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iCount School Gives First Nations Students a Place to Call Home

9 SEP 2014
Career Path : Education News

iCount School Give First Nation Students a Place to Call Home

First Nations communities in B.C. and across Canada are often isolated or located in small towns, where students find a very different life at school than at home. In the First Nations community of Moricetown, high school is a 45 minute bus ride away, and what greeted students there was vastly different from the primary school system in Moricetown. Not only were the students all predominantly white, but the curriculum had nothing to do with First Nations values or way of life. Needless to say, many First Nations students would drop out before graduation.

The Huffington Post recently published an article spotlighting Tom and Lorna Butz, who have established a new high school located in Moricetown called iCount. Their mandate is that any child from the community who feels like they don’t fit in at other high schools, is free to enroll at iCount. The curriculum of iCount weaves in First Nations traditions like hunting and canoe building, while the local language Wet’suwet’en has its own class. Small class sizes mean that core subjects like math and science can be tutored one on one with the teacher.

The school has already made a huge improvement in the community, with RCMP reporting a decrease in vandalism and an increase in community life. A similar idea implemented at Oskayak Highschool in Saskatoon has led to an increase in student graduation—from 3 to 60 in just a year. If more schools in and around First Nations communities were to implement a culture-inclusive curriculum like iCount, it seems certain that graduation rates would increase—and perhaps the issue of poverty in First Nations communities could finally be tackled.

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