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SFU to add more seats for Indigenous teachers

June 13, 2019
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SFU is training more Indigenous teachers to help integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into B.C. classrooms.

The university’s Faculty of Education received $180,000 to support the addition of new seats for the Indigenous students in SFU’s Professional Development (Teacher Education) Program.

The funding will support 17 additional Indigenous students in fall 2019 and will increase the number of Indigenous students in the 2020 cohort of the Professional Linking Program.

“There has been chronic shortage of teachers of Indigenous backgrounds in B.C.’s K-12 school system,” says Kris Magnusson, dean of SFU’s Faculty of Education.

“This funding will go a long way in helping to redress this issue. Hopefully this is the start of a sustained effort to increase Indigenous teachers in this province."

The funding is part of the province’s $2.7-million investment in Indigenous teacher education training. The funding was announced by Melanie Mark, minister of advanced education, during an event in Merritt on Thursday.

“Investing in Indigenous educators has been a call to action for generations,” said Mark in a news release. “It empowers Indigenous students to see themselves in their teachers, and Indigenous teachers to continue to act as role models across the education system. All communities benefit when we embrace our diversity.”

Indigenous teachers are under-represented in B.C. schools and only 4 to 6 per cent of new teacher education graduates are Indigenous. The provincial funding is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into the classroom.

SFU’s Faculty of Education has a history of Indigenous community engagement. The faculty has established an Office of Indigenous Education, created an Aboriginal Gathering Space room and is in the planning stages of a TRC Memorial Gardens and Outdoor Classroom.

In addition, the Faculty of Education has created an Indigenous Education Reconciliation Council, a form of governance that parallels the Faculty Council. The faculty is also planning to hire a new associate dean of Indigenous education.

This spring, SFU celebrated 164 Indigenous graduates, including five PhDs, 67 master’s degrees, and 26 executive MBAs in Indigenous business and leadership.