Rocky View Schools (RVS) has taken a step toward recognizing and honouring Indigenous Peoples.
The Board of Trustees recently approved a Land Acknowledgement that will be used at certain school jurisdiction events.
Superintendent Greg Luterbach explains, "We look at it as an act of reconciliation and it's meant to honour both the land and Indigenous peoples of our local area. In Alberta, there's been a growing use of Land Acknowledgements. In Rocky View, we had talked about it going back for a couple of years. The thought was to develop our own rather than just kind of accepting somebody else's. Ultimately the trustees approved a statement that will be an opportunity for people to say meaningfully."
Luterbach says the division doesn't want the Acknowledgement to be overused, feeling that would diminish the importance of it.
"We're providing flexibility to our schools around when they want to use it because that's going to be important. We don't want it just to be a statement that's read just for the sake of, we want it to be meaningful. We want to be able to move forward in a positive way."
RVS Learning Specialist Chelsea Jackson played a role in developing the Land Acknowledgement. She selected a few schools to meet with and get their feedback on what it might include. The group included some grade five students from Glenbow Elementary School, a grade 11 class from Bow Valley High and a grade three class from Heloise Lorimer School in Airdrie.
After the student voice had been presented, a Wisdom and Guidance Committee started the creation and wording of the Land Acknowledgement and came up with a statement that was reviewed by senior administration and school trustees who made a few modifications to reach the final wording of the Acknowledgement which says:
"Rocky View Schools acknowledges and recognizes all the Indigenous Peoples whose footprints have marked these lands from time immemorial. Together, we can learn and honour the ways of knowing of Indigenous Peoples, and all peoples, for future generations."
Luterbach says an Administrative Procedure will be released detailing some background about Land Acknowledgements and direction on its usage.
"As I said earlier, there's going to be some flexibility in it. In some cases at a graduation, I think it's completely appropriate for it to be said. At some board meetings or school jurisdiction events. You might say it at assemblies. We're going to leave flexibility with the schools to know their community, to have those conversations at a school to say what makes sense for our school and our community."
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