Over 40 community organizations, Indigenous rights holders and partners, education partners and students participated in the third Minister’s Community Roundtable on Anti-Racism in Education.
The partners met to discuss and address racism in the education system and to provide final feedback to inform the provincial K-12 anti-racism action plan.
“Working together, we are making progress in dismantling subtle and overt forms of racism,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “Through the Community Roundtable on Anti-Racism, everyone has the opportunity to participate and learn from stories, personal reflections and ideas. We can’t change the past, but by recognizing, learning, and teaching historical and current injustices and inequalities, we can make change together to create an anti-racist future. We are grateful to each participant whose voice has shaped and informed our multi-year anti-racism strategy to create a culture of belonging for all students, staff, parents and families.
The roundtable included breakout sessions and group discussions for participants to provide feedback. The agenda included a student-led presentation on the discussions and recommendations made during the Ministerial Youth Dialogue Series held earlier this year between students from across the province and Whiteside.
“Our institutions, including schools, are rooted in colonial biases that still harm Indigenous, Black and people of color today,” said Rachna Singh, BC Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “Through the Community Roundtable on Racism, we can break down the barriers that have held people back for generations and build a better anti-racism province for our children and future generations.
Over the past two years, the Department of Education and Child Care has made ongoing commitments and announced initiatives to address racism. This includes hosting community roundtables on anti-racism, supporting the Team Up Against Racism partnership with the BC Lions, and developing a guide for educators to support teaching about racism. anti-racism and the various cultural histories, as well as the organization of the series of dialogues with young people.
In 2020 and 2021, British Columbians have lived through significant events of intolerance, inequality and racism. All have been highlighted by various protests and increased acts of discrimination and hatred in Canada and around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the vulnerabilities and inequalities faced by racialized communities in British Columbia and across Canada.
By teaching young people about the impacts of discrimination in B.C. and helping them develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to respond to racism, the government and its partners are creating a generation of future leaders to stand up for the inclusion and acceptance of people of all ethnicities, as everyone works together to prevent and stop racism.
Silvia Mangue Alene, President, BC Black History Awareness Society –
“Through the Anti-Racism Community Roundtable, I welcome the opportunity to make and embrace changes to eliminate racism in K-12 education. from raising awareness of the struggles of racialized communities to celebrating and teaching students about the contributions of Black Canadians, we can show compassion for inequalities and educate about our collective history. I look forward to seeing our engagements contribute to the development of an anti-racism plan to further strengthen diversity, inclusion and equality among students, teachers and school staff.
Tyrone McNeil, Chair, First Nations Education Steering Committee –
“First Nations learners continue to face discrimination and racism in BC public schools, including the racism of low expectations. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act came into force in November 2019 and includes an article that states that indigenous people, especially children, are entitled to all levels and forms of state education without discrimination. It will take a major and coordinated effort across the education system to achieve the goal of eradicating racism.
Nola, student, member of the Youth Dialogue series –
“Being part of this series of dialogues with young people has inspired and motivated me in many ways; it made me feel like part of a community of like-minded people working to change our school system. Working Together, Listening and Uplifting proves how change is possible when we work together and speak out what needs to be changed.
Darren Danyluk, President, BC Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association –
“Anti-racism work goes beyond teaching and promoting tolerance for diversity. Key to this work is the action taken to identify and oppose racist policies where they exist. New steps to enact anti-racism policies are essential to achieving equity, not just in our schools, but in society as a whole. Through true collaboration and focused effort among BC education partners, an effective plan will be created and implemented through action. BC principals and vice-principals are committed to engaging alongside our partners in the work of building welcoming and inclusive schools for our students, staff, and communities.
- All of BC’s 60 school districts and independent schools have Safe School Coordinators and codes of conduct or policies in place that align with the BC Human Rights Code.
- These codes and policies are designed to ensure that schools remain free from discrimination against any person based on race, color, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. , or the age of that person or class of persons.
- British Columbia’s Erase (expect respect and a safe education) strategy addresses the fight against bullying, racism, discrimination and other harmful behaviors in many ways, including an anonymous online reporting tool to report incidents. In 2021, the Erase website was expanded to provide more information for K-12 students, educators, parents, and families on how to identify racism. Updates include links to book lists and resources for adults and children of all ages.
Erase Racism: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/erase/racism
Anti-Racism Data Act: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/antiracism
A backgrounder follows.