Barriere Secondary School SD#73 Kamloops/Thompson

School Name: Barriere Secondary School

School District: SD#73 Kamloops/Thompson

Inquiry Team Members: Thomas Lowe (
Kristy Dolha (
Mark McVittie (

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation)

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Embracing the traditions and culture of the people on whose land we work, learn and live.

Scanning: This was year two of our participation in the Indigenous Transitions study.

We began a deeper scan this year and wanted to wade into the territory of uncovering our unconscious biases, but did not get far. The scan shows that staff come to work with a bias that they are not aware of. This bleeds into our entire school population, not only our Indigenous population.

Focus: Because work on ourselves is tough at the best of times, and these were not the best of times this year, we focused on integrating more purposeful actions to include our entire school community in the work of reconciliation and learning of the local Indigenous culture.

Hunch: We, as staff, continue to contribute to a lack of knowledge and understanding because:
1. We are not, for the most part, part of the local community (we drive from neighbouring communities).
2. It has not been a priority for our school community and is easy, or perhaps even simpler, to avoid.

New Professional Learning: In April we learned from our local knowledge keeper, Don Bowser. We were told stories, we sang songs and drummed, and then we made our own drums. Don Bowser is a fabulous resource. We need to spend more time researching and learning to better understand the impact of intergenerational trauma.

Taking Action: This video shows one piece of action we took. This was showcased at the NOIIE Symposium in May 2021.

Checking: This is what we need to do as a means to scan for our next iteration.

Reflections/Advice: DO NOT fake it. I feel like we did a lot of making things up.

It is so important to scan and focus on the one thing that you firmly believe is going to make the BIGGEST difference for learners. I am curious: if we create a sense of belonging through the development of sound pedagogy and a culture of high expectations, will our students feel like they want to be here AND grow as learners? Right now it seems like we are focusing on a sense of belonging without really critically looking at the connection to academic achievement (improved literacy and numeracy levels). This is where we need to be focusing our attention next.

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