The Snuneymuxw First Nation is launching legal action against the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district over the district's controversial 10-year facilities plan recently adopted by the school board.
Snuneymuxw Chief Doug White said the district adopted the plan without "proper engagement and process" with the First Nation.
He said the legal action will be filed in the next four to six weeks and will challenge the process the district followed in its deliberations and the "flawed outcome" that resulted.
School board chairman Jamie Brennan called the legal action "baseless."
The announcement of the lawsuit comes as members of the Save Cedar Schools Coalition are preparing to present their case to trustees at the school board's regular meeting tonight in an effort to keep Cedar Secondary School open and prevent it from
being converted into an elementary school.
A meeting hosted by the coalition on Monday night drew approximately 300 people to hear the results of the group's research into the facilities plan, and how the coalition members believe the decision to close Cedar secondary and a number of small elementary schools in the area were based on faulty information.
"It's unfortunate this course of action has to be taken, but the conduct of the school district has left us with no choice," White said of the lawsuit.
"In this day and age, when the long history of harm to First Nations children through the residential schools is finally coming to light, it's unfortunate we have to fight so hard to be included in important decisions that impact our children."
Brennan said the Snuneymuxw were offered several opportunities to engage in the process when the facilities plan was being prepared but never got involved, so the district is not at fault if the First Nation feels it was left out of the process.
Steve Rae, a spokesman for the SCSC, said the group's research indicates that the school trustees were not given accurate information to base their decisions to close Cedar school.
He said the primary reasons for the district to close Cedar school and move its students to other facilities is to improve academic outcomes, as well as to save money. Rae said the group's research indicate that neither outcomes should be expected.
The meeting tonight starts at 6 p.m. in the gym at Nanaimo District Secondary School.
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