Rebecca Barley’s name will once again be on the ballot for school board trustee in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s Area C this fall.
Barley, who is seeking her fifth term as a trustee, believes that her wealth of experience on various boards representing the N’Quatqua First Nation, as well as her time on the school board, lend her a unique view into the issues.
“I'm Indigenous, and I live in my community of N'Quatqua. So that brings a whole different perspective,” Barley said. “I have a lot of history in the area and see things through a different lens.”
Barley was the first-ever status First Nations person elected as a school trustee for the Sea to Sky School District (SD48), and believes having that representation on the board is essential when making decisions, especially given the higher percentage of First Nations students in Area C.
Barley has spent most of her life in N’Quatqua, where she raised three daughters as a single mother and currently runs a small bookkeeping business.
“We have three long-serving trustees that are not seeking re-election, so I think it's important to have a little bit of continuity and stability on the board,” Barley said.
If re-elected, Barley plans to seek the chair position of the board of trustees, which she took over last year from longtime school trustee Rick Price, who held the job for several years.
“I've been board chair for the last 15 months, and it was a real changing of the guard, because the former chair had been in there for multiple years,” she said.
Barley highlighted her record of increasing graduation rates, particularly among First Nations youth in the district, and creating a work environment that has helped with staff hiring and retention.
“I've seen the growth we have had and the work we've done in the district since I've become a trustee. We have seen our graduation rates excel, particularly for Indigenous learners,” she said.
“When I joined the board, we were at 35-per-cent graduation rate … and we are now at about 95 per cent. So the data speaks for itself.”
The district’s success has not gone unnoticed by the provincial Ministry of Education, which has absconded SD48 staff members to learn the secret to their success, or even potential employees, Barley added.
“When we were doing job searches or trying to sell the positions, now we are always inundated with applications that people want to come and work for our innovative district,” she said.
In addition to her trustee experience, Barley has served as a councillor of the N’Quatqua Nation for eight years, as well as an alternative area director for SLRD Area C.
Barley is the current chair of the St'at'imc Tribal Police Board, as well as one of the representatives of the Nation in negotiations with BC Hydro.
“We have done a lot in the last 10 years, and I want to see it through,” she said. “There's always room for growth. There's more that we can do.”
The other two candidates seeking election for Area C school trustee are Margo Vaughan and Meredith Gardner.
Seven school trustee positions are up for election in SD48: two each in Whistler and Squamish, one in the Village of Pemberton and one each in Electoral Areas C and D of the SLRD (Area A and B are in School District 74).