Rally held after school board cuts 3 aboriginal liaison jobs

A rally was held outside the Centre for Education in Edmonton Monday after three aboriginal liaison workers were let go.
A group of aboriginal Edmontonians rallied Monday to protest cuts made to the aboriginal liaison program offered through the Edmonton Public School Board. (CBC)

A rally was held outside the Centre for Education in Edmonton Monday after three aboriginal liaison workers were let go.

The workers had helped counsel aboriginal students, organize traditional events and help give aboriginal students a voice — services that rally organizer Alana Boysis said play a very important role.

“They work with the families, they actually encourage the families to come as a group to the school and encourage the child to stay in school.”

Parents say the absence of the three positions will make a big difference for aboriginal students.

Alana Boysis said the three aboriginal liaison workers played an important role in giving aboriginal students a voice. (CBC)

“The aboriginal liaisons play a key role in every school, and even so much so that a lot of kids won't even want to go to school if there is no aboriginal liaison there,” said Boysis, adding the workers helped establish trust.

“Parents aren't going to come in there. They're still going to be scared of the teachers. Scared of the principal,” she said.

Boysis says the school board can do more to help keep aboriginal students in school.

“An equal education is not what we're getting. Our kids aren't the ones failing. It's the system that's failing,” she said.

Edmonton Public Schools spokeswoman Jane Sterling said the cuts were part of larger staffing cuts announced earlier this summer.

But she said keeping aboriginal students in school and thriving is important to the school board.

“We really do work hard with communities and partners to make sure [aboriginal] students are successful — they're no different than any other student.”

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