British Columbia

Vancouver schools must commit to UN's Indigenous rights declaration: board trustee

B.C. is the first province to implement the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Vancouver School Board trustee Jennifer Reddy says the city's schools should do the same.

Jennifer Reddy wants future VSB decisions to respect rights of Indigenous students

VSB trustee Jennifer Reddy says the board should confirm its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Nicolas Amaya/CBC)

A Vancouver School Board trustee says it's time the city's schools committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, after B.C. recently became the first province to do so. 

Jennifer Reddy has put forward a motion to the board asking for its commitment to UNDRIP. If approved, it will mean curriculum, infrastructure and staffing decisions will be made with respect to how they affect Indigenous students.

"It's a big opportunity to make sure that every decision we are contemplating considers the effect it would have on Indigenous children and youth and their families," said Reddy in an interview on CBC's The Early Edition.

UNDRIP consists of 46 articles ratified by the United Nations, recognizing the basic human rights of Indigenous people along with their rights to self-determination.

On Oct. 24, the B.C. government introduced legislation to align its laws with the declaration. 

School trustee Jennifer Reddy says she has always been a settler on unceded territories and her motion to affirm VSB's commitment to UNDRIP is an opportunity to move forward on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. (The Early Edition)

Article 14 of UNDRIP says states shall take effective measures to provide access, when possible, to education in their own culture and provided in their own language. 

"We have an opportunity to think about how we add language opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students," said Reddy, adding it would be a way to move forward on the calls to action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Reddy said officially committing to UNDRIP would also be an invitation to community members to hold the board accountable to make sure their policies respect Indigenous students' needs.

"We need to think about the methodology of language and cultural teachings that come with these Indigenous world views that are plural and diverse and different from the current education system," said Reddy.

Reddy put forward her motion on Oct. 28. It will be reviewed by the policy and governance committee on Dec. 4.

To hear the complete interview with Jennifer Reddy, tap the audio link below:

With files from The Early Edition