New statement from board chairperson regarding General Gordon Elementary

Board & Committees

December 12, 2017

Janet Fraser, chairperson of Vancouver Board of Education, has issued the following statement:

"Vancouver School Board (VSB) district staff and I met on Monday with members of the Sontz and Weinberg families regarding their concerns about General Gordon Elementary’s holiday celebrations. I am pleased to report that we had a productive and respectful meeting and were able to reinforce the importance and value of student voice and our appreciation for the manner in which Grade 6 students, Maya Sontz and Rebecca Weinberg, brought forward their concerns regarding inclusion and representation. As Board Chairperson, and on behalf of all trustees, I was able to provide a direct apology for the girls not feeling included and represented at their school.

"Our meeting enabled myself and VSB staff to collectively gain a deeper understanding of the concerns expressed and to consider effective means of resolution, both for the immediate future at the school level and over the longer term across the school district.  We appreciate the importance of ensuring that all students and their families feel welcome at all of our schools. 

"As an outcome from our meeting, General Gordon Elementary will be proceeding with a number of initiatives related to the celebration of Hanukkah, along with other cultural celebrations. While a number of positive suggestions were raised in our meeting, the specific initiatives will be determined in consultation with the students, staff and parents.

"The VSB is committed to honouring and recognizing diverse cultures and celebrations and will review and examine its practices in the coming weeks to provide further guidance and direction to schools in support of our Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Policy.  The alignment of Policy, with Regulations and Guidelines will be reviewed to identify any needed revisions to help achieve greater clarity and consistency within and between our schools.  Our Diversity Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from our stakeholder groups, will discuss this recent experience to help guide our future actions.

"We are most appreciative of the important voice and contribution made by Maya and Rebecca for our students.  We’ve heard that Maya would like to thank her classmates and teacher for the support that she and Rebecca have received. 

"As a school district, we continue to look into the situation that arose at General Gordon and will work with the parents to address remaining concerns in a constructive and respectful manner."