First TVDSB Indigenous Student Trustee elected

Posted On Friday January 12, 2018

Canada’s first Indigenous Student Trustee was elected following a debate and vote. This role will represent the voice of students who identify as First Nations, Metis or Inuit. Tehatsistahawi (Tsista) Kennedy, a grade 11 student at Saunders Secondary School was the successful candidate.

Until now, two Student Trustees have been elected annually by Thames Valley students from across the school district to provide input and represent the perspectives and voice of students on the Board of Trustees. This new position will add a third student trustee.

“This is an historic moment in Thames Valley, in education and in Canada,” said Matthew Reid, Chair of the Board. “We have much to learn to support our students in Thames Valley and this is one step toward achieving that.”

The peaceful and inclusive event included a question period, debate and prepared speech by all seven candidates. They were supported by members of their school communities, parents and community members, including JoAnn Henry, Indigenous Education Officer, Ministry of Education (London), Liz Akiwenzie, Knowledge Keeper and Grandmother, Sheri Doxtator, Former Chief Oneida Nation of the Thames, Joel Kennedy, School Program Coordinator, N’Amerind Friendship Centre and Bette Summers, Life London Learning Administrator, Oneida Nation of the Thames.

Following the election, all candidates and students gathered in a supportive circle around Tsista, as he was presented with an eagle feather, the highest honour in Indigenous culture and a bundle, to give him the tools he will need as he takes on this leadership role in the community.

Superintendent Paul McKenzie, whose portfolio includes programs supporting First Nations, Metis and Inuit students was overwhelmed by the candidate contributions. “These candidates did an excellent job of representing themselves and their community. They were mature, thoughtful and prepared for the election. It was a memorable evening for everyone.”

Student Trustees are non-voting members of the Board who express views, ideas and concerns on behalf of their peers to help the Board develop policies and make informed decisions. They also act as co-chairs on the Student Advisory Council, a committee that meets with students throughout the school year to provide updates from the Board and provide opportunities to offer input on various topics.

Affording TVDSB students the ability to influence their own education is essential to promoting academic achievement, ensuring student health and well-being, and building effective learning environments. Student Trustees represent a strong voice in the development of TVDSB programming and initiatives while supporting student empowerment in education and school culture.

For more information:

Matt Reid, Chair
Thames Valley District School Board
519-452-2000 ext. 22410

Phil Schuyler, First Nations Trustee

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