nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət | Cultural Immersion School

nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət | Cultural Immersion School

School Website Update Jan 16 002

About nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓aýʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət

The dream of having a cultural school rooted in sqilxʷ ways of life became a reality on September 7th 2006. The opening of the school was reliant on the determination, cooperation and support of OKIB elders, parents, educators, and community members. The educational experience at nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət is unique and provides the opportunity for students to excel in sqilxʷ cultural and language learning. Teachers and instructors thoughtfully plan the academic and sqilxʷ programs meeting and exceeding provincial curriculum standards, connecting curriculum to sqilxʷ cultural perspectives. The school offers a student-centred approach to teaching and learning based on individual student strengths and interests.

Guiding Principles

n̓haʔílsnt - be respectful
k̓ək̓níyaʔx - listen
x̌əsmncutx - do your best
x̌əsɬcawt - be kind
limtmnt - be grateful

Mission Statement

nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət instills pride and inspires success
in our children through excellence in collaborative academic learning
with a focus on traditional language and cultural teaching.

Vision Statement

  • Our children to have access and excellent learning outcomes with respect to Okanagan language, knowledge and culture.
  • Our Children to have access and excellent learning outcomes with respect to provincial curriculum and world knowledge
  • Our children to learn in a safe, comfortable and supportive environment
  • Our school, our teachers, and total learning environment to reinforce, appreciate and provide a range of learning opportunities especially in connection to our territory, practices and resources
  • An education that reinforces our cultural background and identity and restores confidence in the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of our ancestors
  • Our children to be confident, fluent, culturally knowledgeable and academically capable.

What Makes nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət Great

Due to the established successful results of the educational programming in place, the school has seen an amazing amount of growth over the years. Originally starting with grades 1-4 and an enrollment of 14 students, the school quickly outgrew the single portable it was operating in. The school now offers a full Grade 1-7 program, with 4 classroom spaces and a total enrolment of 45 students. Our Band-Operated School is accredited through the First Nations School Association assessment process, and has a record of providing quality educational programming. The Teachers, Instructors, and Educational Assistants regularly attend training opportunities provided by the First Nations Education Steering Committee, to strengthen the English and Okanagan Language and Culture programs. To promote a strong Okanagan Language program, all educational staff participate in thirty minutes of language instruction a day which is specifically for adults.

Each Monday staff and students gather at the water to give thanks, or smudge at the school, and sing the Okanagan Song. The school assembly and weekly announcements are carried on with lighter hearts and a renewed appreciation for each other. The school would not be the same without the Hot Lunch Program offered three days a week. A variety of the kids favourite meals as well as traditional foods such as the berries the students have picked, and meat from the communities hunting camp are prepared with care. The Sqilxʷ Parents Club, our Parent Advisory Committee has been an integral part of the school, leading fundraising efforts, participating in field trips and cultural events and providing input on programs. Student attendance is very important to their success and awards are given out each term to those who make their best effort to be at school every day. With the wonderful amount of support surrounding each student, we see growth every day in their language abilities, leadership skills, as well as social-emotional growth and academic triumphs.

Language and Culture Thrives at nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət

It is phenomenal to witness the student’s language acquisition, love for interacting with the land, and upholding sqilxʷ ways of life in such profound ways. To see the youth playing, laughing and speaking nqilxwcen together is a joy like no other. Learning the language takes time and patience, and the students are praised for their perseverance on the daily and are given awards each year to recognize their individual achievements. Our students opt to pick up drums and play stick games at lunch time with their beautiful singing voices echoing out into the neighborhood, they extend kindness and spread humor everywhere they go. The students learn though problem-solving, movement and play, hands-on learning experiences, land and water based activities in each season, and are grounded by a multi-generational learning environment. Older students hone their leadership skills at the school and at the language nest, sharing their expertise and skills with others. The alumni who have graduated from our school have done amazingly well in their academic, employment, and personal pursuits, and have been exemplary role models in our community and beyond. Our youth are putting in the work every day to breathe life into our language revitalization efforts, and it is working because of them.

Students Drumming Singing Playing Stick Games
Students drumming, singing and playing stick games at lunch time.

Academic Success

The new BC Provincial Curriculum is broken down in to three components: Big Ideas, Curricular Competencies and Content. Programs used at the school not only meet, but exceed current provincial standards. Each student is placed in the appropriate level of programming to ensure they are working at their developmental level with a balanced amount of challenge and support. Our programs focus on the mastery of skills, and are designed to ensure students gain skills needed before moving forward.

Our Math programs are direct-instruction programs that spiral, meaning the content taught at the beginning of the year will be built up throughout the rest of the school year with regular practice and assessment. Our Literacy programs are direct-instruction programs with a high focus on fluency building, vocabulary building, and thoughtful comprehension components which promote critical thinking. Literacy and Numeracy are very important areas of learning and our staff seizes every opportunity to improve lesson delivery through training and participating in Professional Learning Communities.

Culture and Language Instructors work closely with classroom teachers to ensure sqilxʷ perspectives are included in English classes in the best way possible, using authentic resources and a trauma informed planning process. Educational experiences are made to be as hands-on, interactive, and land-based as possible. Daily physical activity is a foundational part of our programming. The school has a committed running club, completing 5-10km runs each spring. The physical education program is infused with fun and has an amazing balance of cultural aspects like archery and spear throw as well as sports like lacrosse, soccer, football and even games made by the students themselves. Student achievements are closely monitored and academic awards are given each year to highlight each individual’s growth and perseverance.

Grade 4 To 7 Students Skiing
Grade 4-7 Students enjoy skiing and snowboarding each year at Silver Star.

The Future of nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət

A new school building has been an ongoing aspiration of OKIB and steps are being taken to complete a Feasibility Study for a new school to be built to better suit the needs of present and future students. Having an established growth rate of 11% per year, we are now at a maximum capacity in our school building. With hopes to expand, OKIB has made tremendous efforts to prioritize the building of a new school for the community. An amazing amount of resiliency has been shown by staff and students, who continue to make the best out of the situation, making students feel safe and at home despite the challenges of operating in a building from the 1940’s.

The process of having a new school built is a lengthy and at times complex process, with many social and economic factors intersecting. A School Feasibility Study Committee has been formed and has representation from nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət, snc̓c̓amalaʔtn, OKIB Leadership and Executive Director, OKIB’s Community Services and Development Department, OKIB’s Operations, Lands and Housing Department, OKIB’s Communications Department and our consultants at McFarland Marceau Architects.

Every effort is being made to see this vision become a reality as expediently as possible, with the earliest opening date of a new school being in 2023. The need for a full sized gym, cafeteria, library, as well as spaces specific to culture and language, science, the arts and special needs support has been heard by our committee and we are working hard to have those elements included in the new school. To learn more about the Feasibility Study, Community Engagement Sessions, or to complete a survey, visit the School Feasibility Study web page.

Mini Pow Wow
Youth from the Immersion School, Snc̓c̓amalaʔtn & Language Nest students dance at Mini Pow Wow.

Okanagan College Powwow

Tea Picking at Big White

Grade 6 -7 s at the Sylix Hunting Camp

OKIB Cultural Immersion School
12420 Westside Rd
Vernon, V1H 2A4

Phone: 250-260-3616 250-542-1893
Email: [email protected]