The Victoria Native Friendship Centre is not happy with how the Greater Victoria School District is approaching the hiring process for an Aboriginal role. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre is not happy with how the Greater Victoria School District is approaching the hiring process for an Aboriginal role. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria Native Friendship Centre challenges Greater Victoria School District in strongly worded letter

The VNFC is upset with how the School Board has approached hiring an Indigenous-focused educator

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre wrote a scathing letter to the Greater Victoria School District in regards to the hiring process for the district principal of Aboriginal Nations Education (ANED). The letter states that the school board is “gravely out of sync with the desires of the greater community as a whole.”

The district principal role was held by Nella Nelson for over a decade, where she was responsible for facilitating Aboriginal lessons and resources into the education system. The role is shared with another district principal, which is held by a non-Indigenous person.

“So, when it was expressed that Nella will be stepping back, it was expressed that her replacement should be of Indigenous heritage to balance it out,” said Tanya Clarmont, director of human resources and management support at the VNFC.

ALSO READ: Victoria Native Friendship Centre receives nearly half a million for child development

In order to come to a hiring decision, the Aboriginal Nations Education Council (ANEC), which represents all the different First Nations communities and stakeholders in Southern Vancouver Island, began a long process of discussions to find a new appointee.

“This committee was helping to manage the conversation as to how they should recruit a replacement for Nella,” Clarmont said. “But School District 61 made the decision to release an executive search paperwork without any consultation to the Aboriginal Nations Education Council.”

The School Board also developed an Aboriginal Ad Hoc Committee to develop this executive search – a job posting for the position– in an action that the VNFC letter says “tokenizes Indigenous participation by erasing Indigenous leadership and urban Indigenous voices.”

“They made an ad hoc committee that usurps the authority of ANEC,” Carlton said, adding that the ad hoc committee is primarily comprised of non-Indigenous people.

ALSO READ: Aboriginal speech language pathologist helps Vancouver Island kids

The job posting describes a position where First Nations knowledge is an asset, but Indigenous heritage is not required.

“The executive search paperwork does not include any Indigenous context,” Carlton said. “In the second draft of it, they decided to at least include some Indigenous art.”

The Greater Victoria School District serves over 20,000 students, with over 1,500 who self-identify as Indigenous.

“In our education system, we’re looking to schools to create a new dialogue about Indigenous culture, pride, and history,” Carlton said. “Working in systems that work against that makes it hard to have hope about reconciliation.”

Carlton said the VNFC is now waiting on a response from the School Board, but the hope is to sit down with them and have a constructive conversation on how to better approach the situation.

The Greater Victoria School District said that the ad hoc committee was developed to specifically include the Songhees First Nation –which is not part of the ANEC– in the development of an operational plan on Aboriginal education. This would focus on creating better achievements for Indigenous students, especially those living on reserve.

“There is no intention to disband ANEC, that is not the intention of the committee,” said Jordan Watters, Chair of the GVSD.

The ad hoc committee was just voted in, and has not had any meetings yet, she added.

As far as the hiring process goes, Watters said ANEC was consulted in regards to the job posting advertisement, before it was given to a third party for production and posting.

“Perhaps they feel not enough of their feedback was incorporated,” Watters said. “Perhaps they think we’re further down the line than we actually are.”

Watters said ANEC would be heavily involved in the hiring process because of the importance of the position.

“We probably could have done better to make sure everyone was given the opportunity to share their opinions. Now in the hiring process, we expect ANEC to give input into how we select someone,” Watters said.

“The Board takes the work of truth and reconciliation really seriously. We recognize how important it is to have a positive relationship with all of our community partners. It’s challenging work at times, but we’ve got our shoulder to the wheel and are going to continue to work to serve our Aboriginal students.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read