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New Westminster school board doubles down on anti-racism commitment despite criticisms

Last Updated Oct 3, 2020 at 8:54 pm PST

FILE (Source: iStock)
Summary

The New Westminster School Board committed to anti-racism earlier this year but got some backlash for it

Now, the school board is doubling down in its support of BIPOC staff and students despite mixed reaction from parents

A member on the board explains while the conversations are complex they need to happen

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) —  The New Westminster School Board is facing criticism for pledging to do more to combat racism in the district, but it says it is still committed to anti-racism efforts started earlier this year.

This summer, the board sent out a letter in support of Black and Indigenous students and staff, referring to cases of police brutality and lending support to Black Lives Matter.

The board vice president, Gurveen Dhaliwal, explains that since BIPOC issues have often fallen through the cracks, the district will now create an anti-racism policy that is expected to be implemented in the late fall.

“We’ll be working with our stakeholders and creating a policy that really works for our students and our staff and our families,” she says.

“This is really important because we recognize that the lived experiences of our Black, Indigenous and students of color, is very different than White students.”

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As civil unrest continues to stem from different parts of the world and country, Dhaliwal adds that students require support and need schools to acknowledge the “systemic issues” at play.

But the response from some parents was criticism, accusing the board of fear-mongering and spreading anti-police messaging.

And while Dhaliwal says the subjects and conversations she is pushing for are complex, they need to happen.

“The response that we received from families really taught us something as well. This is why we have to do the work because these aren’t concepts that everybody necessarily understands, these aren’t the lived experiences of everybody, and not everybody has the critical analysis that we need to create systemic change,” she says.

Dhaliwal adds another part of introducing the anti-racism policy to reduce the stigma around talking about BIPOC issues.

“It’s very varied conversation and I think it’s we need to pull away from making it very black and white … it’s really important to engage in that conversation because that’s what’s going to make New Westminster schools more inclusive and more supportive of our students.”