Alumna's passion for the Sm'algyax language helps students thrive
Sandra Carlick is helping students in her community thrive at school and beyond.
Carlick is the Director of Education for the Metlakatla Governing Council and is a proud Ts'msyen woman of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe of the Ts'msyen Nation near Prince Rupert, BC. She completed a Master of Education with a focus on First Nations Curriculum & Design at SFU in 1997.
“I went to a residential school as a teenager. I came home one day and said I’m not going back there. As an adult I saw what had happened to my parents and me happening again to the next generation, with many of our students spending their time loitering in the hall and having poor academic success. School was not a positive place for them,” said Carlick.
Carlick helped reconnect students with the education system by sharing one of the things she felt most passionate about: her culture. Carlick spent nearly three decades developing and delivering curriculum on Sm'algyax, the traditional language of her people in her role as a public school teacher at Charles Hays Secondary High School in School District #52.
“My students loved learning through the lens of their culture. When I finally retired from the classroom, my students would come and knock at my door and beg me to come back,” she said.
As Director of Education, Carlick continues to provides direction for the local school system by developing new curricula, monitoring student progress, and helping manage the district’s education budget. She also continues to promote the revitalization of the Sm'algyax language by giving talks at community events.
Carlick explains that her passion to promote Indigenous education and culture is fueled by not only her community, but her family.
“My sister, Debbie-Leighton Stephens, who is now enrolled in the Doctorate Program at SFU was one of my biggest inspirations. I didn’t think I had what it took to do a graduate degree but she really pushed me to do it and I'm glad she did: it really helped me form my practice as language and culture educator,” she says.
Author: Jackie Amsden