Vancouver school trustee resigns from 2 roles after racial comments
VANCOUVER -- A trustee from the Vancouver School Board whose comments on race prompted outcry last week has apologized and resigned from two committee positions.
Fraser Ballantyne was defending the use of police liaison officers in schools when he argued that trustees should consider the experiences of white students along with those of Black and Indigenous students.
"When you look at it, the Caucasian kids are actually the visible minority," Ballantyne said at the June 22 board meeting. "So when we get a sense from the population of our secondary schools and our elementary schools, I think it's really important to hear what they have to say about it and their feelings."
Those comments led to growing outrage over the following days, and an open letter calling for Ballantyne's firing that had been signed more than 800 times as of Tuesday morning. Many of the signatories are teachers and parents from across Metro Vancouver.
The Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association also called for the trustee's resignation, arguing that his remarks "indicate a significant lack of awareness of the systemic nature of racism in the school system."
"When BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) and other marginalized youth speak up and raise concerns about aspects of the system you supervise, we urge you to listen to those voices and consider carefully your responsibility to the students whose education is in your care," VESTA said in a statement.
The day after the meeting, Ballantyne apologized on social media and said that he misspoke. On Tuesday, amid growing calls for his resignation, the trustee added that he was stepping down as chair of the VSB's policy and governance committee, and as a member of the finance committee.
"Upon reflection, I recognize that comments like mine perpetuate and preserve white privilege, and ignore systemic racism in our society," Ballantyne, a retired special education teacher who was elected under the Non-Partisan Association, wrote in a statement.
"I hope that by resigning my committee positions, I am creating space for a new perspective. It is clear that I have not done enough to listen to, or centre, the voices of our racialized communities. I will do that critical work now."