Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

An Impact Assessment of the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

6.4 Emerging thinking about community involvement

For many of the members of the AESN , there was a renewed focus on successful practices, but some educators were aware that although change had been realized both at the classroom and school-wide level, in some cases, their inquiries still lacked elements that represented deep and meaningful learning among their Aboriginal students. The cases reviewed for this report show that in recognizing this gap, some educators understood the need to engage members of their Aboriginal communities in the planning stages of their inquiries. For example, at George M. Dawson Secondary in Haida Gwaii staff welcomed the external expertise of the community and developed new partnerships with local Elders and community members. In this case, the use of traditional story sticks was important to sharing and bonding experiences. At Dr. A. Perley Elementary and John A. Hutton Elementary in Boundary School District, school staff connected with parents and students by meeting in a daily after school program. Parents attended alongside students and this process of inclusion strengthened the commitment by all parties to become involved in creating and celebrating Aboriginal student success. All members of the families involved – grandparents, siblings, and parents – were invited to participate in students’ learning. Inquiries were reflecting the need to include First Nations partners in the planning stages. As this summary indicates, AESN members were exploring new ways of thinking about the many “teachers” who could contribute to the learning of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.