Jann Schmidt (left), district principal of international education, and SD8 superintendent Christine Perkins show off Black history textbooks. Photo: Submitted

Jann Schmidt (left), district principal of international education, and SD8 superintendent Christine Perkins show off Black history textbooks. Photo: Submitted

Kootenay Lake School District launches anti-racism website

The site is to help parents and teachers talk about race with kids

Submitted by School District 8

Kootenay Lake School District 8 is dedicated to building awareness and changing attitudes about racism, both in the classroom and the workplace.

This past year, world events have rallied solidarity around exposing the painful reality of racial inequality and injustice that exists, and the importance for organizations to fully embrace anti-racist values, behaviours, and policies in order to change our cultures.

“We are proud of our commitment to inclusion and diversity in this district,” says superintendent Dr. Christine Perkins, “but we need to do more to be actively anti-racist in our actions, not just in words.”

This month, School District 8 is launching a new anti-racism website: https://antiracism.sd8.bc.ca/, an online resource that provides practical guidance to teachers and parents as they explore issues of race with students.

The site is divided into four sections, designed to support and align with School District 8’s strategic plan goals of learning, engagement and strengthening relationships.

• KNOW: Increase our understanding of systemic racism and being an anti-racist.

• LEARN: Provide resources for deepening understanding about racism and developing an anti-racist mindset.

• CONNECT: Student and staff access to learning opportunities and local facilitators.

• ACT: Offering ideas to be part of the anti-racism solution.

“Understanding racism and its roots, questioning our own privilege and biases, and slowly dismantling those systems and beliefs internally and in our schools … is the process we all need to engage in,” says Perkins.

From providing professional development opportunities for staff around racial justice, to advocating for the implementation of Black Canadian history into the provincial curriculum, to the integration of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives in every area of learning, the district is committed to taking steps towards dismantling systemic racism.

A recent letter from a parent acknowledges the efforts being made: “As a white settler, I am still learning so much how to be an ally for my kids’ BIPOC friends and parents and I look forward to that journey together with the school district. School District 8 – Kootenay Lake has so much potential to make a difference in the lives of the white kids’ values and skills to speak up for justice, and for the empowerment of the BIPOC kids.”

School District 8 recognizes their potential to make a difference and is committed to creating a lasting anti-racism action plan to ensure that all of its schools are safe and welcoming places where diversity is celebrated.

Upcoming initiatives will include a full professional development day on April 19 that will focus on Indigenization of the curriculum with keynote speaker Chief Dr. Robert Joseph.

Chief Joseph has dedicated his life to bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding and racism at home and abroad. In addition, plans are already in place for a new district scholarship for students that exemplify human rights action.

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