The Cowichan Valley school board has taken a number of measures to deal with racism in light of recent events in the region, and around the world.
At its meeting on Feb. 2, the board announced the formation of an ad-hoc anti-racism committee.
The purpose of committee will be to critically examine biases, attitudes, beliefs, values and practices in schools to facilitate truth and reconciliation.
The committee will also create an anti-racism policy for local schools and their workplaces that supports a safe environment for all, and establish a mechanism that supports representation of Indigenous, Black, and persons of colour within schools and workplaces in the school district.
In addition, the committee will create a fair and transparent process when responding to incidents of racism within schools and workplaces, and create a restorative justice model for dealing with incidents of racism that is inclusive of community organizations and partner agencies.
The board also signed the “Community of Care Pledge” at the meeting on Feb. 2, putting in writing the trustees’ commitment to combating hate in all its forms.
The pledge is seen as one concrete way in which the board can respond to incidents of racism and injustice.
“From global Black Lives Matter advocacy to local racism faced by Cowichan Tribes members, the board wants the community to know they will stand up for all races, cultures, faiths, socio-economic diversities, sexual orientations, and gender identities,” the board said in a statement.
“The board has signed this pledge and are opening it up to the community at large to join them in their declaration. Members of the community who want to sign the pledge can go to www.sd79.bc.ca/pledge and add their name to the list of community supporters.”
The board also directly addressed the recent racism towards members of the Cowichan Tribes and other Indigenous communities.
“The board continues to offer our support to the members of Cowichan Tribes as they are forced to deal with racist attitudes and actions spread in our community, while simultaneously dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that has come to their door,” the board said.
“The board is resolute in our commitment to Cowichan Tribes and calls for a swift end to the ongoing racism they are facing. We know that our schools reflect our community and we must ensure that these racist attitudes do not permeate into our schools or embed themselves in the minds of our students. The board firmly commits to standing with Cowichan Tribes and speaking up and opposing hate in all its forms.”