Yukon schools vote to create First Nations School Board

The Government of Yukon and the Chief’s Committee on Education have formally announced the creation of a new school board in Yukon: the First Nations School Board (FNSB). The school communities of Chief Zzeh Gittlit School, Ross River School, St. Elias Community School, Johnson Elementary, Watson Lake Secondary, Nelnah Bessie John School, Takhini Elementary School, and Grey Mountain Primary will be transferred to the board for the 2022-23 school year. The announcement has been hailed as a historic milestone and an example of reconciliation that will give Indigenous people more control over their children’s education. The school board plans to formalize on-the-land teaching such as camps that teach students about animals and how to survive on the land. “[The school board] is essentially amplifying what we’re already doing,” said Heidi Warren, principal at Nelnah Bessie John School. “Instead of, ‘oh yeah we’re going to do this camp,’ as an add-on to the curriculum, this will be the curriculum.” Elder David Johnny Sr, who runs on-the-land camps, said that it will take time for the school to come out from “being under the thumb of the government” but that the move will lead to positive long-term changes.

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