An education agreement between the Rainbow District School Board and several Sudbury-area First Nations has been renewed.

It ensures that several Indigenous communities in the Anishinabek Nation will have cultural and language instruction in schools.

Ten First Nation partners from northern Ontario put their signatures on the renewal of the education service agreement with the school board that serves Sudbury, Espanola, Manitoulin Island, and Shining Tree.

Norm Blaseg is the school board's director of Education.

"We have very similar visions, in that we want our kids to graduate. And we are just very fortunate that we have this mutual desire in order to see our children go through a system that has a good opportunity to make sure that we have kids coming out of the school system that are graduates and that are very productive," said Blaseg.

Linda Debassige is the Rainbow school board's First Nations trustee. She says this agreement is not only for students to achieve higher graduation rates, but also to improve the relationship between Indigenous communities and the school board

"Inclusion of our language, and our culture and traditions into the curriculum; as well as ensure that the services are being done in a positive and good way for the benefit of our students," said Debassige.

And new this year, a combined effort between the Rainbow District School Board and First Nations was launched. It's a plan called Truth and Reconciliation - Commitment to Action.

"There are very unique concerns and challenges, and we recognize that as a board. And we said 'so let’s find out really what is it within our own community that we are looking for and what are the things we can do together to facilitate some of the concerns and challenges that were associated with truth and reconciliation,'" said Blaseg.

"Everybody has a responsibility to that implementation. It's not a one-sided coin. It’s based on collaboration, reconciliation, trust and truth,” said Debassige.

The commitment to action is a five-year plan, and it hopes to address four areas:

  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Anishinabe language
  • Indigenous culture
  • Race relations and healing