How will Cowichan Valley School District trustee candidates protect children’s rights?

Cowichan Valley School District trustee candidates speak to how they would protect students’ rights if elected.
Four teens holding protest signs. "Time is running out." "We're ditching school because you're ditching our future."
Students strike for climate change action at a protest in Duncan, B.C. on Sept. 20, 2019. Photo by Jacqueline Ronson/The Discourse

On Oct. 15, voters in the Cowichan Valley will have the chance to vote for seven school trustees to serve on the Cowichan Valley School District board.

This election season, The Discourse sought to fill gaps in local reporting by taking a child-centred approach to our school trustee survey. 

While parental rights are often pitted against children’s rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian common law are centred on rights for all people and the best interests of the child.

For the 2022 school board elections, The Discourse sent out a candidate survey that follows a children’s rights framework, pulling from rights outlined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada ratified in 1991. These questions were originally shared by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

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Nine of the school district’s 18 trustee candidates responded. The Discourse made multiple attempts to contact the other nine candidates but did not receive answers in time to publish from most.

Candidate Serena Winterburn replied, apologizing for being unable to respond to the questions by deadline due to a busy schedule of events, meetings and family obligations. Winterburn also offered a brief response related to the fifth and sixth questions on the survey, regarding the right to health and the right to practicing religion and culture.

“Number five refers to a dead name. Number six refers to the honouring of our Indigenous culture, spirituality and traditions. However, within our cultures and traditions a name is sacred and holds great importance. Number five contradicts number six,” Winterburn says in a statement. “For a school to refer to a child’s name as a dead name and to change the name without any recognition of the historical, cultural or family importance is in violation of number six. We speak towards our families and have a voice and say that it takes a community to raise a child. Yet, within the school, we eliminate the child’s family as a support system. We negate the importance of family support in every aspect of what it can offer. I cannot speak to the questions you had and what they were as I have not read them. But this is my statement.”

Candidate Randy Doman also sent The Discourse his regrets for being unable to respond to the survey due to being away for a field hockey tournament for his daughter.

Candidate Cathy Schmidt said the questions asked in the survey about the rights of the child are important, but chose not to answer them, stating she would “run over the rights of the parent, as it is their role to be their child’s advocate.” She says she would also be stepping over the role of the principal and teacher if she answered the questions as a trustee candidate.

“Should any of the rights of a child be broken, there is a process that is followed. First, the parent or a parent with an advocate meets with the teacher. Should that process not resolve the issue, then the parent speaks with the principal. Should a parent feel the issue is still not resolved, then they can appeal it at the district level. Should the breach of the child’s rights be severe enough, the appeal, if approved, will come to the Board of Education,” Schmidt wrote in an email statement to The Discourse. “The board must stay out of day-to-day issues so should a case come to the board, the members of the board are not put in conflict and can hear the breach fairly. In the end, I will say that if the process is followed correctly that is how the board will protect the rights of the child.”

Candidate Patricia Dawn responded with concerns that the survey appears contrived and does not allow for candidates to fully express themselves. She expressed a preference for discussions following protocol.

The following responses were lightly copy edited for clarity and grammar.

Children have the right to protection from harm, including “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.” 

If elected, how will you defend the right of children to protection from harm, particularly for Black, Indigenous and other racialized students?

Janice John-Mitchell

One of my concerns for children in this demographic is that they experience a lot of prejudice. I will raise awareness by acknowledging the issues and struggles of these students within the school district. I will advocate for them by listening to them first and assisting them along with other stakeholders and partners to develop a plan of action. I strongly recommend for each school in the district to include a program that teaches about diversity and inclusiveness. A program that would cover the Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) contributions and struggles. All children would benefit from having knowledge and awareness of our diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Tolerance for differences should decrease the amount of prejudice and physical, mental, psychological and spiritual harm BIPOC children face. These programs must be spearheaded by BIPOC people. Careful consideration must be made with the African descent population since they are the most marginalized out of the group. Suicides and attempted suicides goes unrecognised in this group as well as other groups. I would want to examine policies that will guide [away from] prejudice. I would also define the language around prejudice. I would encourage all schools to recognise Black History month (February), Caribbean Heritage Month (October), Chinese New Year and other multicultural days this demographic celebrates.

Joe Thorne

Every child has the right to be prorected so monitored check-ins are key. Talk with teachers about safety factors the school has in place. Sharing all cultures is a missing ingredient. [Being educated] to best understand each other’s culture is key to not just First Nations but all ethnic reconciliation.

Elizabeth Croft

We have clear policies and statements regarding inclusion and equity. Our teachers also learn different cultural practices because we don’t want anyone to coax Muslim children to eat during Ramadan, or suggest students remove head covering for hot weather or gym. We embraced reconciliation with all Nations in Cowichan. This includes more Indigenous consultants in schools daily, a principal of Indigenous instruction and district Knowledge Keeper. Together the Indigenous team presents three online sessions per week with stories, new words and tips for teachers. Teaching different cultural understandings signals respect and acceptance. That helps kids feel safe, knowing they are part of a community. I believe the next step is district-wide training in allyship and active witnessing. Racism and bullying go unaddressed when teachers/adults aren’t present. Active witnessing helps kids safely express their inclusive values, and stand up for their friends. The other thing that reduces bullying is the new bathroom design – floor to ceiling cubicles for privacy, with an open area to wash your hands. No hiding out in the bathrooms and getting into trouble in that configuration. The most common reason people tell me they leave the public system is due to bullying. It’s also a reason that people return from private schools. We can address the racism/exclusion we do see. Equipping kids to deal with stuff that happens out of the purview of adults [and] active witnessing is another important layer to add. 

Shannon Collum

My goal is to continue to uphold and work to improve the system that is in place by making sure that marginalized students have the support and representation they need. This can include but is not limited to: funding specific programs, making appropriate changes to curriculum to ensure accurate representation and minimizing institutional retraumatization. 

Cindy Lise

In my leadership role in this region I have been including the UN Declaration of Rights of the Child at EVERY Our Cowichan meeting over the past decade. It is through the lens of the rights of the child that we must address our most complex challenges related to the social determinants of health. What would I do? I would continue to educate adults, governments and institutions of their responsibilities. I would teach children their rights. I would learn about current factors that are negatively impacting our children and youth. I would advocate for ongoing district efforts such as Orange Shirt Week (which they have done an incredible job). I would bring unique culture learning opportunities into our schools. I would speak openly about the harms that come to racialized students and work with all students for their voice on how we can do better. I will stand with the Community of Care Pledge. Currently, I am working with leaders in our region advocating for a safe space for youth who are being exploited and living with high risk behaviours on our streets. They were once students in our classrooms and need our voice. Together we can find solutions!

Johanne Kemmler

I am a steadfast supporter for all children having a safe, inclusive education. There is no room for discrimination in our schools.  

Jennifer Strachan

Building trust in all communities but particularly diverse communities would be a priority for me as a trustee to ensure children’s best interests are at the forefront of all School District #79 decisions. Working alongside [and] in collaboration with diverse community groups, parents, elders etc. would also be a focus for me as a trustee. Challenging the status quo and looking for guidance and insight as to which programs, policies and processes may need attention. 

Laura Interlandi

First of all, continue to listen deeply to my Black and Indigenous Elder mentors, colleagues and community. Keep showing up, keep committed. Having worked in justice movements for many years I am accustomed to directly interrupting racism and discrimination, as well as looking through an equity and anti-racist lens when I am at tables that are making decisions that will impact Black, Indigenous and racialized people. I am used to applying a critical anti-racist framework to statistics and findings that may have been gathered using narrow, uninclusive and/or discriminatory approaches to begin with. Additionally, I am familiar with the characteristics of white supremacy culture and am in ongoing self-reflection and professional accountability networks and continuing education around interrupting patterns of colonial harm and white violence. I am also adept at explaining these things to people who are confused about the difference between equity and equality, critical race theory and/or the difference between covert and overt racism/discrimination and can hold fellow trustees and/or community members accountable with love when an edge of understanding is present. 

Eduardo George Sousa

I will work with other trustees to ensure provincial directives related to codes of conduct like SOGI, which safeguards children against bullying and discrimination, are being followed. I also want to establish ongoing “Let’s Talk” forums with teachers, students, parents, trustees, Cowichan Tribes and other Indigenous leadership where issues like these on gender, equity and diversity are openly discussed in a safe space and [we are] problem-solving them. All children deserve to be safe in their environments of learning and resting.   

Children have the right to free expression, including the “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.”

How will you ensure that rights to freedom of expression are protected, particularly in cases of children seeking information about subjects like sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)?

Shannon Collum

It is vital that children continue to have safe access to accurate and age-appropriate information, especially about subjects like SOGI, and I will do everything I can to make sure that those resources are in place, up to date, and easily accessible. 

Cindy Lise

Our children spend 13 years of their lives in the school environment. Providing the resources and tools for all staff to be able to provide age-appropriate responses to the curiosity of children is important. SOGI 123 is one of many tools. Children should NEVER fear asking questions, regardless of the question. Creating a safe and open space where children are free to express themselves and to ask questions comes from building a culture of caring in our schools. The relationship between teachers, parents and children is also key. 

Johanne Kemmler

Our District has SOGI 123 resources available for educators. I strongly support these resources and the education of educators to be able to answer questions and support children seeking out information.

Jennifer Strachan

I feel that the current stance on SOGI information, to support students, is appropriate. There is no curriculum in SD79, however, as a parent I am thankful teachers are provided educational material to ensure their responses to students, if asked, are informed and inclusive to mitigate bias. If further evolution to SOGI or other important policy or curriculum direction were to change, it would be my responsibility as a trustee to engage in consultation and collaboration with the various stakeholders with a focus on putting students’ needs first. 

Laura Interlandi

I will continue to support the understanding in our community about the importance of accessible, age appropriate, inclusive materials and information. SOGI is here to stay and I hope we can dispel the misinformation that has been circulating about it. Queer and trans families exist in the Cowichan Valley and deserve support and respect, including seeing themselves reflected in books, holidays and at school. Coming from a reproductive justice background I have direct experience in the creation and delivery of inclusive reproductive health curricula and am happy to be a support to parents, teachers, staff and the board in any way that makes learning safer and more inclusive for our children and teens across all spectrums of SOGI identity. 

Eduardo George Sousa

See my answer above. While we cannot enforce SOGI schools in particular, as it is optional, we do have to ensure schools have codes of conduct that enshrine rights to freedom of expression. I would want to look at which schools aren’t SOGI-inclusive and determine why not and whether they would consider bringing SOGI materials as resources. 

Elizabeth Croft

I’m a bit of a stickler for precise language, so forgive me for noting that only SOGI 123 is what’s in B.C. schools. People are sending me materials from Ontario and California. These aren’t SOGI 123 and not in B.C. schools. So, regarding SOGI 123 – yes, promoting inclusion and understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity should be in schools. Kids learn about different families, to respect (and not fear) people for their differences. It’s age appropriate and it’s social justice, NOT sexual education. These rights are enshrined in the BC Humans Rights Code. If a future board were to retract SOGI 123, they would be in violation of the code. You cannot remove services for a group because of gender identification, especially if you provide those same services for other groups. And, the districts teach gender equality, inclusivity and cultural understanding to all students. Withdrawing SOGI 123 withdraws service that affects the wellbeing of  2SLGBTQ  students. It can’t, and shouldn’t be revoked.

Joe Thorne

Everything must be checked before students can read or view materials. We’re here to protect and not confuse students on their learning journey.

Janice John-Mitchell

I would encourage each voice to voice their concerns. No one should be left unheard. There are provisions put in place to include and teach about SOGI. I would encourage educators to respectfully gauge the student population education according to the child’s developmental age.

Children have the right to an education that is “child-centred, child-friendly and empowering” and is directed to the “development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

How will you protect the rights of children to an education that emphasizes teaching about racism as both a historic and contemporary phenomenon?

Jennifer Strachan

While the Ministry has increased curriculum on racism and historic injustice, the School District, through community engagement, should be continually searching out local opportunities to increase that reach. Through more than just classroom content, students’ opportunity to experience empathy and compassion through the lives of those impacted will bring increased learning. Opportunities with Elders, fellow students, notable community members, etc. would add to our local experience.  

Elizabeth Croft

Our district was an [early part] of “transformation learning.” One of the most important principles of that is student voice. We’ve welcomed students on district committees. Their influence is on par with all our partner groups: unions, parents, principals and vice-principals. That’s one of the empowerment pieces. We have approved a number of locally created curricula that embrace First Nations teachings – especially language and understanding nature. This is currently a “growth area” and, for the moment, we are coming up short on Black history and this is something I am willing to confer with our Superintendent. District principals can also encourage the uptake of certain subjects. We could definitely place more emphasis on Black History Month as a jumping off point for classroom activities to explore racism.

Laura Interlandi

In a community with the legacy of residential schools and colonial violence toward Indigenous people so apparent, we must be clear: you cannot have reconciliation without acknowledging critical race theory. Indigenous graduation rates are an extension and result of structural and social racism. The legacy of residential schools is the present day reflection that we are not all paddling in the same boat. Again, this is the basic premise of critical race theory. School trustees must be able to acknowledge the legacy of race based violence, both embedded within our laws and social structures, to serve with integrity, in my opinion. What is Orange Shirt Day if not a community wide visible acknowledgement of the inequality present from the history of discrimination? The denial of the legacy of racism has no place in our schools.  As long as Black, Indigenous and racialized children experience racism, then white/all children can learn about it. Education leads to awareness [which] leads to healing. 

Eduardo George Sousa

See above answers. In addition, we have no control over curriculum as that comes from the Ministry of Education but I would certainly try and compel the BC Teachers Association to ensure it lobbies the Ministry is developing and implementing curriculum related to racism as a historic and ongoing phenomenon. We have a lot of work to do in the Valley on addressing historic and current forms of racism, especially with regards to Indigenous communities and other racialized communities.

Johanne Kemmler

I am a member of the District Equity Scan Team (which is a team of school district and community partners preparing for the Equity in Action Project through the Ministry of Education).  We also have an anti-racism committee that I greatly empower and respect.

Cindy Lise

Incredible efforts have been undertaken by our district in many regards. There is still a ways to go to critically examine our biases, attitudes, beliefs, values and practices on the road to truth and reconciliation and that must come from our system and within. Children are learning about the atrocities of colonization, residential schools and missing children. Schools are providing week-long Orange Shirt activities and events in September, but also share and learn all year long. Today, special ceremonies and teachings of cultural history rooted in thousands of years in our region help children understand how we can stop racism and be accepting of our neighbours and community members. Students who feel a sense of belonging will do better in school. This promotes an understanding of diversity. I would continue to not only embrace the First Nations culture in our region but would include others such as racism towards other races and people with diverse religions. Atrocities continue to happen across the globe and we cannot shy away from learning about them.  

Shannon Collum

I will support the continuation and improvement of a curriculum that teaches the truth about the part that racism has played in both historic and present-day events, as well as encourage teaching children how to recognize and mitigate the racism they encounter in their lives.

Children have the right to privacy. “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence.” This includes membership to 2SLGBTQ+ clubs, for example, and connecting with school counsellors.

If elected, how will you defend the rights of children to privacy?

Elizabeth Croft

Only teachers, parents & principals would review any records of a child by name. There’s no way a trustee or other parties can pull up information on an individual. Private conversations with counsellors aren’t available to anyone, unless the child is in danger, then the counsellor has a duty of care and those processes are strictly outlined to protect the child. ALL B.C. education electronic records are on servers in Canada. We don’t release club records to anyone. For younger kids, parents have to be informed. After 16, kids have rights to seek medical help without parental permission. I am serious about protecting student privacy. I’m not aware that it’s under threat, but will always be vigilant.

Laura Interlandi

I think I need to understand this more and how it pertains to different age groups (or not). Is this different for a six-year-old than a 16-year-old? I support rainbow clubs and understand that unfortunately, some children live in unsafe homes with abusive and/or neglectful caregivers, or loving caregivers who don’t have the willingness or capacity for certain kinds of support/education/relationship. For some children, school is the safest place with the safest grown-ups or the most or only logical place to have certain needs met. That said, I understand and respect the desire that parents have to know what their kids are learning about and doing at school. Involved parents who are curious/concerned are actually not my worry – those are the people we can work with and talk to. This is a sensitive area and I don’t want to write parents off as unsafe, homophobic or transphobic because they have questions. Some parents genuinely want to know how to show up and I respect the balance of this nuance.   

Eduardo George Sousa

Again I point to what I have written above regarding SOGI. I would also want to investigate to determine if there are any barriers to setting up 2SLGBTQ+ clubs, and if there are, what they might be and how to go about eliminating such barriers. 

Shannon Collum

I will wholeheartedly defend the rights of all children to have safe access to the resources they need to learn, grow, and develop into healthy and successful adults. This absolutely includes the right to privacy when connecting with their peers and other support systems at school, especially in regards to SOGI.  

Cindy Lise

Always ask the child for consent on what they would like to have shared. Their voice needs to be acknowledged and respected unless someone is aware of an instance that can cause great harm or impact their safety. Providing options/opportunities for children to reach out to people they trust comes from building a strong culture of caring in our schools. Make privacy policies accessible and easy to understand. Always respect confidentiality. 

Johanne Kemmler

Education does involve our educators and family working together. In situations where families and children disagree, I would encourage dialogue between the principal, counsellor and child.  In the case of no resolve, the rights of the child would prevail.

Jennifer Strachan

As a trustee, above and beyond my accountability to all privacy legislation, I would work with the board and superintendent to ensure that all policies to protect the privacy of students and employees were upheld and continually reviewed for adherence and thoroughness. This would include application of a lens of cultural diversity to those policies to ensure that unconscious bias was not impacting the rights of any student.  

Joe Thorne

Students have a right to privacy and gender choice. Teachers have [this] information and the trustees must work with teachers and principals to ensure privacy is a constant. 

Janice John-Mitchell

If a child is being harmed they must be given that safety net to ensure they can reach out in the school or community for help. I would partner with professionals and stakeholders to ensure the language and the policy is there to facilitate this.

Children have the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Repeated studies have indicated that exclusionary home and school environments — those which deny or invalidate a young person’s gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability — are linked to negative mental health consequences.

If elected, how will you defend the right to health of students?

Eduardo George Sousa

These questions are all related and I again point to the answers I have given above. Pointing to my platform plank, “Care for All,” I will work to ensure that all children feel safe. But I will also want to create a mechanism or a process that looks at the mental health impacts of what two years of living through the pandemic has had on the children at all age groups (and of course similarly with teachers and other support workers), and work towards solutions.

Jennifer Strachan

Diversity and inclusion policies must be in place and continually reviewed to protect students in living their authentic life. It is not enough to collaboratively build and promote strong policies, it is also critical to ensure the wrap-around services are available to support those journeys. Partnerships with both private and public sector agencies and advocates will ensure I, as a trustee, am open to diverse thought and evolving research and opportunities to better support all students in the district.  

Johanne Kemmler

Every child deserves to thrive in our school district. I will not tolerate discrimination of any sort, including gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability. My commitment is to create learning environments where all students are free from discrimination and able to express themselves fully.

Janice John-Mitchell

I would encourage anti-prejudice policies and encourage a more direct referral to professionals like doctors.

Cindy Lise

Students do better when in a supportive environment where they are emotionally and physically healthy. By developing healthy school environments, we can set up students for success in the classroom and beyond. I would advocate for programs and resources that enhance physical, mental and social health of the whole school community. (There are already many, but are there some that require more resources.) I would include parents and support them with resources to help them understand the topic, continue to promote day-to-day practices that support and encourage healthy behaviours and ensure our schools are safe spaces for youth to bring forward adverse childhood experiences and traumas to caring and supportive staff that have the tools and knowledge to support them. 

Joe Thorne

Safety is, and always will be, [a] priority in all schools in B.C. So investigate any and all offered to be if it students is a must we’ve all gone through the fear confusion of COVID and the best was and is being done to accommodate safety first.

Elizabeth Croft

Just to be clear, we’re equating inclusion to health, which is as it should be. A school can’t “make” children accept other kids or become friends with someone they don’t like. What we do is teach endlessly about inclusion, about treating everyone in the school community with respect and kindness. This is mostly with positive modeling and reflection. I’ve already referenced the emphasis on inclusion above. We also defend the right of health to students by working with partners to provide school meals and send meals home for the weekend. Each school makes sure all kids have gym equipment, can go on all the field trips and have what they need to fully participate. It’s healthy to be outside more and we’re adding outdoor classrooms all the time. At the moment, the district hasn’t noted a need to defend these things (who would want to take them away?), rather we’re working to promote health and well-being. We doubled the budget for health and well-being this year. And we will work to enhance health and wellness programming to better respond to the lingering effects of COVID.  

Laura Interlandi

I have direct experience as a doula and family support worker helping to empower parents with skills and tools, resources and encouragement to meet their children’s needs. I also have skills, experience and receive ongoing mentorship in the area of queer and trans family support. The stats are clear, affirming care/education/community saves lives. I am willing and able to show up wherever is most helpful in the journey of making our schools and community safer and more inclusive. Disability justice, including for neurodivergent students, is essential in meeting basic human rights. The mental health support access crisis in our community is a disability justice issue. This is not just a school board problem, this is a health care problem at the provincial level and our students are at risk because of the lack of resources. People with disabilities need to also be included in infrastructure planning and educational consultations as it is rare that developers and boards see what someone with lived and community experience sees. In 2022 it is completely unacceptable that some schools and playgrounds still do not have provisions for disabled students and families. Education Assistants also need support, respect and funding to feel successful in showing up for our kids with special needs and designations. This is a very broad issue that deserves all directional attention. 

Shannon Collum

I 100 per cent agree that the mental and physical health of children should be of the highest importance and ensuring that children have safe access to inclusive and validating spaces, information, and environments is one of my top priorities.

Children who belong to religious or linguistic minority groups, or who are Indigenous, have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language, in community with other members of their group.

If elected, how will you defend the rights of religious and linguistic minoritized students, as well as Indigenous students?

Cindy Lise

Establish a school wide culture of equity and inclusion! Defending rights is to acknowledge and celebrate the diversities and the incredible gifts that they bring to our world. Provide opportunities to learn about differences through school events, celebrations and curriculum.  Bring in the community to the schools (One World Festivals, for example). Address bullying that is associated with religious or racial diversity head on (for example, attacks on Muslims, Sikhs or Black people). Safety begins in the classroom but extends to every space including the bus, restroom or playground. Providing policies and resources for all staff and setting expectations will help to build safe schools for everyone. Our district is doing incredible work and I would continue to follow the path set forward in the strategic plan. I would also stand with the Community of Caring Pledge.

Johanne Kemmler

I have begun my truth and reconciliation journey. I will encourage all educators, families and students to forge their own journey.  This does not only apply to our Indigenous students but to all students who are marginalized. The lessons learned will encompass all marginalized and minoritized students.

Shannon Collum

I believe in making sure that all people have the ability to enjoy, practice and learn about their history, language, community and religion in a safe environment. And I also believe it is important for children who don’t belong to these minority groups to learn about them as well. Learning to recognize, respect and honor other people’s lived experiences is an important part of being a well-rounded individual.  

Jennifer Strachan

As a parent of an elementary school student, I value the opportunity for them to learn from classmates. By seeking out and embracing unique and diverse learning opportunities, this not only recognizes the importance of each student’s diversity, but also demonstrates value in what their culture, language and history brings to their classmates, school and school district. As a trustee, I will seek out opportunities and advocate for recognition of language and cultural experiences to support the enrichment of all students. 

Laura Interlandi

This is a great question! I feel a bit stumped on this in terms of the actualization of that in a school day, for example, but I am in full support of defending these rights and encouraging diversity of speech/religion and cultural practice in our schools. A young Indigenous student in Vernon asked a great question of school trustees last week online, which I’ll paraphrase: How will you acknowledge that the testing and rubrics for grading in our schools often counter Indigenous knowledge keeping ways and Indigenous ways of knowing? This is an example of critical thought that must be applied if we are going to really walk together on a path of educational reconciliation. Is it appropriate to adopt symbols and practices of our Indigenous communities but not also authentically honour other ways of learning/knowing/practicing knowledge keeping? What would our Indigenous graduation rates be if Indigenous students could practice local knowledge/skill keeping as the bulk of their schooling? One of the characteristics of white supremacy culture is the worship of the written word. We understand Indigenous cultures to be oral cultures. Where is this reflected in schools?  These are all important questions to ask on the path of actualizing reconciliation and the legacy of educational trauma in our community. 

Eduardo George Sousa

I will look to see not only how SOGI is being implemented and where and where not, but also I am interested in commissioning a gap analysis on how and if Universal Rights of the Child are being complied with, as well as UNDRIP and DRIPA. 

Elizabeth Croft

I will defend those rights by continuing to promote more cultural and social justice programming in schools. I also work for the Cowichan Intercultural Society and write the grants that put major equity and inclusion programs in schools – that covers all the aspects you’ve mentioned above. We have policy and practices which I will defend if they are in the least threatened or forgotten. We haven’t considered children of varying abilities or diverse learners. They are vulnerable because the Ministry simply doesn’t provide enough funding. I defend the rights of those minority students by diverting an additional 50 cents for every dollar received from the Ministry. I’ll further defend them by pursuing funding from surplus to hire staff in the short term while advocating for adequate funding. I am currently educating the community about racism in our area, after overseeing a major study. This I’ll continue to do to defend children.

Joe Thorne

Each nationality is different so to learn traditions is key to a better and clear understanding of all. Again refer to change gradually in history, must happen to best clarity, understanding — education is key to this important matter. 

Janice John Mitchell

By encouraging policies of inclusion and diversity created by people of said demographic.

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