Abbotsford Weaves Aboriginal Culture Into Agreement

By February 19, 2015Issues

After two years of dedicated consultation and dialogue, the Abbotsford school district has signed their second Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement.

The district’s longstanding Aboriginal Advisory Committee includes
representation from the Sumas First Nation, Matsqui First Nation,
Stó:loNation, the Fraser Valley Metis Association and the Fraser Valley
Aboriginal Children and Families Services Society. The committee is
focused on holistic student development – academically, culturally and

“Abbotsford school district has achieved some encouraging results as a
consequence of our first Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement. Our Aboriginal
students perform considerably higher than the provincial average for
school completion, and we have realized positive gains in reading
achievement, sense of belonging, and cultural pride. This is no doubt the
result of the work of our dedicated staff, and the strength of the
partnerships we have fostered with our Aboriginal communities. We remain
committed to even greater levels of achievement, and the goals within
this new agreement will provide a roadmap for the continued success of
Aboriginal students in our district.” –Cindy Schafer, Abbotsford board chair

An Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement is a commitment by school
districts, local Aboriginal communities, and the Ministry of Education,
to work together to support Aboriginal student success.

District programs place emphasis on supporting student’s individual
needs. Grade one students receive literacy kits to help them read at home
and every middle and secondary school has a dedicated Aboriginal support

In support of the agreement, family gatherings are held regularly at the
local Aboriginal centre. Over dinner, families experience a non-
threatening space to talk about their children’s academic success. They
can also access health screenings, immunizations and library services –
all provided by community partners.

“Abbotsford’s second agreement not only strengthens the positive work
they’ve accomplished in the past, but emphasizes their commitment to
Aboriginal language and culture for years to come.” – Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education

Abbotsford is the third most ethnically diverse community in Canada. The
Sumas and Matsqui First Nations communities both fall within the
district’s catchment area. The district also recognizes the Stó:lo
people, placing special emphasis on Halqemeylem language education.

In the past five years, the six-year completion rate for Aboriginal
students in Abbotsford has increased from 61% in 2009-10 to 75% in 2013-
14. The provincial six-year completion rate has climbed to a record high
of 62%.

Quick Facts:

* The Abbotsford school district recognizes and acknowledges the
traditional territories of the Sumas and Matsqui First Nations.
* The district has an Aboriginal student population of 2,145 which
represents 11% of the total number of students in the district.
* The district signed their first agreement in 2007.
* Provincial funding for Aboriginal education in the B.C. public K-12
school system is $64.1 million for the 2014-15 school year, more than
$1,160 per student.

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