Snuneymuxw First Nation and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools sign unprecedented agreement

Jun. 21/22

SNUNEYMUXW TERRITORY (Nanaimo, B.C.) –Snuneymuxw First Nation (“SFN”) and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools (“NLPS”) sign unprecedented memorandum of agreement (“MOA”) that formalizes a unique relationship to co-govern Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh Community School (“QQS”).  A joint committee will be formed comprised of representatives from NLPS and SFN (the “Committee”). The Committee will assume operational responsibility for the QQS, congruent with honouring Snuneymuxw land and culture. This includes broadening the scope of ministry curriculum to include Snuneymuxw ways of learning. Established in 2019, QQS is open to everyone, as all children benefit from Snuneymuxw knowledge.                        

“Over the last 4 years we have walked together, and the results are profound,” said Snuneymuxw Acting Chief William Yoachim. “All children living within our vast territory will benefit from this powerful relationship for generations to come. By entering this MOA, our Nation and the local board of education will determine our education goals as Knowledge Partners. We celebrate this moment as an example of how we can reimagine what is possible together and create lasting positive change for all those connected to this sacred land.”

Collaborations between SFN and NLPS include the Snuneymuxw Welcome Pole at the Sway’a’Lana village site (Maffeo Sutton Park); the Te'tuxwtun Project on Fifth Street; Stadium District improvements; the naming of Syuwén’ct school; the creation of Syeyutsus Framework; and the opening of Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh Community School.

QQS is a $10.8 million federally and provincially funded project that is the result of a unique “third model” partnership between the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District and Snuneymuxw First Nation. Typically, a school would be governed by a board of trustees, but in this case, it is co-governed by NLPS and SFN. Snuneymuxw and NLPS created and implemented the associated Syeyutsus Framework (the “Framework”) to guide their working relationship, recognizing there are ways of learning beyond the current scope of Ministry of Education curriculum. The Framework is informed by the teachings of the land and Snuneymuxw Ancestors, while addressing the ever-changing complexities of today’s world and society. This work is part of a broader goal of SFN; the implementation of the Snuneymuxw Treaty of 1854.

“The school district understands that there are gifts and responsibilities that come from being in relationship with Snuneymuxw Territory,” said Charlene McKay, Board Chair, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools. “We are proud to walk together and model a way of working together that we hope will inspire meaningful relationship building within communities beyond our own.”