Friday, September 29, 2017 – Canada's first Indigenous Student Trustee was elected
following a debate and vote. This role will represent the voice of students who
identify as First Nations, Metis or Inuit. Tehatsistahawi (Tsista) Kennedy, a grade
11 student at Saunders Secondary School was the successful candidate.
Until now, two Student Trustees have been elected annually by Thames Valley students
from across the school district to provide input and represent the perspectives
and voice of students on the Board of Trustees. This new position will add a third
"This is an historic moment in Thames Valley, in education and in Canada," said
Matthew Reid, Chair of the Board. "We have much to learn to support our students
in Thames Valley and this is one step toward achieving that."
The peaceful and inclusive event included a question period, debate and prepared
speech by all seven candidates. They were supported by members of their school communities,
parents and community members, including JoAnn Henry, Indigenous Education Officer,
Ministry of Education (London), Liz Akiwenzie, Knowledge Keeper and Grandmother,
Sheri Doxtator, Former Chief Oneida Nation of the Thames, Joel Kennedy, School Program
Coordinator, N'Amerind Friendship Centre and Bette Summers, Life London Learning
Administrator, Oneida Nation of the Thames.
Following the election, all candidates and students gathered in a supportive circle
around Tsista, as he was presented with an eagle feather, the highest honour in
Indigenous culture and a bundle, to give him the tools he will need as he takes
on this leadership role in the community.
Superintendent Paul McKenzie, whose portfolio includes programs supporting First
Nations, Metis and Inuit students was overwhelmed by the candidate contributions.
"These candidates did an excellent job of representing themselves and their community.
They were mature, thoughtful and prepared for the election. It was a memorable evening
Student Trustees are non-voting members of the Board who express views, ideas and
concerns on behalf of their peers to help the Board develop policies and make informed
decisions. They also act as co-chairs on the Student Advisory Council, a committee
that meets with students throughout the school year to provide updates from the
Board and provide opportunities to offer input on various topics.
Affording TVDSB students the ability to influence their own education is essential
to promoting academic achievement, ensuring student health and well-being, and building
effective learning environments. Student Trustees represent a strong voice in the
development of TVDSB programming and initiatives while supporting student empowerment
in education and school culture.