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Celebrating International Women's Day 2024

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Imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination – a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. Imagine a world where we all inspire inclusion. March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to honour and celebrate the achievements of women worldwide as we work towards gender equality for all. This year’s theme is #InspireInclusion.

The Vancouver School Board (VSB) actively works to create equitable and inclusive opportunities and spaces for all, including in positions of leadership. From managers and directors, principals and vice principals, the chair of the Board, trustees, directors of instruction (DOI), and our superintendent, many of the wonderful leaders at VSB are women.

We are proud to honour of all the women who are employed with VSB. To help #InspireInclusion, some of our fearless leaders share their thoughts:

Helen_McGregor.png "With deep gratitude and respect, I am honoured to be learning and unlearning on the ancestral and unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) & səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, learner, educator and the current Superintendent and CEO of the Vancouver School Board. I have been extremely lucky to support public education in two provinces in a variety of roles. As a high school teacher, coach, department head, information technology teacher consultant, elementary vice principal, secondary vice principal, school principal, district principal, associate superintendent and now as superintendent, I have been able to learn from so many of my students and colleagues. Throughout my career, I have been mentored and supported by many leaders and in particular women leaders who I looked up to and who helped me believe that I could make a positive difference in the world. My goal has been to lift others up and create opportunities that might not have existed before, so that they can flourish in learning and in life. The orange heart I am holding was a gift from a school when I attended an Indigenous Education event and it reminds me of the importance of both strength and kindness every day,”
-Helen McGregor, Superintendent

Chas_Desjarlais.jpg“As a matriarch in the making, it’s my responsibility to ensure future women, Indigenous women, and other racialized minorities reach their full potential. And it’s my job as an aunty to help guide them on their path,”
-Chas Desjarlais, DOI, Indigenous Education

Janet_Fraser-1.jpg“When I was in school, I could see there were different opportunities for boys and girls, particularly with electives. Another girl and I decided we wanted to take the “boy subjects” of woodwork and metal work. Our school made the accommodations for us, and eventually changed the system to offer all subjects to all students as a result. That’s the importance of inspiring inclusion.”
-Janet Fraser, VSB Trustee

Maureen_McRae-Stranger-1.jpg“As an educator, leader, and mother, I strive every day to recognize, acknowledge and model the power of women. I feel strongly that we need to share and celebrate the stories of women—women who have pushed the boundaries in areas like arts, politics, sports, science, and academics to inspire the young people we work with. I want all female students in the VSB to feel connected and supported so that they can share their opinions with confidence, call out injustices, pursue their dreams and passions, and use their strengths to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.,”
-Maureen McRae-Stanger, Associate Superintendent

Hieu_Pham-Fraser.jpg“When I think of all the women in my life, I am humbled and inspired by their ability to create, solve problems, care for others, and be strong in the face of obstacles that gender oppression has created for them. If we want a world that honours diversity, centres inclusion, and prioritizes equity, then one of the groups we need to uplift and support are women,”
- Hieu Pham-Fraser, District principle of Equity, Anti-racism, and Non-discrimination

Preeti_Faridkot-1.jpg“On this International Women's Day, as a Trustee & a Sikh woman, I'm reminded of the strength that lies in our diversity and the importance of emphasizing unity in humanity. In Sikhism, we cherish the values of equality, justice, and inclusion. Today, let's celebrate not just the progress we've made, but also the work that still lies ahead to ensure every woman, from every community, is embraced and empowered. Let's work towards a future where diversity is not just acknowledged but celebrated, making room for every woman to shine. Happy International Women's Day!”
-Preeti Faridkot, Trustee

Jiana_Chow.jpg“#InspireInclusion is a mission that I live out through my daily actions and decisions. As a Chinese-Canadian woman, I understand that representation matters. By championing diversity and actively promoting inclusivity in the workplace, I hope to inspire others, particularly young women and people of colour, to pursue leadership roles, knowing their unique perspectives are vital for creating a more equitable future,”
-Jiana Chow, Communications Manager

Alison_Ogden.jpg“As a mother of two sons, being a good role model is part of my commitment to shaping a world where equality thrives. My own experiences have taught me the strength that comes from diversity and the unique perspectives that women bring to the table. I want my children to witness resilience, empathy, and determination in action – qualities that are not confined to one gender but are found in leaders irrespective of their identity. I want my sons to see a woman who pursues her dreams, speaks her mind, and embraces her strengths without reservation. I want them to understand that being supportive doesn't diminish their own worth; rather, it enhances the collective strength of our society. As a woman and a mother, I hope to create the conditions where my sons support and advocate for gender equality and empowerment alongside the women and girls in their lives,”
-Alison Ogden, Associate Superintendent

Shannon_Burton.jpg“Being a woman in a leadership position is both a privilege and a responsibility. I stand on the shoulders of incredible female role models who have paved the way before me. Their courage, resilience, and unwavering commitment to progress has humbled me. I feel honored to contribute to a world where women’s voices are more heard, where opportunities are more equal, and where we celebrate each other’s achievements. But with this honour comes a duty—to lift up voices of those silenced, to advocate for change, and to create spaces where everyone feels included.”
-Shannon Burton, DOI, Education Services

Patricia_MacNeil.jpg“As communications director at VSB, I have the privilege of sharing stories about students, staff and school communities in ways that demonstrate the diversity of our school district. By amplifying equity-deserving voices, I help create opportunities for others to share their lived-experiences and aspirations. Through a DEI lens and applying GBA+ practices, I inform branding, language and procedures that lower barriers and #InspireInclusion!”
-Patricia MacNeil, Director of Communications

Janis_Myers.jpg“In my role as the Director of Instruction, I collaborate with administrators to support students, staff and families, creating places and opportunities where every student can see themselves. Empowering students in schools fosters an environment where they can thrive and envision themselves as future leaders. I am proud to work among other competent and compassionate women leaders to help shape a future where every student can confidently lead, break barriers and contribute to a more equitable education for all learners.”
-Janis Myers, DOI, Education Services

Flavia_Coughlan.jpg“On International Women’s Day, I reflect on my journey. As a first-generation immigrant, I’ve experienced the struggle of forging a career path in a new country. From being labeled an ‘unskilled worker’ upon my arrival in Canada, to now serving as the Secretary Treasurer and CFO of BC’s second largest school district, my journey is a testament to resilience, determination, and inclusion. I hope my story inspires more women to take the lead and encourages leaders to support women in reaching their full potential,”
-Flavia Coughlan, Secretary-Treasurer

Victoria_Jung1.jpg“As Chair of the Vancouver School Board, on International Women's Day 2024, I want to emphasize the importance of supporting women not only in our schools but also in the broader political arena, including on boards and in legislatures.

Women play a crucial role in shaping the future, as teachers, mothers and as leaders. They often face immense challenges in balancing their responsibilities at home with their professional aspirations. Whether it's ensuring their children receive a quality education or advocating for policies that benefit all families, women are integral to our communities' well-being.

In politics, women bring an important and needed perspective forged by their lived experiences. However, they also encounter systemic barriers that limit their participation and advancement. From the lack of family-friendly policies to entrenched gender biases, these obstacles limit the representation of women in decision-making roles.

As we celebrate the achievements of women on this day, let us also recognize the need to create environments that support them in pursuing their ambitions, whether it's serving on school boards or running for political office. This includes implementing policies that provide affordable childcare, flexible working arrangements, and parental leave to ensure women can fully engage in both their professional and personal lives. Only by fostering a culture of inclusivity and support, can we empower and unleash the true potential of women in modern society today. Happy International Women's Day!”
-Victoria Jung, Chair of the Board.

Creating equitable and inclusive spaces throughout the District involves everyone year round. On International Women's Day, the VSB team celebrates women everywhere and acknowledges the importance of this day in creating equity:

Pete_Nuij.jpg“Happy International Women’s Day. Together we are better, together we are our best. #inspireinclusion,”
-Pete Nuij, Associate Superintendent

Pedro_da_Silva.jpg“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the strength, resilience, and grace of women everywhere, and I’d like to honour a special woman who embodies these qualities every day— my mom,”
-Pedro da Silva, Associate Superintendent

Aaron_Davis-1.jpg"I'm always inspired by the incredible women I live and work with. They are guiding lights for me personally and professionally about how I contribute to an equitable society,”
-Aaron Davis, DOI, Education Services

The Employee Services Department is continuously inspired by the significant talents and contributions of our female leaders and colleagues. The Employee Services Department will foster and promote inclusion through best human resources practices that ensure gender equality, employment equity including compensation, and succession planning.

#IWD2024 #InspireInclusion

Facilities.png Facilities and Sustainability also joined in to #InspireInclusion!

This #IWD, we’re inspired by #GirlsofVSB – leaders today and of the future! We asked the Puddle Jumpers --the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team at Templeton Secondary --to share what inspiring inclusion means to them:


“Four years ago, a core group of women in the Robotics club asked if they could start their own FRC team, an all-female team (at the time women represented 15 -20% of the team roster). They felt their roles on the team were mostly administrative, and they weren’t getting the robotic/engineering experience they desired. 

Over the past four years, the FRC#7332 team, the Puddle Jumpers at Templeton Secondary, has grown, and their numbers now equal 7190. The new generation of women coming through high school and Templeton Robotics don’t want inclusion; they demand equality and independence.”

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