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Education roundtable defines anti-racism action plan

Education roundtable defines anti-racism action plan

July 15, 2021 at 12:39 pm  BC, News, Politics

A community roundtable will bring together nearly 40 community organizations, rightsholders and education partners to address racism in education and help shape the provincial K-12 Anti-Racism in Education Action Plan.

“Through the community roundtable, we will listen and learn how to build more inclusive and supportive school communities and programs and develop concrete actions that will inspire staff and students to create systemic change,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “When we work together with rightsholders, education partners and community organizations through an open and ongoing dialogue, we can address intolerance and colonial bias and build welcoming and inclusive learning environments for students and staff.”

Fighting racism is more urgent than ever, given escalating racism and intolerance in B.C. in the past year.

The July 15, 2021, virtual meeting with breakout sessions will allow participants from throughout the province to discuss topics, themes and actions to address racism, and support inclusivity and equality. It will build on the feedback provided in the first education roundtable on anti-racism, which was held in July 2020 and helped form the foundation for the draft action plan that will be presented and discussed for final input.

The five key elements of the draft anti-racism action plan are provincial leadership, system leadership, system support, workforce development and raising awareness. The action plan is expected to be launched this year.

“By teaching our children the colonial history of B.C. and giving them the tools to tackle racism, we are building welcoming and inclusive communities for everyone,” said Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, who will participate in the roundtable. “Indigenous peoples and Black-led community organizations have been leading anti-racism work within education for a long time, and I am eager to listen to them and support their voices.”

The ministry is working with teachers and community partners to create an inventory of K-12 anti-racism and diverse cultural experiences, learning and teaching resources with a particular focus on the B.C. context. This is complementary to B.C.’s K-12 provincial curriculum, which directly supports students in their growth. The personal and social core competencies include the awareness, understanding and appreciation of connections among people and encourages the study of topics related to diversity and inclusion through the investigation of local contexts and student interests. Through the action plan, a minister’s student advisory council will be formed, and youth engagement events will be planned throughout the province.

In the past year, the ministry has expanded its Expect Respect and a Safe Education (Erase) strategy to include Erase racism resources and information for students and parents. Training has also been included in the strategy for school districts to specifically address racism in schools.

Quotes:

Silvia Mangue Alene, president, BC Black History Awareness Society

“Through the community roundtable on anti-racism, we will deconstruct many societal and education-related challenges associated with racism. When we break down racism at its core, we move closer to eliminating it. We encourage educators in B.C. to teach Black history and talk about Black history as this allows students to listen, learn and understand the accomplishments and struggles of the Black community.”

Tyrone McNeil, president, First Nations Education Steering Committee  

“For years, First Nations and FNESC have advocated for concrete measures that address the racism of low expectations experienced by Indigenous learners. There is a clear and demonstrated need for a comprehensive review of anti-Indigenous racism in B.C. public schools supported by an Indigenous-specific strategy that includes the implementation of a mandatory First Peoples course or bundle of credits within the provincial graduation requirements. We look forward to working with the ministry on these important steps that will ensure our learners receive an education free from systemic and interpersonal racism.”

Teri Mooring, president, BC TeachersFederation

“As we look toward the next school year, we know many students and staff in our schools will have experienced different forms of trauma because of the pandemic. For some, like Asian Canadians, that trauma was experiencing an increase in racism and even racially based hate. Bringing educators together to discuss anti-racism strategies is critical and timely work. We also need to make sure we tie this work to promoting and training people in trauma-informed practices so the school system has the tools to respond and support people who have been the targets of racism. We also need to work together to ensure there are updated teaching resources available to all educators to help teach and promote anti-racism, decolonization, and anti-oppression.”

Stephanie Higginson, president, BC School Trustees Association

“Boards of education across British Columbia know that there is much work to be done to address systemic racism. We are committed to ensuring that every student in B.C. sees themself reflected in their schooling experience and feels safe, supported and valued. Developing a provincial anti-racism strategy for schools is crucial in first understanding where we can do better and then actively addressing racism and discrimination. We continue to listen and to learn so we can work together on this critical task.”

Quick Facts:

  • All of B.C.’s 60 school districts and independent schools have safe school co-ordinators and codes of conduct or policies in place that align with the B.C. Human Rights Code.
    • These codes and policies are designed to ensure schools remain free of discrimination against a person based on race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or class of persons.
  • B.C.’s Erase (expect respect and a safe education) strategy addresses anti-bullying, racism, discrimination and other harmful behaviours in many ways, including an anonymous online reporting tool to report incidents.

Learn More:

To learn more about the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/multiculturalism-anti-racism/anti-racism/resiliencebc

Students, parents, guardians and teachers can access resources through the Erase website to help them build safer school communities:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/erase

A backgrounder follows.

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