Schools in Renfrew County will soon hope to add an indigenous voice to their programs.

The Renfrew County District School Board voted last week to include a new indigenous trustee onto the board. Board Chair Susan Humphries said that there is already a strong Indigenous presence in the RCDSB and that this will solidify that relationship. She says the board works very closely with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, and that this trustee could help expand what is already offered at the Board’s schools. She says so far the Algonquins have helped plan culturally appropriate events, as well as help offer native studies courses to Eganville Public School and Opeongo High School.

Humphries hopes the new trustee will help Indigenous students feel more included, and hopes it will let students who don’t identify as indigenous feel more comfortable doing so. She says that is on top of bringing cultural awareness to all corners of the district and not just in certain pockets. Humphries also pointed to a recommendation in the recent Truth and Reconciliation commission that suggested offering more indigenous based education. She hopes appointing an indigenous trustee will help towards that goal and be a benefit to all students.

Humphries says the board of trustees is really looking forward to the new addition, and hopes that the new trustee’s input will help when the Board begins looking at their new strategic plan. She says the Board has reached out to Chief Whiteduck of Pikwakanagan and expects the Algonquins to appoint someone to the board. They will also wait on the Ministry of Education on a new indigenous curriculum so they can align with what they are recommending.