1990 – 2000

The Bands of the Ktunaxa Nation are administering Local Education Agreements with the public school districts through the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Independent School System Society. Support for Ktunaxa and Kinbasket learners is increasing.

Locally developed curriculum projects are being undertaken to provide better resources to the public and Ktunaxa controlled schools. Language and cultural programming is sorely under-funded, but efforts are being made to develop introductory learning materials for use in classrooms. An multi-year Alternate Funding Agreement provides consistent funding to KKISS for a five-year period, and this means that long-term planning with committed resources can be undertaken for the first time ever.

The KISS makes a presentation to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) during its consultations. The resulting report provides a very good representation of the Ktunaxa perspective on education. The Ktunaxa believe that the education system should serve to build the Nation, one person at a time, on a foundation of cultural knowledge and pride. A Ktunaxa presenter is quoted in the report:

“When we speak of education it is not only meant that the Aboriginal person must become better educated in the non-Aboriginal school of thought. The non-Aboriginal personal must be made aware of our history, our traditional lifestyle and the downfall and resurgence of our peoples as history has evolved today. This information must become a component in the teaching of all Canadians.”[5]

Although an understanding of Aboriginal issues in education is becoming evident, financial and political support for education is not increasing and academic results are still not improving.

The Ktunaxa communities are requesting funding from the Department of Indian Affairs to conduct psycho-educational assessments and other tests on their student population in order to gain a better understanding of the needs of their learners. The results of the assessments indicate a very high rate of learning disabilities among the school-aged population. Further assessment, in partnership with outside agencies, indicates that there is a high rate of potential for fetal alcohol syndrome/fetal alcohol affects. Not much is known about this disability at this time.

The NDP government in BC recognizes aboriginal title and it indicates its willingness to begin negotiations. The Ktunaxa immediately begin preparations to participate in whatever new process is established to deal with land claims and aboriginal title.

The Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Independent School System Society receives funding from the provincial Ministry of Health to undertake a community-based pilot project examining Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAS/E). This project becomes the Community Healing and Intervention Program (CHIP), the first community intervention program in FAS/E of its kind in Canada. The effects of FAS/E are of a magnitude that is unimaginable. The Ktunaxa Nation has, for the first time ever, an understanding of the reality of its human resource capacity. All programs and services must be redefined to acknowledge the unique circumstances of individuals with FAS/E. This will be a focus of the Nation for many, many years to come.

An intense effort is made by the KKISS to provide FAS/E information to all persons and agencies that will likely play a role in the life of an FAS/E individual; a focus is placed on the education and justice systems. FAS/E learners will generally not succeed in the ‘normal’ classroom environment without special considerations required to address their needs. In spite of the demonstrated need, there is no funding for supporting these learners within the provincial special needs funding categories unless they have a secondary disability that is medically diagnosed.

The Kootenay Indian Area Council changes its name to the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Tribal Council and the member Bands continue to expand the services provided by the Tribal Council.

The Shuswap Band withdraws from the KKISS and establishes an independent learning centre. The Society’s name subsequently changes to KISS (Ktunaxa Independent School System Society). The KISS continues to act as the primary administrative office, advocate, liaison and resource development agency for education within the Ktunaxa Nation.

The Lower Kootenay Band makes the transition from a Band Operated school to an Independent School. KISS and the Lower Kootenay school system support each other’s initiatives regularly. Much progress is made in improving relationships with the public school districts, but federal and provincial policy continues to control First Nations’ education.

The KKTC and KISS participate in provincial and federal education initiatives with enthusiasm and with the continued hope of increasing the success of learners. The First Nations Congress and in turn the First Nations Summit both support education discussions and the Ktunaxa continue to strongly voice their concerns with education at these forums.

The B.C. Claims Task Force makes 19 recommendations to the First Nations Summit, federal government and provincial government, including among the recommendations the establishment of the B.C. Treaty Commission to oversee the treaty-making process.

The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) is formed and the Ktunaxa Independent School System nominates one of the founding members. The Ktunaxa participate in the committee until it becomes evident that the committee’s work is becoming political rather than technical in nature. The KKTC submits a Position Paper to the FNESC, requesting that the group provide communication and technical support to First Nations, and leav politics up the communities themselves.

The FNESC’s focus changes and the Ktunaxa representative becomes very actively involved with the committee work, eventually becoming Chair. The activities associated with this position and their impact on the work of the KISS move the discussion on education in the Ktunaxa communities to governance, rather than programming.

The B.C. Treaty Commission begins to accept claims and the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Tribal Council file a statement of intent to negotiate with the B.C. Treaty Commission. The Ktunaxa Nation proposes to approach its treaty negotiations from a community development perspective in order to expand capacity while negotiations are taking place and to be prepared for implementation. It is clearer than ever to the Ktunaxa Nation that education is key in supporting the successful negotiation and implementation of a treaty. A capacity building strategy – the Individual Training Plan Process – is implemented to guide human resource development within the Nation.

Education funding is capped along with all funding to First Nations with the introduction of Financial Transfer Agreements by the federal government. The government is caps all funding and will develop a new formula for allocating this funding to the existing programs. Additional costs due to population increases and increases in provincial tuition rates will become the responsibility of the Band under these funding agreements, set for a five-year period. The Bands oppose this new funding regime. These new arrangements will replace all existing funding agreements. Only Bands and Tribal Councils will be eligible for funding under this new regime.

The federal government publishes their response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The government’s ‘Red Book’ is presented as an action plan and includes options for addressing aboriginal issues. These issues are described in four ways: renewing partnerships, strengthening aboriginal governance, developing new fiscal relationships and supporting strong communities, people and economies.

The KISS is no longer be a viable organization under the new funding regime. With the expiration of the Alternate Funding Agreement, the KISS experiences a severe reduction in the amount of funding made available to support education. This funding cut results in the immediate reduction of direct services to students within the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory. The momentum of 10 years of political and technical activity, coordinated by an accountable and conscientious Board and staff, is halted. The KISS begins to transfer the technical capacity to the communities to manage those aspects of education previously administered by KISS.

The KISS coordinates the interests of the Tribal Departments and develops a proposal to address community development following an integrated service-delivery model. This proposal is discussed in draft with federal and provincial representatives. The federal official believes that it is exactly what Gathering Strength is designed to support, however it is not the way the government intends to implement their action plan.

An Interim Measure in Education is prepared and tabled with the Ktunaxa Nation Treaty Table, in response to the reduction of funding for education within the Ktunaxa Nation at such a critical time in the development of the Nation. The Tripartite Table on Education (FNESC, Federal and Provincial governments) supports the idea of pilot projects to research education jurisdiction and the Ktunaxa indicate their desire to participate. The Ktunaxa are awarded funding to carry out a project on jurisdiction in education.