Navigating racism, bias and privilege in school communities is a challenge that educators face every day. Staff across the Vancouver School District attended an anti-racism workshop: ‘Cultural Humility Initiative: A Candid Conversation About Race’ – where they learned new strategies to use in learning and work environments.
Staff took part in the workshop in August, noting valuable and practical lessons learned. Last week, trustees also participated in the workshop.
“I think having humility is a big part of the discussion,” says Vancouver School District Board Chair, Janet Fraser. “Having the humility to be able to listen and to act on something that needs actions taken is crucial. Training like this helps you respond appropriately and allows you to learn from others with lived experiences,” adds Fraser.
Beth Applewhite, district vice-principal of the Burnaby School District, Kenneth Headley, vice-principal of Maple Ridge School District and James Morton, vice-principal of the Burnaby School District were the workshop presenters – all experts in equity, diversity and inclusion.
Participants were encouraged to reflect and share their experiences on issues surrounding systemic racism, discrimination, microaggression, bias and privilege.
The presenters noted their intent was to ensure participants felt safe, supported and heard. They also acknowledged that discussing race can be a difficult challenge. They reminded participants that the workshop was meant to create a safe space for conversations and that the discussion is one “we can no longer afford to evade.”
The Vancouver School District works to ensure that all students and staff feel safe to be themselves and to share their cultural background and experiences. And, as a public education system, everyone in the District has a critical role to play in anti-racism education.
For more information about how the District addresses racism, see:
Safe & Inclusive Schools: Anti-Racism Resources
Statement: Addressing Systemic Racism