All posts by John Lewis

Brad Baker selected by a national jury for a Guiding the Journey Indigenous Educator Award in Leadership

Brad Baker is the District Administrator of Aboriginal Education and Safe and Caring Schools in the North Vancouver School District, and a member of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).  When Brad joined the North Vancouver School District in 1995, he was the first Aboriginal educator.

After seeing first-hand the struggles that many First Nations youth had with education, Brad developed a strong desire to become a role model for his local community and to provide support for improving the Nations’ educational opportunities. The personal pain and hardship that many of his Elders faced has had a lasting impact on Brad and he does not want the issue of residential schools to be swept under the carpet; he wants it to remain at the forefront of education today.

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Brad’s personal and professional journey has been mentored by his parents, who have both been inspirations to him, and especially his father Harry, who is a residential school survivor; the Squamish Nation Education Department and Deborah Jacobs, who has pushed Brad to be the best that he can be; the North Vancouver School District and Superintendent John Lewis, who has played an active role in Brad’s development as an Aboriginal educator, and implemented an Aboriginal Education Program for all educators and learners.

Brad remains true to the strong values and principles that were instilled in him by his family and the First Nations’ communities.  As an educator, he believes that integrity and trust are the most meaningful attributes that he brings to his work with students, parents, staff, and the North Shore communities.  Brad would like to see Aboriginal Education become an integral part of everyday life in schools across Canada and to instill within every Canadian greater knowledge and respect for the proud and rich cultural heritage of the First Nations peoples.

In Brad Baker’s words: “I come from a strong Aboriginal community and must always remember that what I do today will impact future generations.”

Brad will receive his Indigenous Educator Award in Leadership at the National Gathering of Indigenous Education in Toronto in November.

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Brad and his father Tsnomot (Harry).
Brad shares his father’s traditional Skwxwú7mesh name.

World Teacher’s Day – October 5, 2014

On behalf of the Board of Education and the Executive Committee:

October 5, 2014 is World Teachers’ Day.  In 1994, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, inaugurated October 5th as an annual day to celebrate the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels.  World Teachers’ Day represents a significant symbol of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development. UNESCO’s World Teacher’s Day theme is ”Invest in the future, Invest in teachers” and addresses the critical role that teachers play in the development of the younger generation, the need to increase the number of teachers today, and the importance of teachers to society.

Along with over 100 countries around the world, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and its Member organizations across the country celebrate World Teachers’ Day through a public awareness campaign that highlights the contributions of the teaching profession. The Federation’s 2014 motto is “It all starts with a qualified teacher”.


Joanne Robertson is first graduate of Transformational Change Doctor of Education Program at SFU

SFU has introduced a new graduate diploma program in Advanced Professional Studies, developed in partnership with the North Vancouver School District: Frameworks for Innovative Teacher Collaboration and Inquiry. The program was inspired by Joanne Robertson, Director of Learning Services, and her thesis titled: Passion-Based Learning: The Design and Implementation of a New Approach to Project-Based Learning (PBL) for Alternative Education. Joanne successfully defended her thesis in November 2013 and was the first graduate of the Transformational Change Doctor of Education Program at SFU. Click HERE to view thesis.

Joanne’s research on project based learning in an Alternative School emphasizes the importance of positive teacher-student relationships, staff collaboration, and administrative support in student engagement. She was recently featured on the SFU Faculty of Education website: We are extremely proud of Joanne’s work!

The Frameworks for Innovative Teacher Collaboration and Inquiry diploma program will  be offered this fall.


2014 AFK Scholarship Winners


I am pleased to announce the receipients of the 2014 Artists for Kids scholarships:

  • Golnar Mohmood-Khalesi, Carson Graham Secondary School – Robert Bateman: Future Teacher Award
  • Hannah deBourcier, Argyle Secondary School – Jack Shadbolt: Multiple Arts Excellence Award
  • Annette Cheung, Argyle Secondary School – North Shore Community Foundation-Gordon Smith Outstanding Visual Artist Prize

The scholarship committee had a difficult selection process but did agree on the outstanding quality of work presented by the final recipients.

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

Return to school

September 19, 2014

I am delighted to report that the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has now ratified the tentative agreement with the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).  While we await ratification of the Agreement by Boards of Education later this afternoon, we will proceed with the start to the 2014/15 school year with school opening on Monday.   

All schools in North Vancouver will open on Monday, September 22nd, for students in Grades 1 through 12, with a shortened first-day schedule.  This will enable our schools to confirm student enrolment, review classroom organization, update student timetables, where necessary, and prepare for full days of instruction on Tuesday through Friday.  Parents should check school websites and posted notices for school-specific schedules and operating hours.

Kindergarten students will be welcomed to our elementary schools starting on Tuesday, September 23rd with the Gradual Entry process established within the School Act.  The first week of Kindergarten is an important transition for our youngest children.  During the Gradual Entry period, Kindergarten teachers are able to work with smaller groups of children for shorter periods of time to help them develop independence in classroom and school routines. The details of the schedule for attendance of Kindergarten students will be provided by each elementary school. 

Our main priority for the coming week is to welcome back our students and staff and to re-establish normal operations as quickly as possible.  We appreciate your continued patience and understanding as we strive to achieve a smooth start to this school year. 

I will be providing a further update next week as additional clarification is provided by the Ministry of Education regarding instructional time and decisions related to report cards from last June.  There are numerous other details to be communicated in the coming weeks ahead. 

We look forward to welcoming everyone back to school and a productive week ahead. 

A print copy of this letter is available here.

September 1, 2014 letter to parents/guardians

September 1, 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Subject: schools not opening for instruction on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This letter is to confirm that North Vancouver schools will not be open for instruction on Tuesday, September 2.  We expect that teachers will not report to work and that our schools will be behind picket lines.  This is deeply disappointing news for our students, families, staff, and Board of Education.

Efforts over this past weekend to achieve a settlement of the ongoing labour dispute between the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) were unsuccessful.  As the distance between the two parties continues to be significant, the resolution of this dispute remains uncertain.  We remain hopeful that progress will be achieved in the near future to work towards a settlement.

We encourage families to make alternate arrangements for their children, as necessary, during the continuing strike action. Although principals and vice-principals will be in schools, they will be unable to provide students with instruction or supervision.  We respectfully ask that parents do not bring children to schools for the duration of the strike.

It is our current understanding that pre-schools and daycares operating on school sites will be open and parents will be allowed to cross picket lines to escort their children to daycares and pre-schools.  Please contact your daycare and/or pre-school provider to review opening and closing times and procedures.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during these difficult times.

We will continue to keep you informed through direct messages and through our school district website at



Superintendent of Schools, North Vancouver School District

August 29, 2014 letter to parents and guardians

August 29, 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians,

RE: Preparing for September

This letter is a follow-up to my message of August 25th to update you on the current labour dispute and provide information about the potential for schools to open, or not, on Tuesday, September 2nd.

The possibility of mediation

Representatives of the British Columbia School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) met yesterday, and are meeting again today, with mediator Vince Ready. The intention of these talks is to assess the readiness of both parties for mediation. Depending on developments over the weekend, there is a possibility that school may open on Tuesday for our standard shortened opening day.

When will parents know if schools will open?

Please visit on Monday evening for an announcement to confirm whether or not school will be open on Tuesday the 2nd.

We realize and respect that teachers have not been at work for a long time and that schools are not fully prepared for our regular opening procedures. However, as soon as this year’s opening date is confirmed, we will welcome staff and students back, go through our first day and begin the work of the year ahead. Teachers and support staff are experienced and skilled in addressing the demands of this time of year, and principals and vice-principals have well-developed routines in place.  Attached please find a FAQ for further information on this year’s start-up procedures.

Keeping informed

I will write again next week and school principals are also in the process of sending important information and direction for the start of the school year. Whether or not our start date is delayed, please take the time to read these messages in order to assist us with our opening procedures and the smoothest start possible for students under the circumstances.

We appreciate your continued patience and understanding.



Superintendent of Schools, North Vancouver School District



September 2014 start-up


Q: Is it still possible that schools will open on September 2nd?

A: Yes. If an agreement is reached for a negotiated settlement, or a lifting of strike/lockout action while mediation is underway, then we will be ready to open schools on September 2nd.


Q: How will I know if school will open on September 2nd?

A: We encourage you to follow the media for any updates that may occur in the discussions scheduled for the weekend. We will also post any information to our website, as soon as it has been confirmed. Other information sources available to consult are:


Q: Who should I contact to voice my concerns regarding the current labour dispute?

A: You may wish to express your concerns to:


Q: If school does not open on September 2nd, can I bring my child to school anyway?

A: We cannot provide instruction or appropriate supervision without our full staff complement, and therefore ask that parents do not bring or send children to school until our staff teams are once again in place and school is fully operational.  Please make alternate arrangements, as necessary.


Q: How can I get more information on registering my child for school?

A: Student registration information is available at:


Q: If the labour dispute continues, can I still register my child for school?

A: Yes. Please ensure you have consulted our registration information for directions and guidance on what to bring to register your child/children for school.





Two Carson Graham alumni in women’s World Cup rugby final

Congratulations to Team Canada and especially to Carson Graham alumni Andrea Burk and Hilary Leith, who both started in the women’s World Cup rugby final on Sunday.

Andrea Burk graduated in 2000 and continued her studies at Acadia University.  After graduating from Acadia she moved back to North Vancouver to play for the Capilano Rugby Club and has been a fixture on national teams over the last 6 years.  She continues to give back to the game by volunteer coaching at various levels of rugby including Carson Graham.

Hilary Leith graduated in 2001 and continued her studies in the USA on a wrestling scholarship. After graduating from university Hilary also returned to North Vancouver to play for Capilano Rugby Club. In recent years she has been playing at Saracens Rugby Club in England.  Hilary has been a member of national teams since 2000. She also volunteers her time coaching girls’ rugby.

Finishing second place in the World Cup final was a great moment for Carson Graham and Canada. As district administrator Brad Baker shared with me,  “I coached both Andrea and Hilary while they attended Carson Graham, and I am extremely proud of how hard they have worked to achieve their dreams of playing for Canada in the World Cup.  The Carson Graham Girls Rugby program is proud of what these players have accomplished. They are an inspiration.”

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Hilary Leith and her dad

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Andrea Burk

Artists for Kids Receives Generous Donation

At the Public Board Meeting on June 17th Board Chair Franci Stratton was presented with a cheque in the amount of $50,000 by Richard Savage, Smith Foundation Board of Directors Vice President. Founded in 2002, the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists was established to support the North Vancouver School District’s Artists for Kids Program. To date, the foundation has directly contributed over $750,000 toward this quality art education program. We thank the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for their ongoing support of Artists for Kids  and its enrichment opportunities for our students. For more information, please visit:

Board Chair Franci Stratton, Smith Foundation Board Vice President Richard Savage, Smith Foundation Exective Director Astid Heyerdahl

International Aboriginal Day Celebrations

Thank you to Brad Baker for providing this post:

Queen Mary, Norgate and Westview hosted the first ever combined schools Aboriginal Day Celebrations on Thursday, June 12th. The event took place at the new Queen Mary Elementary School with over 800 people in attendance which included students, staff, community members and elders.

The day opened with all participants gathering in the gym to hear a traditional welcome from the Squamish Nation.  Students were then led through workshops hosted by various First Nations and Metis people. Student leaders from Carson Graham assisted the younger students as they moved from station to station.  Workshops included: lacrosse, bracelet making with beads, cedar necklaces, story- telling, drumming and singing.

The afternoon ended with a performance by the Eagle Song Dancers followed by the Metis performance group Compaigni V’ni Dansi.

It was a great event enjoyed by all. Special thank you to the planning committee, Bill Reid, Barbara Leigh, and Lisa Upton, and to all those involved in the celebrations.