SD 91 – Multi School Team SD#91 Nechako Lakes

I. General Information

School Name: SD 91 – Multi School Team

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Lorn Kennedy:, Stephanie Sedgewick:, Brigitte Atwood:, Karen Boucher:, Heather Derkson:, Roberta Toth:, Amy Dash:, Mia Moutray:, Ashley Kennedy:, Michelle Miller-Gauthier:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions Study

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Indigenous pedagogy, Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Our focus is on supporting change in the school system and at the community level so that Indigenous and other equity-seeking learners can transition from unsafe experiences / environments at school to safe experiences / environments at school.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details


  • Review of the district equity scan
  • Disproportionate racist experiences of Indigenous learners
  • Racial tension and contentions the Honouring Diversity 8 course elicited in some schools and towns
  • Interviewing Indigenous learners directly about adults who believe in them
  • Recognition that there is a need to support educators to continue to learn to embed Indigenous ways of learning and to decolonize practices that are barriers to learning for Indigenous students, as well as learners in other marginalized groups
  • “Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family and the community” (FPPL, FNESC)

Focus: This scanning across the district has led us to understand that to have a deep and sustainable impact on creating safer school environments for Indigenous learners, we need to go beyond our school district and into community with our learning and actions. Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family and the community (FPPL, FNESC). Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners are impacted by their community cultures and social climates, and schools are a microcosm of the larger surrounding communities. By working to further our circles of influence in schools and communities, learners will begin to have safer experiences/environments at school.

Hunch: Our scanning of what is going on for our learners includes the district equity scan which highlighted racist experiences of Indigenous learners, the resulting racial tension and contentions the Diversity 8 course elicited in some schools and towns, and it will include asking Indigenous learners directly about adults who believe in them. There is a need to support educators to continue to learn to embed Indigenous ways of learning and to decolonize practices that are barriers to learning for Indigenous students, as well as learners in other marginalized groups.

New Professional Learning:

  • We have done some reading in trauma-informed practice, as trauma is a common thread between marginalized groups. The book “What happened to You?” goes into research on how the brain reacts to stress and trauma and demonstrates that what happened in the past shapes who we are today. It also discusses how adaptable our brain is and the ability to heal from those traumas. An important message throughout this book is to look at behaviours from a “What happened to you?” angle rather than thinking “What is wrong with you?”. There is a reason for behaviour and it may be the result of trauma.
  • “Walking Alongside” was a four-part learning series with Jo Chrona and Monique Gray Smith. We learned about how our paths as educators can and should mirror our learner’s and communities’ paths. We also talked about reciprocal relationships and how interconnectedness between educators, learners, the land and water impact the decisions we make. We also explored Intersectionality of Indigenous Education, Equity and Anti-Racism and what part we play in that system and how it is necessary for non-Indigenous learners. We ended the series with a discussion of the emerging themes and transformations in Indigenous Education. This is the critical kind of learning DELSA members are dedicated to and try to support our learners, colleagues and community members with.
  • 4 Seasons of Reconciliation was a 5-month course offered by the First Nations University of Canada and Reconciliation Education. The course was self-paced, with two modules opening every month. It provided readings, videos and quizzes related to economic reconciliation and the difference between life on reserve and off, colonialism and racism, the history of First Nations People, treaties and what they mean to First Nations People, residential schools, UNDRIP, reconciliation and restitution. Along with the online course, there were five webinars with notable guest speakers. It was an excellent first step into reconciliation and the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We are looking forward to season 2: Learning from the Land next year.
  • Several members attended the NOIIE symposium.
  • Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity offered a 5 module independent study on “Implicit Bias.”
  • Several members joined Jo Chrona for a learning series that included many people from across the district and ran for most of the school year. The focus was incorporating teaching strategies to decolonize practices and support all learners.

Taking Action:

  • SD91 Board meeting attendance to enhance the visibility of the supporters of diversity and to support the marginalized groups. Being knowledgeable about the different motions being made and offering feedback, and supporting others to do the same.
  • Several DELSA members have joined the Vanderhoof Good Neighbours Committee, which is focused on anti-racism work and creating a more inclusive and welcoming community. As a result, some of us became aware that Action for Canada was holding a Jordan Peterson video town hall where they looked at several Peterson videos and had a discussion in Vanderhoof. Several members attended to witness the event and wrote a letter to the town council expressing concern about the event. We suggested how these events are advertised, as businesses might be blindly allowing posters to be hung up.
  • We helped organize our district’s Share the Love Day. Action for Canada organized a protest, so we organized counter-protest to show support for the marginalized groups.
  • Attended the NOIIE Symposium and networked with people from all over the world and experienced diverse perspectives, affirmation for our work and gained ideas from many passionate international educators. Students’ Voice was also showcased with a presentation from a group from a BC school where they participated in a program to reduce experiences of racism in their school.
  • Pride event attendance: Some members helped with hosting and organizing in various communities.
  • Several members are the SOGI reps for the schools.
  • Project Heart: Students researched residential schools and then designed a tile to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools. Red border tiles honour survivors, black border tiles honour those who did not survive. Then the students chose to walk in the Indigenous Days Parade to showcase their project and raise awareness.
  • Creating “Honouring Cultures, Communities and Individuals” 8. This course stemmed from the face-to-face course developed for our district, “Honouring Diversity 8”. We adapted it for an online environment. It is being taught at EBUS Academy in the 23/24 school year and is now available for all members of the online school consortium Western Canadian Learning Network.
  • Several DELSA members participated in a community MMIWG event where Indigenous women led songs, drumming and a community march, to acknowledge in a public way the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Photo description: (Top) Students at Fraser Lake Elementary Secondary who engaged with Project of Heart learning and activities with their teacher Heather Derkson. (Bottom) Community event honouring and remembering missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls that took place in Vanderhoof. A few of our DELSA transition team members participated. Students from a class at an elementary school brought their own drums and joined in the singing and drumming as they marched through town.


  • Safe spaces were created
  • Support and learning are ongoing
  • School GSAs were strengthened
  • Staff GSA (SD91) is being strengthened
  • Student Voice (student leaders from each high school) speaks very highly of the diverse actions taking place in our district and community

Reflections/Advice: Diverse learners are significantly impacted by their community cultures and social climates, and schools are a microcosm of the larger surrounding communities. “Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family and the community” (FPPL, FNESC). There is a significant need for supporting marginalized learners in our communities, and many people need support with the learning needed to get to a place of acceptance and empathy. DELSA members are gaining the confidence and knowledge to engage community members in conversations to further their understanding of the issues.

As this inquiry is multi-year and the data collected from surveys in the equity scan is not renewed each year, we are awaiting the next round of data. We anticipate the district will conduct a follow-up in the 23-24 school year, and it will include the question asking whether students can name two adults who believe they will be a success.