Anti-racism roundtable amplifies voices for action plan

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VICTORA – More than 40 community organizations, rightsholders and Indigenous 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.
“By working together, we are making progress to dismantle both subtle and obvious forms of racism,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “Through the Community Roundtable on Anti-Racism, everyone has an opportunity to participate and learn from stories, personal reflections and ideas. We cannot change the past, but by acknowledging, learning from, and teaching about historic and current injustices and inequities, we can make changes together to create a future that is anti-racist. We are thankful for every participant whose voice 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 sharing for participants to provide their feedback. The agenda included a student-led presentation about the discussions and recommendations made through the Minister’s Youth Dialogue Series held earlier this year between students from throughout the province and Whiteside.
“Our institutions, including schools, are rooted in colonial biases that are still hurting Indigenous, Black and people of colour today,” said Rachna Singh, B.C.’s Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “Through the Community Roundtable on Racism, we can break down the barriers that have held back people for generations and build a better, anti-racist province for our children and future generations to come.”
In the past two years, the Ministry of Education and Child Care has held ongoing engagements and announced initiatives to address racism. This includes hosting the 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 anti-racism and diverse cultural histories, as well as hosting the Youth Dialogue Series.
In 2020 and 2021, British Columbians navigated significant events of intolerance, inequality and racism. All were highlighted by various displays and increased acts of discrimination and hatred in Canada and throughout the world. The COVID-19 pandemic deepened vulnerabilities and inequalities faced by racialized communities in B.C. and throughout Canada.
By teaching youth about the impacts of discrimination in B.C. and supporting them to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for responding to racism, government and its partners are creating a generation of future leaders to champion inclusivity and acceptance of people from all ethnicities, as everyone works together to prevent and stop racism.
Darren Danyluk, president, B.C. Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association said, “The work of anti-racism moves beyond teaching and promoting tolerance for diversity. Key to this work is the action taken to identify and oppose racist policies where they exist. Further action to enact anti-racist policies is critical to achieving equity, not just in our schools, but in society at large. Through true collaboration and focused effort between B.C.’s education partners, an effective plan will be created and taken forward through action. B.C.’s principals and vice-principals are dedicated to engaging alongside our partners in the work of building welcoming and inclusive schools for our students, our staff and our communities.”