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SD8 launches online anti-racism survey

The Kootenay Lake school district has launched an online survey for students, parents, staff, and the community at large as part of their process to create a process to address racism.

The online public survey is on the district website and open until the end of February. The board of education’s anti-racism advisory council will collate the survey results and collaborate towards a new policy to submit to the board in April.

“Our district is dedicated to building awareness and changing attitudes about racism, both in the classroom and the workplace,” board chair Lenora Trenaman said in a news release. “What we learn from our educational partners will result in a policy to support the board’s commitment to diversity, equity and reconciliation.”

The board of education is committed to creating “meaningful and inclusive engagement opportunities” and hopes to hear directly from students, parents, staff and the community, superintendent Trish Smillie said.

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“Staff and student participation over the last year and going forward will inform the work of the advisory council’s anti-racism action plan and policy to ensure that all of our schools are safe and welcoming places where diversity is celebrated,” she said.

“I am thankful to our staff and students for their commitment to making SD8 a supportive and equitable environment for learning and working.”

In February 2021, the district launched an anti-racism website as an online resource for both educators and parents to help provide practical guidance for students and staff around issues of race. In December, the district hosted a workshop for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) students to help develop activities, insights, and recommendations.

The outcome was the Students Tending the Fire toolbox for use in schools, intended to help educate, inform and personalize the topic of anti-racism for all SD8 learning communities.

“Students are leading the way in our anti-racism work with their wisdom, resilience and truth-telling through the Tending the Fire process,” said Gail Higginbottom, district principal for aboriginal education and a member of the SD8 anti-racism advisory council. “We will continue to keep them at the centre of the circle while we invite all students and others across the school district to complete our survey.”

The SD8 anti-racism advisory council has begun a series of meetings to guide the formal process of creating an anti-racism policy.

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