School District 27 board of trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to support the preferential hiring of First Nations workers until the number of staff equal the same percentage of students in the district, which is roughly 35 per cent of the population. Angie Mindus photo

School District 27 board of trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to support the preferential hiring of First Nations workers until the number of staff equal the same percentage of students in the district, which is roughly 35 per cent of the population. Angie Mindus photo

SD 27 trustees unanimously support motion to give priority to hire First Nations

The move is intended to support First Nation students’ success at school

School District 27 trustees are hoping they can further improve the graduation rates of First Nations students by trying to hire more First Nations teachers.

At its regular board meeting Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to “direct the Superintendent of Schools to begin the application process to the Human Rights Tribunal that will allow the Board to give preferential hiring to people who self-identify as Aboriginal until such a time as the number hired identifying as Aboriginal is in proportion to the number of students who self-identify as Aboriginal.”

Currently the number of students who identify as Aboriginal in SD 27 is about 35 per cent, said Superintendent Mark Wintjes, noting the graduation rates are as high as they’ve ever been in the district at 69 per cent.

Board chair Tanya Guenther said she fully supports the motion.

“My only concern is ensuring we always have the best person in the job for our students.”

Trustee Sheila Boehm also supported the move, but was unsure it would make a difference in hiring.

“I think it’s a great place to start but it’s still going to be hard to find (workers).”

According to a backgrounder provided by the district, Section 42(3) of the Human Rights Code allows the Human Rights Tribunal to approve the implementation of a special program that has, as its objective, the improvement of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups.

“The Tribunal recognizes that Aboriginal people in Canada face pre-existing disadvantage arising out of a legacy of colonialism, including the inter-generational trauma associated with residential schools. Aboriginal Canadians continue to have lower educational and economic achievements than non-Aboriginal Canadians, as well as poorer health outcomes and increased risk of violence,” states the report.

The report goes on to note the findings of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission needs to be acted on.

“The Commission called for greater Aboriginal representation, and better cultural competence, in the education, health, justice and child welfare sectors, as well as other aspects of public life.”

Wintjes said it would take about a year to finalize the request, should it be approved by the Human Rights Tribunal.