The governance structure of the BCSTA includes several standing committees established to consider the organization’s business in specific areas and to provide recommendations to the Board of Directors. The committees also provide members with opportunities to engage directly in BCSTA work and to provide perspectives from the membership.
BCSTA standing committees are formed by resolution on the AGM floor. Membership in, and terms of reference for, these committees is governed by bylaw. Current standing committees include:
- Credentials Committee
- Finance and Audit Committee
- Indigenous Education Committee
- Legislative Committee, and
- Professional Learning Committee.
This month we are going to profile the work of the Indigenous Education Committee.
The BCSTA has a strong set of beliefs about Indigenous Education:
As outlined in the Policy Book, the BCSTA:
- respects the heritage, histories, and cultures of Indigenous people;
- encourages and promotes active participation of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of the public education system of British Columbia;
- supports the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives within the broader curriculum; and
- supports initiatives and programs that will ensure the survival and revitalization of First Nations’ languages in British Columbia.
In the context of these beliefs, the Indigenous Education Committee has a very important role.
Roles and Responsibility
The Indigenous Education Committee (IEC) was renamed at the 2018 BCSTA Annual Meeting to reflect current accepted language. Formerly the Aboriginal Education Committee, the work of the group continues to build on past success and hard work. The duties of the Committee are:
- to represent the interests of Boards of Education in Indigenous education matters in cooperation and liaison with Indigenous groups;
- to heighten knowledge, awareness and understanding of Indigenous values, cultures and perspectives in the education system in order to enhance learning;
- to disseminate information to relevant constituent groups, in order to foster an atmosphere that will promote dialogue at the local level between boards of education and Indigenous communities;
- to identify and address issues related to provincial policy and implementation processes that have an impact on Aboriginal education; and
- to develop recommendations on Aboriginal education matters, including consideration of funding implications, for action by the Professional Learning Committee, Provincial Council and/or Board of Directors, as appropriate.
The mandate of the Committee is understood to encompass issues affecting the education of all students who declare their Indigenous descent.
The Committee stays alert to potential issues with provincial policy and implementation, and keeping members up to date. It develops recommendations on Indigenous education matters for action by BCSTA.
Success of Committee Work
The IEC has many concrete examples of work that reflects its responsibilities. The Committee is currently reviewing the BCSTA Terms of Reference for the Committee, supporting the work of the Professional Learning Committee including implementation of the Learning Guide for Trustees and Boards, supporting Boards on their journeys to reconciliation, as well as developing a “Best Practices” guide for Indigenous Education for Boards.
The IEC annually meets jointly with the Professional Learning Committee and contributes to the development of educational programs for members that centre on Indigenous learning. One example was the 2017 National Gathering for Trustees on Aboriginal Education in July at Whistler. Not only was there an excellent program of speakers for participants, but the Committee members collaborated with the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), the Ministry of Education, and the BC Principal and Vice-Principals Association to have tables of resources available. The members of the Committee took the opportunity to share their work with other trustees across the country. In the past they supported the 2012 Aboriginal-themed BCSTA Annual General Meeting, the 2013 Aboriginal Education Committee Survey, and the 2014 National Aboriginal Trustees Gathering. They have been key in the BCSTA using a Territory Acknowledgement at all events. They provide recommendations for Indigenous keynote and workshop speakers for all BCSTA educational events. They have established a positive relationship with the First Nations Education Steering Committee in BC (FNESC) and the Ministry of Education, Aboriginal Education Department.
Over the last years, the IEC has submitted many motions to the AGM that have been approved by the membership. Some examples include requests to the Ministry of Education to create a senior leadership position for Indigenous Education, to increase targeted funding, to provide continuous access to In-Service for teachers, to develop resources for teachers in training. They have advocated for the First Peoples Course to be included in graduation requirements, for improved funding for Community Link and language curriculum, and they promoted support for actions from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- Annually the BCSTA solicits interest from the membership for participation on a variety of committees. Following the Annual General Meeting, the President considers requests submitted by volunteers and factors such as geographical representation, continuity, and renewal, and appoints membership to committees accordingly. As outlined in the BCSTA bylaws, the Members of the Indigenous Education Committee are appointed by the President within thirty (30) days of the President assuming office. The Committee consists of nine voting members, one of whom is a member of the Board of Directors. Current IEC Members are:
Cyndi Gerlach Co-Chair SD 44 North Vancouver
Rick McKamey Co-Chair SD 74 Mission
Tim Bennett BCSTA Director SD 57 Prince George
Erin Evans SD 60 Peace River North
Larry Ransom SD 70 Alberni
Alvin Azak SD 92 Nisga’a
Frank Johnson SD 49 Central Coast
Nancy Rempel SD 74 Gold Trail
Rebecca Barley SD 48 Sea to Sky
In 2018, the BCSTA Board of Directors approved a change in the structure of the IEC. The Committee had requested that instead of having a Chair and Vice-Chair, there be two Co-Chairs. This was to ensure that at least one of the Co-Chairs be Indigenous and would be more in keeping with the values of the Committee. The Co-Chairs are elected annually at the committee’s inaugural meeting. Cyndi Gerlach, one of the current Co-Chairs says that it has “been an honour to be part of the IEC Committee these last three years and supporting Boards of Education in their journey with Truth and Reconciliation. Some of my highlights have been speaking with students and hearing how the changes we are making are impacting their education and their lives, as well as having frank, open honest conversations with trustees on what Truth and Reconciliation means both as an Indigenous trustee and a non-Indigenous trustee.“
The Committee meets in advance of meetings of the Association’s Provincial Council; in advance of general meetings; during general meetings; or, at the call of the Chair. It typically meets in person in advance of general meetings and during general meetings and conducts other meetings remotely.
The Committee reports to the Board of Directors. The Board’s Committee liaison serves to keep the Board of Directors apprised of the Committee’s work.
The Committee delivers oral reports to Provincial Council and the Annual General Meeting. The Committee also submits an annual written report to the membership. Matt Taylor, Manager, Information Technology, provides support to the Committee.