FNSA AGM and Virtual Conference 2021

Thank you to everyone who attended the conference this year!

The First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and FNSA Annual Conference are opportunities to explore a wide range of effective practices for classroom instruction, school administration, and professional growth.

In April 2021, these events were offered through Zoom videoconferencing to ensure the health and safety of schools, communities, and staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • April 15, 2021, 4:00 to 6:00 pm, FNSA Annual General Meeting
  • April 16, 2021, 9:00 am to 3:15 pm, FNSA Annual Conference, Power of the Past, Force of the Future


This event is now complete. Thank you to all who attended!


For reference, see a printable version of the event program.

Friday, April 16, 2021
FNSA Annual Conference

9:00-9:15 am                Traditional Welcome, Rebecca Campbell Duncan

9:15-9:45 am                Opening Remarks, Clayton Grice, FNSA President

9:45-10:45 am              Keynote, Monique Gray Smith, The Power of One

10:45-11:00 am           Break/Transition into Workshops

11:00 am-12:00 pm   Workshops, Session 1

1AA School of Thought: Nurturing Self-Sufficiency Through Farming
1BBuilding a Language Program
1CConnecting School Curriculum to Community Values and Goals
1DExploring Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Inclusivity in First Nation Schools
1ETrauma and Stress: The Effects on the Brain
1FPersonalized Pro-D Driven by Collaboration and Professional Growth

12:00-1:00 pm             Lunch Break

1:00-2:00 pm                Keynote, Holly Clark, The New Normal and the Future of Education

2:00-2:15 pm                Break/Transition into Workshops

2:15-3:15 pm                Workshops , Session 2

2AA School of Thought: Nurturing Self-Sufficiency Through Farming
2BBuilding a Language Program
2CConnecting School Curriculum to Community Values and Goals
2DExploring Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Inclusivity in First Nation Schools
2ETrauma and Stress: The Effects on the Brain
2FSpecial Session for School Leadership – registration link (only principals and school leaders eligible to attend)

Keynote Speakers

Monique Gray Smith, The Power of One

In this hope-centred keynote address, Monique Gray Smith will share her personal journey as an author and how the words of a stranger, “I look forward to reading your book one day,” changed her life’s trajectory. Monique will share stories from her books and discuss how stress and trauma may be impacting students and school staff.

Monique is a proud Mom to teenage twins and an award-winning, best-selling author. Her first published novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, won the 2014 Canadian Burt Award for First Nation, Métis and Inuit Literature. Since then, Monique has written six books that cover a broad spectrum of ages, topics, and emotions. Her novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights was longlisted for Canada Reads 2021. Monique is well known for her contributions to the journey of Truth and Reconciliation, including being honoured with the 2019 City of Victoria Leadership Award for Reconciliation. She is an appointed member of the Board of Directors of Royal Roads University and the Minister’s Advisory Council for Indigenous Women for the Government of BC. Monique is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish and has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 29 years.

Holly Clark, The New Normal and the Future of Education

Holly Clark’s keynote address will explore how our students are the first real digital citizens – born into a world with computers, smartphones and tablets.  Their futures are digital, and their successes will depend on knowing how to use digital tools to build businesses, communicate effectively, and work productively from remote locations.  This story-filled keynote will look at how we can better prepare our students for a future where technology will become even smarter and more prevalent.

Holly is an education thought-leader, international speaker, best selling author and advocate for students. She is a twenty-plus-year educator who has spent over fifteen years teaching in a 1:1 classroom and over five years as an administrator in both public and private schools. She holds a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Educational Technology from Columbia University in New York City. Her passion is helping teachers create classrooms where students want to learn and can become the agents of their own thinking and understanding.


A School of Thought: Nurturing Self-Sufficiency Through Farming

Todd Morrow, Principal, Stein Valley Nlakapamux School

This workshop introduces the Stein Valley Nlakapamux agriculture and animal husbandry program. It will explain a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of the program and give tips on how to start a program like this within your own school. We will take you on a tour of the school farm, show where we started, where we are, and where we are going. There will also be an opportunity for questions and answers.

Building a Language Program

Dave Mason, Language Department Head, Ditidaht Community School
Robert Joseph, Former Chief and Treaty Negotiator, Ditidaht Nation
Jack Thompson, Former Chief and Treaty Negotiator, Ditidaht Nation
Tina Joseph, Language Society Director and Department Coordinator, Dididaht Nation

Learn how members of Ditidaht governance prioritized language education in treaty negotiations and community policy planning over the last decade, establishing the foundation of a successful kindergarten to adult program. The department now features a kindergarten immersion class, K-12 language as subject classes, adult classes, an online learning system, online dictionary, and extensive curriculum production that blends western pedagogy with Ditidaht cultural teachings. Our workshop will share our experiences building resources in partnership with a handful of remaining fluent speaking elders, creating teaching capacity by mentoring community members to teach in the school and using technology in the classroom to promote learning opportunities for people both living in-community and living at large.

Connecting School Curriculum to Community Values and Goals

Clifford Dorion, Teacher, ʔaq̓amnik̓ School
Eryn Geddes, Principal, ʔaq̓amnik̓ School

Using the community’s Strategic Plan Framework, ʔaq̓amnik̓ School has been creating a progressive school-wide curriculum that focuses on teaching the values, goals and objectives within the Strategic Plan and aligning them with the BC Curriculum’s Core Competencies and Content. The presentation will share the factors that inspired the project, the funding sources utilized, and the anticipated outcomes.

Exploring Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Inclusivity in First Nation Schools

Scout Gray, SOGI 1 2 3 Program Lead, ARC Foundation
Jen Shortt, School Counsellor at W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership School
Cas Bordignon, Educator, Seabird Island Community School
Katie Croxall, Educator, Seabird Island Community School

The aim of this workshop is to facilitate discussion and identify strengths, as well as areas of need, to increase SOGI-inclusive education. Workshop facilitators will provide case-study examples of implementation based on their own personal experiences. Participants will reflect on their own educational settings and what goals might exist for creating more inclusive spaces for all students. The workshop will also assist in the development of a SOGI-focused First Nation schools educator network, which aims to support the implementation of SOGI policy, sharing resources, and deepening the level of inclusivity in education. Using SOGI 1 2 3 as a guide, participants will come away with resources that may be used in their own schools as well as ways to access additional school supports.

Trauma and Stress: The Effects on the Brain

Josh Lockhart, Aboriginal Child & Youth Mental Health Clinician and School Counsellor at Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Child & Family Services and ʔaq̓amnik̓
Tod Lunan, Student Services, ʔaq̓amnik̓ School
Marisa Phillips, Administrative Assistant and Language & Culture Advocate, ʔaq̓amnik̓ School

In this session, there will be an overview of the following elements: how trauma affects the brain; what does a stressed trauma brain look like?; soothing the stressed brain; and school and home-based interventions.

Personalized Pro-D Driven by Collaboration and Professional Growth Plans

Aaron Burgess, Executive Director, Kyah Wiget Education Society

This workshop is designed to give educators suggestions on how to continue with professional development in the COVID era. It connects the Professional Growth Plan process and professional development opportunities to provide educators with insight about how best to support their professional learning. By becoming more aware of what opportunities we can utilize during COVID and what professional growth can look like, educators can take control of their own learning and be able to meet and achieve goals they set for themselves.

Special Session for School Leadership

Interested school Principals/leaders are welcome to attend a session on student reporting during COVID.  Considering the on-going impact of COVID-19 on schooling this year, many school leaders are indicating that collecting evidence of student learning has been challenging.  During this session, leaders are invited to break out into groups to discuss successes, challenges, and ideas.  This session will be a sharing opportunity only.

Event Contact

Toll-free in BC: 1-877-422-3672  P: 604-925-6087  estefanias@fnesc.ca  

If you need assistance during the event, a link to our Zoom help room will be provided.