Thompson Rivers University is expanding its bachelor of education program by 16 seats in September to help address a shortage of Indigenous teachers in the province.
The expansion of TRU’s bachelor of education program is part of the provincial government’s decision to spend $2.7 million on Indigenous teacher education training across B.C.
The funding in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 62, which called upon governments to fund post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into the classroom.
“We know that inequities and under-representation exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in many ways, including in education, and this is one step forward in addressing this issue,” TRU president and vice-chancellor Brett Fairbairn said.
The university is receiving $340,000 for the Indigenous education seats, which will see students enter the two-year bachelor of education program in September along with other students.
An elder and a mentor will support Indigenous students as they progress through the program, with the guidance of Roxane Letterlough of the St’at’imc Nation as cohort co-ordinator and instructor.
Airini, dean of TRU’s Faculty of Education and Social Work who identifies by one name, said about 12 per cent of the Interior region is Indigenous peoples.
“Through this funding, TRU will expand our teacher education program so there will be more Indigenous role models in schools and, potentially, as future leaders. Being a teacher at any time is important. Being a teacher at this time is truly transformative,” Airini said.
She added that a minimum of 25 per cent of the newly funded seats for Indigenous students are prioritized for Secwépemc students.
Indigenous Education Executive Director Paul Michel said Indigenous teachers will “bring forth holistic, interconnected and traditional curricula, strengthen Indigenous student achievement and enhance Indigenous programs and resources. This is a dynamic, exciting and powerful initiative that will benefit our local school districts and Indigenous communities.”
In addition to the Indigenous education seats, TRU is one of eight institutions receiving $50,000 to help integrate Indigenous knowledge and culture into B.C.’s education curriculum.
The university will be working with School District 73 officials on curriculum development and related initiatives.
Those interested in enrolling in TRU’s bachelor of education program can contact TRU’s education advising office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.