hear such encouragement and understanding from these important contacts with the district's parent community. Several children were also present, helping everyone keep in mind who we were all striving for.