Katie Nesbitt and her daughter. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake local appointed as the BCTEA coordinator for SD91

First-ever appointment in the newly-created role

A Burns Lake local from Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake Band), Katie Nesbitt, has been appointed as the first ever BC Tripartite Education Agreement Coordinator for School District 91 (SD 91).

According to the school district, this new BCTEA Coordinator position is a first in BC Public Education and was created to help SD 91 fulfill its responsibilities under the BC Tripartite Education Agreement (BCTEA). The agreement is meant to set the foundation for further growth and changes to support the development of BC First Nations’ education.

“It feels great! I am always up for the challenge of a new role, and I love helping people learn and share. I always think about the struggles my family has endured not only losing our culture due to the Indian Act and the barriers of being disenfranchised. My great-grandmothers dealt with the struggles of racism and colonization without the support of their community, and my grandparents fought hard to reclaim what they could of our Indigeneity,” said Nesbitt. “This has been a journey for me and my mother as well. I am hopeful that we can allow the next generation to grow up knowing who they are and where they come from.”

Nesbitt graduated from Lakes District Secondary and then went to study at both the CNC and Thompson Rivers University, through the Bob Garglardis School of Business and Economics. She then worked for Northern Health for 13 years and took the opportunity to work with the SD 91 Indigenous Education department in 2019.

“Since working for SD91, I have felt supported and encouraged to keep learning and to reach for opportunities. I have learned a lot of my own culture and Indigeneity which was lost to my family due to disenfranchisement. Understanding your heritage is important to your identity. The support I have received to learn about that part of my family has increased my knowledge of who I am,” she said.

According to Nesbitt, this role is intended to support SD 91 in its continued journey to honouring equity, diversity and engagement with the local 14 First Nations Rightsholders and partners. She also said that the BCTEA is an important foundation for increasing culture, language, and identity for Indigenous students.

“It is important that we allow students to learn about their own identity and remove barriers for Indigenous students. Part of this work is to support continued learning about not only Indigenous culture and language but about the history and Indigenous practices locally,” she said.

Through this role, and Nesbitt’s coordination, SD 91 is hoping to strengthen relationships with each First Nations community.

“Through this new position, I hope we can further reconcile and break barriers for students, allowing them more opportunities and success than previous generations,” said Nesbitt.