Province launches community roundtable to tackle racism in B.C. schools
A vacant teachers desk is pictured at the front of a empty classroom is pictured at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver on Sept. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
VANCOUVER -- In an effort to address racism in B.C. schools, the province has established a community roundtable that will help develop an anti-racism action plan and create more respectful elementary and high school curriculums.
The Community Roundtable on Anti-Racism will examine the impact of racism on students and will give input on how to create new policies that promote anti-racism, the province said in a statement Friday.
It also aims to ensure the culture, beliefs and ancestry of all B.C. students are understood and accepted through the bolstering of the K-12 curriculum.
The roundtable held its first meeting Friday and will continue to meet as the action plan is developed.
"There is no place for racism, discrimination or intolerance in British Columbia- in our schools or anywhere else," Premier John Horgan said in a statement. The group will help enhance "culture-based" learning in the education system, the premier added.
The province says this is the first of many steps the education ministry will be taking to understand barriers faced by Indigenous students and students of colour.
Silvia Mangue Alene, president of the B.C. Black History Awareness Society, said the roundtable is an important first step in bringing the experiences of Black Canadians into the curriculum.
"We believe strongly that education about people and other people's culture really reduces racism and prejudice," she said in a statement.
Education Minister Rob Fleming has asked the First Nations Leadership Council, the First Nations Education Steering Committee and Metis Nation B.C. to help set up an Indigenous table, and a student advisory group will also be established in the fall.
"By listening and learning from the experiences of others, we can all work together to build an environment that is understanding and respectful of our differences," said Anne Kang, Minister of Citizens' Services and responsible for multiculturalism.
The roundtable builds on a series of community dialogues led last summer by Ravi Kahlon, the former parliamentary secretary for sport and multiculturalism.