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Message from the Director of Education
Message from the Director of Education

May 14, 2019

Dear families,

Like many of you, earlier this morning I was disappointed to see a media article depicting violence amidst allegations of anti-black racism at one of our schools. Such actions are not acceptable in our schools or communities. While this is not an experience we want for any of our students, we take both matters extremely seriously and are putting supports in place for those affected. We are sorry for the hurt this experience is causing.

We know you have high expectations of us - we do too - and we’re working to improve how we address complex issues of anti-black racism and other forms of hate. We have relied on our community partners for their knowledge, experience and resources and will continue to do so to create an environment where students can feel safe and welcome.

Recently, our Board launched a pocket guide for schools on how to respond to incidents of hate, including anti-black racism. Part of this response includes our Harmony and Equity Action Response Team (HEART), an interdisciplinary team of professionals specifically trained to support schools, students and families. The goal is to restore relationships and create a learning environment where all students and families can feel they belong. HEART is an adjunct to our cross-functional team that was available to this school and operates throughout our system on a daily basis, both to respond to issues and to learn about the needs of our diverse communities.

We have also been proactive in providing education and programs for our communities and schools to create safe, welcoming and inclusive learning and working environments for our students and staff. Our Inclusive Schools and Community Services (ISCS) and our Commissioner of Human Rights are conducting training with schools and staff.  Anti-bias training, and our recently concluded Equity Series on Anti-Black Racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, Homophobia, and Model Minority are only a few examples of our equity training efforts.

Last year, our Board conducted a student census to help us better understand our diverse student population and their experiences in and outside of school. We are in the process of analyzing the data, which we will use to inform resource allocation, programming and improve service delivery to all our students, including our black students and other students who are marginalized.

Working with our senior team, and particularly with our Coordinating Superintendent of Indigenous Education and Equity, we will continue to outreach to community agencies and leaders to continue working with and learning from them. I know there is still work to do. Working together, we can continue to create an environment where all our students feel safe, welcome and included in our growing communities.


Sincerely,

Louise Sirisko   
Director of Education 
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