Mr. Joe Desjarlais,
Thank you for your email and offer to support our relationship with the Nova Métis Heritage Association. The Surrey School District continues to be committed to working collaboratively with our community partners and looks forward to working with the BC Métis Federation, the Métis Nation of BC and the Nova Métis Heritage Association. Anthony Krilow (vice president of Nova Métis Heritage Association), Sharon Eyford (Board of Directors for the Nova Métis Heritage Association) and myself met yesterday morning. We discussed our District’s Aboriginal Cultural Presentations document and were able to positively resolve the matter together.
Here is a brief summary of our meeting:
1. I apologized for the removal of the Métis presentations in our cultural presentations document and reiterated our commitment to ensure that our Métis community is respected, acknowledged and honoured.
2. I explained the context for the removal of the Métis presentations to Mr. Krilow and Ms. Eyford: In October 2015, our Métis cultural facilitator accepted another position and so when the document was being revised, Métis presentations were put on hold until a Métis cultural facilitator could be hired to fill the vacancy. This draft document was used last fall and uploaded onto our website in early January.
3. I outlined what actions have taken place to rectify the situation: a) The draft Aboriginal Cultural Presentations document was removed from our website, b) The document is currently being updated to include Métis cultural presentations and will be completed no later than Friday, February 5, c) the Métis cultural facilitator vacancy has been posted, d) Our District will seek to utilize members of our local Métis community to conduct the Métis presentations while we seek to hire a Métis cultural facilitator, e) We will use our current staff to facilitate the Métis cultural presentations only if we are unable to find a Métis community member and are still in process of filling the vacancy.
4. I asked Mr. Krilow and Ms. Eyford for a list of contacts from our local Métis community – people who would be able and willing to conduct the Métis cultural presentations (name, contact info, availability, presentation).
5. Mr. Krilow requested that the updated document, particularly the sections about the Métis presentations, be sent to Nova Métis Heritage Association to be vetted by the Métis community. I agreed to this process and told Mr. Krilow that the updated document will be emailed to him upon completion.
6. As this matter is of significant concern to the Métis community, Mr. Krilow requested a formal letter of acknowledgement/apology regarding the issue. I explained to Mr. Krilow and Ms. Eyford that since the matter was brought forward to the Métis provincial body (BCMF – Keith Henry), it seemed to me that any formal acknowledgement/apology should occur between our CEO/Superintendent, Jordan Tinney, and the president of the BCMF, Keith Henry. Mr. Krilow said that he would be in contact with Mr. Henry about this.
7. Mr. Krilow and Ms. Eyford offered some additional ideas on how our Métis community could be further included in our District (District Métis events, continued involvement in our year-end Aboriginal Honouring Ceremony, use of the Nova Métis Heritage Association brochure).
We concluded our meeting with both Mr. Krilow and Ms. Eyford expressing to me that they felt that our meeting was supportive, collaborative and adequately resolved the matter of our District’s 2015/16 Cultural Presentations Document. As always, I am more than happy to meet with yourself or any other member of our Métis community to explore additional ways that we can work together to support our students and community.
Sol LeeActing District Principal Aboriginal Education 604-595-6100
[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/SD-36-Response-to-Metis-Concerns-January-26th-2016.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this letter in PDF format.[/ilink]