December 8, 2023

'Month of Conferences’ Closes with First Nations Education Celebration!

Greetings colleagues,

Our month of sector partner gatherings culminated last week with the 27th Annual FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee) Education Conference. The FNESC conference “is an event dedicated to advancing quality education for First Nations learners in BC. The intent is to support the capacity of all those in the education system to make transformative changes in First Nations education by supporting innovative practices and inspiring one another.” This year’s conference theme was ‘Transforming Education Through the DRIPA Action Plan’.


I was honoured to attend the event on behalf of the BCPVPA. In addition to being highly informative, the conference was an opportunity to experience and enjoy a rich tapestry of Indigenous arts and culture, including a performance by Spakwus Slolem, which translates as Eagle Song Dancers. This large troupe of singers, musicians, and dancers ranged in age from a month-old babe-in-arms to the Grandmother Elder who led the troupe. The final song invited audience participation, where the audience was divided into four groups, each representing a significant animal – eagle, wolf, orca, and raven. Each group participant was assigned a specific ‘dance move’, and it was an absolute pleasure to come together with the assembled dignitaries, attending Superintendents, the Deputy Minister of Education Christina Zacharuk, and Minister of Education and Child Care, Rachna Singh in this performance. Spakwus Slolem thrilled the capacity crowd, and established a wonderful tone to launch this conference dedicated to First Nations education in BC.

The more than 30 workshops and presentations shared a mix of information, outlined innovative practices from around the province, and offered the opportunity to hear from representatives from the Ministry of Education and Child Care, the Ministry of Post-Secondary and Future Skills, teachers, Indigenous educators and Elders, Principals and Vice-Principals, and many community partners.  

Keynote speakers included the Deputy Minister of the Declaration Act Secretariat, Jessica Wood, and Ann Marie Sam, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, who both gave very moving presentations and answered questions from the floor. There was an informative panel with leaders from SD52, SD74 and SD91 – including Roberta Edzerza, SD52 District Principal – who spoke about the implementation of the new Indigenous Language graduation requirement.

The event met its goal of being informative, supportive, and inspiring. It also reinforced that the BC education system is leading the world in Indigenous education, and that BCPVPA members are working alongside our First Nations partners – both locally and provincially – as we work collaboratively to close the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners.

Brian with Debbie Jeffrey, ED - FNESC

For many of you, there are only two weeks remaining until your winter break: the countdown begins…

Have a great weekend,



The BC Principals' & Vice-Principals' Association is a voluntary professional association representing school leaders employed as Principals and Vice-Principals in BC's public education system. We provide our members with the professional services and supports they need to provide exemplary leadership in public education.

Search our web site: