Aboriginal Culture and Language Support diploma

Why consider the ACLS diploma?
The Aboriginal Culture and Language Support diploma program is focused on providing the knowledge, skills, and perspectives required for employment as an Aboriginal support worker. As an ACLS worker, your unique understanding of and sensitivity to the values, beliefs, and needs of the students' Aboriginal community, as well as the needs of the education system, will make you a valuable asset to the schools in which you work.

There are approximately 5,000 Aboriginal students in Kindergarten – grade 12 in the eastern Fraser Valley region, and all of them would benefit from the involvement of an ACLS graduate. British Columbia educators recognize the contribution that Aboriginal support workers make in assisting Aboriginal students to achieve greater academic success and respect traditional cultural teachings.

Who is the ACLS diploma program for?
This two-year program is culturally relevant and responsive to the needs of the Aboriginal community. It is designed to meet the requirements of individuals currently employed or seeking employment in K-12 Aboriginal education, both in public and First Nation-operated band schools as Aboriginal support workers.

How can this diploma fit into my ongoing education?
The ACLS diploma program can ladder into the Developmental Standard Term Certificate (DSTC), a 90-credit teaching certificate designed by the local Halq’emeylem language authority (Sto:lo Shxwlélì) in partnership with SFU. It is approved by the BC College of Teachers as a certification requirement to teach this Aboriginal language in elementary schools.

Upon completion of the ACLS diploma, students are able to further their education in several ways. Those who have made the decision to ladder into the DSTC can continue their studies to complete a Bachelor of Education degree. As a second option, graduates may choose to pursue a degree in General Studies, Social Work, or Arts.

Why should I study for my ACLS diploma at UFV?
UFV is the only post-secondary institution in BC’s Lower Mainland to offer a diploma program specifically for Aboriginal support workers. Learn more about UFV.

What kinds of courses will I take?
Click here to see the program outline for the ACLS diploma at UFV.

What are the entrance requirements?
The academic entrance requirements for this program are the following:

  • B.C. secondary school Dogwood Diploma or equivalent (ABE Provincial, Advanced), or mature students (19 years or older) who have completed at least two of the Arts courses from the UFV ACLS course outline: HSER 120, HSER 200, ENG 105, ENG 170, HIST 103, MATH 105 or lab Science course.
  • Completion of the prerequisite for UFV MATH 105.
  • Completion of the prerequisite for UFV ENGL 105.

Other entrance requirements include the following:

  • Students must be at least 19 by October 31 of their first year.
  • Students will be required to attend at a group interview.
  • Physical and emotional preparedness to undertake a program of studies.
    • Personal suitability of applicants will be assessed using a point rating system. Points are awarded for past academic education, all work or volunteer experience (education or other), demonstrated writing ability, reference letters, personal statement, and the group interview.
  • Willingness to undergo a Criminal Records Check.
  • Suitability for working with Aboriginal youth in an educational setting.
  • Ability to substantiate strong ties to an Aboriginal community.

Program Outline


First Year - Semester I

 Course #  Title
 HALQ 101  Halq'emeylem Language 
 HSER 120  Intro to Interpersonal Communications
 ENGL 105  Reading and Writing of Prose
 HIST 103  Sto:lo History
 FNST 101  First Nation Development

First Year - Semester II

 Course #  Title
 HALQ 102  Halq'emeylem Language
 HSER 200  Counselling Skills
 MATH 105  Math for the Elementary Teacher
 ENGL 170  Literature in Context - First Nations
 EDUC 290  Intro to Aboriginal Culture and Language Education

Second Year - Semester III

 Course #  Title
 HALQ 201  Halq'emeylem Language
 FNST 275/
 EDUC 275
 Contemporary Issues and  Policies in Aboriginal Education
 EDUC 291  Intermediate Studies in Aboriginal Culture and Language Studies
 FNST 201  Sto:lo Communication and World View
 Elective  Lab science elective*

Second Year- Semester IV

 Course #  Title
 HALQ 202  Halq'emeylem Language
 FNST 202  Sto:lo Social Structure
 HSER 192  Supporting Learner Development
 FNST 230  Aboriginal Culture and Language Practicum

Are there any special regulations?
A program GPA of 2.0 (C average) is required for practicum placement and graduation. All FNST courses must be completed with a grade of C or better. Students who are not making satisfactory progress may be required to withdraw from the program. Unsatisfactory progress can include the following:

  • Being placed on academic warning for inappropriate classroom conduct
  • Failing two or more courses in one semester
  • Failing a required course twice
  • Failing a practicum based course: EDUC 290, EDUC 291, FNST 230
  • Failing to maintain a 2.0 program GPA

Acceptance into the program does not guarantee practicum placement. Placement into the practicum will be at the discretion of the instructor. A CGPA of 2.0 is required for practicum placement. Students will be individually assessed during the third semester as to their readiness for the practicum, in terms of skills, attitudes, and knowledge. The ability to pass a criminal-record check is a prerequisite for most placements and a professional appearance is necessary. Practicum students must adhere to host school’s dress code. Practica placement is not guaranteed in student’s home community. Transportation for all practica is the student’s responsibility.

  • Students currently working as an Aboriginal support worker with at least three years work experience in an educational setting may be able to challenge FNST 230. Challenge options are to be discussed, by appointment, with the Department Head.
  • Students who do not complete a prerequisite course may be allowed to register for a subsequent course at the discretion of the Department Head. UFV reserves the right to cancel any course for which there is insufficient registration.

A program GPA of 2.0 (C average) and successful completion of FNST 230 (practica) is required for graduation.

Who will be teaching me?
Instructors bring a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, including education and social work. First Nations courses may be taught by Gwen Point, who has a joint appointment with Social Work and Human Services. Other instructors have implicit knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal world views. Halq'emeylem language courses are certified by Sto:lo Shxwlélì (the Halq'emeylem Language Authority) and are recognized by the BC College of Teachers.

How much will it cost? Can I afford it?
In addition to tuition, your costs include books, supplies, housing, meals, transportation, and personal expenses. On average, full-time ACLS students pay $4000 tuition each academic year. Books and supplies average $500/year. Prospective students are encouraged to make an appointment with Aboriginal Access Services staff to discuss funding options.

It’s worth a visit to the UFV financial aid and awards office, which facilitates the disbursement each year of approximately $7 million in federal and provincial student loans, B.C. grants, bursaries, scholarships, and awards to UFV students. A helpful budget planning worksheet is available.

What kind of assistance is there to help me adjust?
Please visit Student Services to learn about the broad range of services designed to help you learn about and adjust to the university environment. UFV Aboriginal Access Services provides support for Aboriginal (Metis, status, and non-status) students. Aboriginal students may enquire about services at S'olh Shxwlélí, the Aboriginal Resource Centre, on the Chilliwack campus (Room D136) and Abbotsford campus (Room A219A).Call 604 557-4069 (Abbotsford) or 604 795-2835 (Chilliwack).

Sounds good. What should I do now?
Apply immediately through Aboriginal Access Services. Call 604-504-7441 (Abbotsford and area), 604-792-0025 (Chilliwack), or toll-free at 1-888-504-7441.

I am not sure that this program is for me. Can I speak with someone about my options?
If you are unsure of your direction, contact Student Services at 1-888-504-7441 to arrange a tour, attend an ‘Intro to UFV' info session, connect with an Educational Advisor, or arrange for career counseling.

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