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Vancouver school trustee steps down from two committees after making racial comments

(Kenny Mason, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — After making some racial comments at a meeting last week, a Vancouver school trustee has voluntarily stepped down from two committees but will remain on the board.

Last week, the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association demanded Fraser Ballantyne’s resignation after he said “Caucasian kids are actually the visible minority” in local schools.

At the time, he was defending the District’s school liaison officer program –which VESTA wants suspended.

“As a trustee of the Vancouver School Board, my role is to ensure a culture of care and shared social responsibility and to provide effective leadership, governance and stewardship across the District. I failed in this regard on Monday [June 22],” an open letter from Ballantyne reads.

Ballantyne has stepped down as the liaison for the BC School Trustees Association and the board’s chair of the Policy and Governance Committee and as a member of the Finance Committee.

“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. ”

The VESTA said last week Ballantyne’s comments indicate a significant lack of awareness of the systemic nature of racism in the school system.

In an open letter to Ballantyne, the association said he has a responsibility to students, families, teachers, and citizens, which includes educating himself about racism and colonialism, and “about the differential ways that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour experience the school system.”