Teegee Renews Call for Aboriginal Board of Education
Prince George, B.C. – Tribal Chief Terry Teegee with the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council is losing his patience with the Prince George School Board.
Teegee attended his third public board meeting in the past six months this week expressing his disappointment that the Board hasn’t expressed a willingness to re-establish an Aboriginal Board of Education.
The last board was disbanded due to poor attendance in October 2014 (see previous story here).
Instead, the Board approved 60 days of consultation so that reference groups can review revisions to its Aboriginal Committee. For Teegee that’s not good enough.
“Well from what I saw in the earlier drafts it’s not very inclusive, it’s more exclusive in terms of involvement. Perhaps there’s consultation but no involvement from us,” he said.
“I’m not sure who chooses the people who are on the committee and that’s another concern of mine.”
Teegee said its symptomatic of what he’s seen in school districts around the province and doesn’t jive with the spirit of truth and reconciliation seen on the federal scene the past year.
In fact, he’s so unimpressed with the school board that his organization has hired legal counsel.
“We’re leaving every door open including legal action but before it comes to that we want to exhaust every avenue.”
The threat left Prince George School Board Chair Tony Cable scratching his head.
“Basically we have an organization (the Aboriginal Committee) that’s meeting regularly discussing aboriginal education and it’s got input from all the aboriginal groups,” he said.
“So people can come to board meetings and express their concerns and they can tell us they have lawyers but basically you need a lawyer if someone’s broken some policy or not being fair to people which we haven’t. We’re following all provincial, federal, and local rules and regulations.”
He’s also disappointed because he feels the district’s Aboriginal Department has been doing a fine job of representing the more than 3,000 Aboriginal students in the district.
“I hope no one is getting the impression that some wonderful work isn’t being done in that area. We have an excellent aboriginal department and the department is doing an excellent job,” said Cable.
“The graduation rates for aboriginal students is steadily going up (from around 45% to about 61% the past few years) and it’s a real success story.”
But Teegee said he won’t be satisfied until 100% of Aboriginal students graduate.
“We’re shooting for 100%. Historically everybody had a role in our communities. Nobody was left behind before we were colonized.”