Prince George, BC
Four years ago less a month I was running a huge Open Space event here in Prince George, in fact in the building that right outside my hotel room window. Called “Seeds of Change” the event was a kick off for the urban Aboriginal Strategy, a community driven and led process intended to begin and seed projects that would make a difference in the lives of the urban Aboriginal community in this northern city of 80,000 people.
One of the participants at that event was Ben Berland, who was at the time working with the Prince George school district as an Aboriginal coordinator. Ben had a vision of doing something really different within the education system here in PG. He built upon a long standing recommendation to start a different kind of school. He attracted a number of interested folks at the Open Space and moved his project idea forward.
A couple of years later, a task force was struck to study options for systemic change in the school system and one of their recommendations was to establish a primary Aboriginal Choice School within the school district.
The choice school idea is based on some very successful models in Edmonton and Winnipeg. Getting it rolling has been a lot of work for many people here in Prince George, but tonight was the first of four consultation cafes we are running with four inner city school communities to find out what it would take to make a choice school successful in this city.
Ben, who is now working with the local Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council showed up tonight to hold some space with us and help run some small group conversations. When he saw me the first thing he did was to remind me that this whole idea – four years in germination – had started at the Seeds of Change event.
This whole choice school initiative is a huge undertaking and it feels like in many ways the community here is just beginning its work, starting to engage in earnest with the complexities of finally implementing the idea that gained momentum across the street four years ago.
Things take time. It’s interesting that we know that and we forget it at the same time. We crave immediate results for our ideas. When we forget that things take time, we forget everything that has gone on to take us to the point where we are finally able to start something and we forget the people that laid the groundwork for things. So tonight I am sitting here grateful for Ben’s reminder about where things come from, and what it takes for big shifts to happen. It takes hard work, and a firm conviction and most of all, it takes time.