nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət | Cultural Immersion School
nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət| Cultural Immersion School update
School resumed the week of September 14-18, with a weeklong cultural camp. Students and staff welcomed the opportunity to reunite again, outdoors, while practicing social distancing and following our school COVID guidelines.
Formal classes began on Monday, September 21. Class groups are spread-out over several buildings in order to keep cohorts small. Larger class groups were allocated to bigger classrooms including the New Horizon’s building. The nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə staff and students are all extremely grateful to OKIB New Horizon Elders for giving-up their space for the grade 6-7 class for the next 10 months.
Kindergarten and grade 1 students are located in the school classroom at snc’c’amala?tn. This is a temporary set-up until OKIB can hire a full-time kindergarten teacher. Ms. Meyer-Shelly (Grade 1 teacher) willingly stepped-up to teach the K5-Gr1 group in the interim with the expert support of EA’s Jennifer Kuric and Kristen Mitchell. Grade 2-3 (Ms. Saddleman-Joe) will continue to occupy the downstairs space of the nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə building and the grades 4-5 (Ms. Meyer and Ms. Tegart) will occupy the upstairs space along with the language and culture team (Mr. Richard and Ms. Gregoire) office space. Teachers are encouraged to use the outdoor classroom space as often as possible as COVID risk is lower outdoors than when indoors, where fresh air is abundant.
Outdoor classrooms were installed at both nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə and at snc’c’amala?tn. These provide outdoor learning environments where children can learn together with being masked or behind a Plexiglas desk divider. All desks within nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə have been installed with Plexiglas shields, so students can work, when sitting at their desk, without having to wear a mask. However, masks must be worn when moving within the buildings and on the bus.
All education buildings, including ckʷu kʷ ƛ̓lap il skʷkʷƛ̓ilt naɬ ƛ̓x̌əx̌ƛ̓x̌ap (Language Nest) and snc’c’amala?tn (Early Childhood Centre), have been installed with state of the art air purification systems to will destroy 99.9% of viral pathogens, greatly helping to reduce any risk of viral transmission.
Along with the new busing protocols, regular hand washing, and social distancing, students and staff hope to keep the school open. These buildings are all arguably safer than any other buildings on and off-reserve.
In the event that the school and community must close due to the pandemic our students and staff are ready to take their lessons online as all students were issued with Google Chromebooks so that learning can continue from home. nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə is ready for the 2nd wave of this pandemic.
Finally, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) now recognize nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə as the offical name for OKIB’s Cultural Immersion School. Historically, nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə had used the snc’c’amala?tn name, as the school had originally morphed out of the Early Childhood Centre. This has created a lot of confusion between ISC and OKIB especially with the plans for a new school buildings. The proper name nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtə (Head of the lake place of learning our sqilxw ways) is now recognized by the federal and provincial authorities.
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Education, Language and Culture Director
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 7, 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.
n̓haʔílsnt - be respectful
k̓ək̓níyaʔx - listen
x̌əsmncutx - do your best
x̌əsɬcawt - be kind
limtmnt - be grateful
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.
- 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 learn 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.
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 5-10 km 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.
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.
Learning in the Classroom and Beyond
Okanagan College Pow Wow
Tea Picking at Big White
Grade 6 and 7s 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]