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TLDSB looking to build trust with and break down barriers or Indigenous students

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Trillium Lakelands District School Board is attempting to remove barriers to learning for their Indigenous students.

At a board meeting, on Tuesday, May 24th, Superintendent Jennifer Johnston provided trustees with an update on the board’s equity and inclusion efforts. Specifically, in her presentation, she discussed Indigenous education and the state of education for the board’s Indigenous students.

“We have an Indigenous education advisory committee, [which] we’ve been working with this year. We’ve had very open, honest, transparent conversations, [and have had] partners sharing with us the strengths of the system and areas for growth. In our partnership, we’re always striving to be better. Director [Wes] Hahn and I had an important opportunity this past winter to participate in a circle ceremony with our partners, where we listened and learned about the experiences at TLDSB,” Superintendent Johnston said.

Director of Education Wes Hahn stated, building trust with Indigenous students is one of the board’s biggest priorities in this field.

“Building trust with our Indigenous community is still very, very complicated. We heard a lot of very powerful stories, not necessarily negative towards us, but based on the fact trust doesn’t just happen. You have to earn it and build it, and we are still in the process of building and earning that trust,” he said.

Superintendent Johnston did note a couple of concerns, regarding education for local Indigenous students.

“We noticed, we have an overrepresentation of Indigenous students who are using IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) or having IEPs. We have a lot of questions and have to dive into them. We also noticed, there are differences when comparing Indigenous student credit accumulation to non-Indigenous student credit accumulation. So this poses questions for us about what barriers may exist.”

IEPs are specialized and personalized learning plans for students and are most often used for students who need additional learning supports or programs.

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