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Board Meetings

October 16, 2007

                                        BLUEWATER ABORIGINAL PROJECTS

Bluewater is committed to promoting high quality learning opportunities for Aboriginal students and recognizes the importance of developing supportive environments.  Various Bluewater proposals have been submitted for funding through Ministry of Education, CODE, and Student Success Lighthouse projects.  The projects are designed to promote the following:
•     Teaching strategies that are appropriate to Aboriginal learning needs
•     Curriculum that reflects Aboriginal cultures and perspectives
•     Effective counseling and outreach
•     School environments that encourage Aboriginal student, parent, and community engagement

Aboriginal Self-Identification Policy

The Bluewater District School Board puts all students first.  To help us determine how successful we are at providing for the needs of students it is necessary to measure how students are doing and to determine if appropriate programs are in place to support them.  Through this process it may be determined that some students require more support than others.

To learn more about the needs of Aboriginal students, Bluewater District School Board has adopted a policy that permits voluntary self-identification for Aboriginal students.  This self-identification policy will allow schools to collect data on how Aboriginal students are achieving, which is the first step towards improved achievement.

By collecting this data Bluewater District School Board continue to work toward:

•     Improved programming for Aboriginal students which will allow for improved secondary school graduation rates.
•     Additional funding from the provincial government that will provide additional support for Aboriginal students.
•     Identification of trends to improve the Board’s strategic planning process as it pertains to programming needs.

Aboriginal Advisor
Bluewater welcomes Ray Auger as an Aboriginal advisor to support our goals of Aboriginal student success.  Ray has already worked extensively with our Saugeen and Nawash communities.  He has successfully made positive connections with students, families, and staff.  In collaboration with Bluewater, Ray will be vital in bringing our communities together, building awareness and capacity to:
•     Support the development of learning environments that engage the Aboriginal learner
•     Improve communication with student, parents, and staff
•     Help parents support their children’s learning
•     Contribute to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for parents
•     Support the development of learning circles and alternative support programs

Aboriginal Student Transition Teacher and Support
In collaboration with school staff, Central Lead Teacher, and Aboriginal Advisor, the Aboriginal Student Transition Teacher will be vital in supporting students, staff, parents, and community to:
•     Improve transition periods for:
•     First Nation operated pre-school to Bluewater elementary school
•     First Nation operated elementary school to secondary schools
•     Bluewater elementary school to secondary schools
•     Increase communication and planning between parents, First Nation staff and Bluewater staff
•     Increase student’s comfort during transition times
A position has been created at both GC Huston and placePeninsula Shores that is similar to a contact teacher role, providing time each week for the transition teacher to focus on promoting aboriginal success.

Enjimshkoowendmaan  - Where My Mind is Strong
This Coop opportunity provides a program at Saugeen District Secondary School that will:
•     Support an increased sense of self esteem and confidence.
•     Include Native Studies courses that explore Aboriginal contributions to Canadian society.
•     Offer a variety of practical experiences.
•     Help to satisfy the compulsory credit requirements to qualify for graduation.
•     Provide an impetus towards completing their OSSD and entering the workforce, college or university.

Students have an opportunity in Semester 1 to enroll in 2 Native Studies courses in the morning and take part in a 2 credit Coop Program in the afternoon.  During Semester 2, the students would be placed in either a 4 credit Coop Program or another 2 credit Coop with 2 additional Native Studies courses. By the end of the year students enrolled in this program could earn 8 credits in total.

Phoenix Project
The placeCityPhoenix project is intended to provide a more positive transition experience for Cape Croker First Nation students entering high school by offering the following:

the same homeroom teacher all year for Grade 9 English and Math in the 1st period of the day and a 2nd period of Resource
provision of a late bus between Cape PlaceNameCroker and placePeninsula Shores in order to make extra-curricular activities (sports teams, and clubs) more available
offer grade 7 and 8 Cape PlaceNameCroker students the opportunity to join placePeninsula Shores students in music, gym and the technology centre.

Aboriginal Student Mentorship Project:  Together We Grow
In cooperation with Aboriginal communities and organizations, Together We Grow will foster Aboriginal students’ leadership skills.  By promoting Aboriginal mentors, students will be engaged to participate more actively in school.
•     Initiate an Aboriginal Youth Leadership Council
•     Connect Aboriginal Mentors with schools
•     Mentors visit schools to highlight the history and personal experiences of Aboriginal youth in schools
Regional Symposia:  Aboriginal Success Collaborative
It is important to increase the knowledge and understanding of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit cultures among all school staff.  Celebrating Aboriginal success and perspective in placeStateOntario will be important to supporting successful interactions between and among communities.
•     Bluewater will work closely with various communities and organizations to develop an Aboriginal Success symposium
•     Invite Boards that have had success with various Aboriginal initiatives to send workshop presenters
•     Workshops would be provided for various audiences (e.g., student, educator, community member)
•     District messages would be provided throughout the day ie., commitment to the Ontario First Nation, Metis, Inuit Education Policy Framework, progress with the Self Identification Policy, Aboriginal success stories)

Transitions Project: Aboriginal Student Success                           
Bluewater is continuing to help students make a smooth transition from schools in First Nation communities to provincially funded elementary and secondary schools.  It is important to promote appropriate placement, and make any necessary subsequent adjustments, for First Nation students with special education needs as they move between schools in First Nation communities and provincial school boards
•     Transition teams will be developed to:
        -       discuss support for grade 8 Aboriginal students in the development of an effective timetable in grade 9
        -       monitor grade 9 Aboriginal students to provide necessary adjustments to ensure success
        -       support the transition to provincially funded school system
•     Specialized transition materials will be purchased and/or developed to incorporate the Aboriginal perspective

Community Outreach Project: Character Development                           
It is important to recognize and promote Ojibwe language and traditional teachings – “Without the Language, the Heart of the People, a Nation Vanishes...”  Bluewater has the opportunity to provide access to Character Development initiative through Ojibwe.
•     In collaboration with our Aboriginal communities, Character Development materials can be translated
•     Materials could also be developed to connect the teachings of the Seven Grandfather with the Bluewater Character Development attributes

Submitted to:
Bluewater District School Board
16 October 2007
For more information please contact
Steven Reid, Superintendent of Instruction


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