In late 2019, the University of British Columbia brought together educators and students for one-day symposium focused entirely on empowering indigenous students and communities through an International Baccalaureate education. Here is a recap of the event.
Before such events became impossible due to COVID-19, a one-day symposium was offered at the University of British Columbia titled Empowering Indigenous Students and Communities through International Baccalaureate Education. This event was planned with and supported by, the UBC Faculty of Education – Associate Dean for Indigenous Education; Jan Hare; Bob Poole of the International Baccalaureate; Gary Little, formerly of the Vancouver School Board; and three Primary Years Program (PYP) schools in British Columbia whose populations are significantly indigenous or in one case 100% indigenous. This initiative was supplemented by financial support from a local philanthropic organization which provided significant support to the development of the IB PYP in the first of these schools.
There were 91 attendees at this event from British Columbia, Alberta and Washington state, educators and educators in training with a wide variety of roles in school systems. There were expressions of interest from educators in other states and provinces as well, should such an event be repeated.
The keynote speaker was Brad Baker of the Squamish Nation, District Principal of Indigenous Education for the North Vancouver School District. Brad has been an educator for 25 years and is the recipient of many awards for his leadership. Brad’s voice is heard often, nationally and internationally advocating for an increased understanding of the values of indigenous education.
“The impetus for this symposium was the belief that the thematic, holistic approach to learning as offered in the IB Primary Years Programme can lead to a more successful and meaningful approach to education for indigenous students”.
The impetus for this symposium was the belief that the thematic, holistic approach to learning as offered in the IB Primary Years Programme can lead to a more successful and meaningful approach to education for indigenous students. The aim of this symposium was to discuss PYP in the indigenous context, drawing on the experience of the three authorized PYP schools (plus one candidate school) in British Columbia.
- Southlands Elementary School in Vancouver, BC. Margaret Paxton, Principal. Joanna Wood, PYP Coordinator
- Queen Mary Community School in North Vancouver, BC. Jennifer Wilson, Principal. Jennifer Aragon, PYP Coordinator
- SenPokChin in Oliver, BC. Val Allen, Principal. Julie Shaw, PYP Coordinator. Click here to read more about SenPokChin.
Dr. Jan Hare introduced the event, held in the First Nations Longhouse at UBC. Bob Poole began with an introduction to the PYP for those not familiar with IB and PYP. The key element of the day’s program was Brad Baker’s working session involving all participants in collaborative activities designed to better understand indigenous learning goals and approaches.
A large part of his focus was a close look at the First People’s Principles of Learning to see where common elements link with the PYP. Later, small group discussion looked more closely at these elements and their importance to indigenous learning.
The three authorized PYP schools presented their experiences regarding what was working well for indigenous learners within their PYP structures. Click here to read.
The latter part of the day included a review of some research about the success of the PYP at one of these schools and a discussion about what sort of further research would be helpful.
“Participants left energized and enthused about their work and the way forward”.
An interesting backdrop to the symposium was the recent adoption by the province of British Columbia of legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This declaration gives further impetus to move forward on reconciliation, confirming indigenous rights while promoting language and cultural revitalization for indigenous peoples.
It was a very successful day. Participants left energized and enthused about their work and the way forward. We hope that primary schools whose student body includes indigenous students will take a close look at the IB Primary Years Programme.