First Nations demand representation on WCPS board

The Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) board of trustees is weighing options with regard to the appointment of a First Nations member

The Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) board of trustees is weighing options with regard to the appointment of a First Nations member to the board.

While the board has had this same discussion in the past, the latest debate follows the receipt of the copy of a letter that the four bands of Maskwacis sent to the Minister of Education.

However, similar to the past, they have not yet taken any action regarding the recent letter. “They just sent that letter to the Ministry, we haven’t heard anything back from them (the ministry),” said Trudy Bratland, chair of the board.

One Sept. 8, 2014, the chiefs and councils of the Maskwacis Cree decided they felt there was not equal representation for the First Nation students attending schools in the division.

A portion of the letter states: “The proposed amendments to Alberta’s Education Act, in effect on September 1, 2015, offer some recourse in such a situation, if there is an education service agreement in place with the First Nation. However, in this case, the schools in Ponoka serve no less than four surrounding First Nations, being the Maskwacis Cree.”

“On an early poll of the Maskwacis Cree Nations’ students enrollment in Ponoka Public Schools (elementary, high school and outreach school), we are advised that there are no less than 150 students from Samson Cree Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation and Montana First Nation enrolled for the 2014-15 school year,” it continued.

“We have a lot of unanswered questions about having someone appointed to the board,” Bratland added.

The trustees are all elected to their positions and Bratland says that one factor remains a concern. She feels, without being elected to the board, a member will not have to face the same level of accountability.

Because of the new Education Act, Bratland also is not sure who will have the final say on the matter, the WCPS board or the province. “And that’s part of the reason we’re still investigating.”

The four bands’ letter also mentioned the act and they feel it will offer “recourse” for their concerns.

Bratland says the board is always looking to make sure the First Nations students of the division are given the support and opportunities they need to succeed.

Wetaskiwin has had an appointed First Nations representative sitting on the division’s board and both Bratland and the four bands think it has been positive.

 

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