Five Yale Secondary students recognized as the 2024 Indigenous Role Models Yale Secondary - 2024 Indigenous Role Models

Indigenous Cultural Support and Success is Strong at Yale Secondary

February 28, 2024

Yale has a history of strong support for its Indigenous students. As a staff, we acknowledge the need to learn more about Indigenous culture in the spirit of being culturally sustaining.  

Our Indigenous support team, Jessica Richardson, Cyndi Orth, and Rachael Riggs, work tirelessly to connect students with their cultural backgrounds and support their learning journeys and our students are finding success. This Fall, 5 Yale students were selected as Indigenous Role Models, and we are so proud of them and their accomplishments. These students have positively impacted Yale and the surrounding community. Here are just some of the many things they have done:  

  • Emily Silver-Douglas (Semá:th First Nation & Cheam First Nation): peer tutored students at Yale, participated in the Big Cousin program at Fraser Middle, and represented the Abbotsford School District at the Inspire Conference.    
  • Chiemela Anumba (Cree First Nation): conducted a vital learning experience for Yale staff on Truth and Reconciliation Day, is part of the Indigenous Leaders and Allies of Yale, mentors Yale students and assists with Elders’ needs, as well as co-started Yale’s Black Connections group.  
  • Meishon Racette (Haida Nation): volunteers in the Youth Centre, teaching others games and weaving, and has learned traditional drumming, singing and dancing, carving, painting and traditional ways to live off the land.  
  • Brooke Hayden (Skwah First Nation): is involved in the Indigenous Leaders and Allies of Yale group, volunteered at Sema:th First Nation Longhouse, event preparation, making cards and lunches for others, and helping with our staff Truth and Reconciliation Day activities.  
  • Ian Silver (Semá:th First Nation, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Musqueam Indian Band & Sts’ailes): attends the Carpentry program and teaches his family the Halq'eméylem he learns in school. 

These students aspire to attend post-secondary and positively impact their communities. They also say that the connection with their culture is in large part because of the dedication of Yale’s Indigenous Support team.   

Jessica, Cyndi and Rachael work hard to support and advocate for their students by providing meals, cultural activities, academic support and regular meetings with admin and counselling staff to share information and monitor student progress. To ease transitions, Rachael helps at Fraser Middle, to build connections with the grade 8 students and Cyndi helps grade 12 students with their post-secondary explorations and aspirations.  

We have made some changes at our school to increase our Indigenous knowledge and support our journey towards Truth and Reconciliation. As a staff, we have agreed to say the Land Acknowledgement daily as part of our announcements or in class by staff and students. Also, information on various Indigenous topics is highlighted in the weekly staff newsletter below the Acknowledgment and sent home to parents in the monthly newsletter. Staff have also participated in cultural activities that increase our capacity to be Indigenous allies to our students.  

In the wise words of Chiemela Anumba: “Learning is the key to life, and it’s the best way to create change.”  At Yale, learning about Indigenous culture isn’t just for the students; it’s for the staff, too.  

Yale Secondary