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Letter: Hugh Boyd event ‘heart-breaking,' says Richmond school board chair

Sandra Nixon is also encouraging people to get involved with a working group about experiences of racism and marginalization
Hugh Boyd secondary in Richmond

Dear Editor,

Re: “Toxic posts in the name of justice don’t fly,” Opinion, April 29.

Thank you for your recent editorial.

The incident involving the 14-year-old female student and 17-year-old male student on April 21 at Hugh Boyd Secondary is extremely distressing.

It is heart-breaking that this could occur at one of our schools, when our highest aim as a school district is to provide safe, supportive and inclusive environments for our young people to be able to grow, learn and thrive.

In this case, senior staff are working closely with the school administration and Richmond RCMP to ensure appropriate follow-up is occurring, and that all affected are being fully supported.

Like you, I was also disturbed to see some of the comments made on social media in response to the Richmond News story about this incident, and I thank you for reminding us that we need to “walk the talk” and model the inclusivity and compassion we say we believe in and want to see in our schools and community.

It was perhaps unfortunate timing that the report from the school district’s Diversity and Anti-Racism Working Group ended up on the same board meeting agenda as the budget “committee of the whole” last week.

Our current budget deliberations with the community are a priority for the board at the moment.

But this may have overshadowed the reporting out to our community of the important work the district has been doing through its Diversity and Anti-Racism (DAR) Working Group.

The working group was established by the board in June 2020, with a mandate to consult with students, staff, families and alumni regarding experiences of racism and marginalization, and to review current district practices and policies to identify priorities for action and to make recommendations.

The final report from the working group was presented to the board last week (included in the board agenda package and available online).

I encourage interested community members to read it, as it outlines the consultation process which was undertaken, and lays out what was heard, with eight key recommendations.

At the meeting, the board voted to establish a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Committee to work with staff to move forward on the priorities identified from the consultation.

This committee will function similarly to the SOGI Advisory Committee.

The district’s work in supporting equity, inclusion and diversity is identified as a key priority in the board’s Strategic Plan, and the board is looking forward to seeing the focused action which will flow from the working group recommendations, with input from the new advisory committee.

Sandra Nixon