Eight Yukon schools have voted in favour of joining the territory’s new First Nations school board.
More than 1,200 people voted in referendums held in Whitehorse and other communities across the territory.
“There’s a lot of really, really good feeling towards getting a lot more control over the education of our children,” says Kaaxnox, Dän nätthe äda Chief Steve Smith of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in Dakwäkäda, also known as Haines Junction.
Dakwäkäda’s St. Elias Community School is one of the school’s joining the board.
“(This will bring) big, big educational opportunities to our students…and a more well-rounded view for every student that comes into our local school,” he says.
While Smith says he’s apprehensive for the change the board will bring to education, he’s confident it’s the right step forward for the territory.
“I know it will be an educational experience that will provide them with way more opportunities and the next challenge in their educational careers if they choose to move on to post-secondary, a skilled trade or the workforce.”
Schools under the board will exert more control over students’ education, as well as manage funding provided by the Department of Education.
They will also have more say regarding curriculum, which could include things like on-the-land learning and increased First Nations language instruction.
The school board will be operational for the 2022-23 school year.
Nine of Yukon’s 29 schools voted on whether or not to join the board. One school in the community of Mayo opted not to join the board.
Schools that did not vote will have an opportunity to do so in the future.