Supporting Hope in the Face of Racism


Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District has the following statement on supporting hope in the face of racism:

June is both Indigenous History Month and International Pride month, and while our District works hard to recognize both through a series of commitments and actions (detailed HERE and HERE), this year is different.

This month recognizes the unique histories of Indigenous Peoples and the LGBTQ2IA+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two-Spirit, intersex and asexual), while focusing on their resilience in the face of discrimination and their struggles for equity. The current global protests that are happening, sparked by the death of George Floyd and fueled by the reality of long-term and historic systemic racism faced by persons of colour in both the United States and Canada and around the world further bring to light what has been known for years; racism is evident, it is systemic, it is alive.

Communities around the world are taking to the streets in solidarity, pressing for a change and hoping for a better world. What we see on the news and social media in countries across our globe is the manifestation of that hope.

As an organization we must ask ourselves, how do we support that hope, the hope for a better world? It is up to us, as an educational institution, to lead by example and to prepare our learners, our leaders of tomorrow, to face and dismantle racism in all its forms.

In the Cowichan Valley School District, we have taken direct action by embedding equity into our Strategic Plan, and therefore in everything we do. We are learning how to critically examine our own biases, attitudes, beliefs, values and practices to facilitate truth and reconciliation. Every day we work hard to create safe, flexible and culturally responsive learning environments for every learner. Each child deserves to be treated with equity and to be given every opportunity to create a world of their choosing.

Our schools approach our learners, the curriculum, and the organizational culture, through a lens of equity. We strive to ensure all voices are not only heard, but reflected in all facets of the school system. Through every work group in the district, we have focused our professional development on teachings of equity and inclusion. We are committed to continuing this work and ensuring that every learner, family, and community member receives what they need to thrive.

Let us recognize and confront the multiple histories of racism and discrimination. Let us come together as a strong community to learn from the past and embrace the hope for an equitable future.