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RVS Indigenous Education Branch expected to launch in September

Rocky View Schools' new Indigenous Education Branch will work with individual schools across the division to identify the support they need.
Rocky View Schools will introduce a new dual credit program with SAIT next year.
Rocky View Schools will launch their new Indigenous Education Branch in the coming school year.

Rocky View Schools is taking steps to support its Indigenous students, teachers, and staff with the creation of an Indigenous Education Branch for the upcoming school year.

The creation of the branch was one of the public school division’s goals, members of the Board of Trustees said during their May 26 board meeting, and they anticipate the branch to be up and running by the start of the 2022-23 school year in September.

According to RVS Superintendent Greg Luterbach, a lot of work on applying the foundation of knowledge about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples’ traditions and experiences is already happening in schools throughout the division.

“One of the comments that we've been hearing over the last little bit was a desire for some dedicated support in this area,” Luterbach said. “We've been providing support but not by a dedicated team. [It was] coming from different people in different roles and I think we felt strongly this was the right time to be able to dedicate some targeted resources to help the schools move the reconciliation efforts forward.”

Some neighbouring school divisions have teams providing that support, and through discussions with them about their experiences, RVS is trying to learn how to put forth their own branch, Luterbach added.

The branch will identify resources available to accurately reflect and demonstrate the strengths and diversity of the traditions and experiences of Indigenous people.

The branch will consist of a small team of three staff members to start, Luterbach explained. 

Two of the members were already RVS staff members and are shifting over from different departments, including one member who has worked directly with schools and families to support and ensure students have what they need to be able to attend school successfully. The other employee shifting over to the branch is a learning specialist who already showed passion in this area, according to Luterbach.

The final spot to be filled in the new branch is a director, which was posted on job boards and being advertised as of June 2. The director will be the hands-on active leader for the department, Luterbach said.

“As a new team, they will build their own resource bank and then go out to schools,” he said. 

The superintendent noted it’s important for the branch members to spend some time at every school to listen and ask about the things they need.

“There are lots of questions around strong and valuable, accurate resources and that will be one of the earlier tasks – identifying and building that bank of tools for schools to use,” Luterbach said.

Some of those tools will come from working with local First Nations groups, building protocols, ensuring when elders are brought into the classrooms that it’s done respectfully, and building relationships with local Indigenous people in the community. Once those first steps have been taken, the branch can work with schools directly and figure out what is the best way to provide support.

The branch is supported by provincial government funding allocated toward creating resources that will benefit all students,” Luterbach added. 

“That is what we really looked at – is how can we take those dollars and maximize those dollars – and we think this is the way to do it,” he said.

The branch will have a budget of $402,000, which is the exact amount of the funds received by RVS for this purpose from Alberta Education.