The Delta School District has debuted a student-led anti-racism video, the first in a series to be released this fall.
In 2021, the district received a $10,000 BC Multiculturalism Grant for “Student Agency and Voice,” an initiative aims to fight anti-BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) racism and allow high school students across Delta to engage in anti-racism advocacy and projects in their schools.
Based out of North Delta’s Sands Secondary, one of the key deliverables from this project was to be an educational video to support anti-racism learning throughout the district.
In collaboration with filmmaker Kama Sood — a South Delta Secondary graduate and one of the first students to attend the district’s film academy — students from all seven of Delta’s secondary schools have instead developed a number of videos to spark school-wide conversations and help provide direct action against racism in their schools.
Topics covered in the videos include racism in sport, the immigrant experience in Canada and the positive contributions of racialized people.
“The videos will be shared in classrooms across Delta and we hope they will make a positive difference by helping students, staff and the wider community be more aware of what constitutes racism and encouraging them to take steps to be anti-racist,” Satnam Chahal, Nancy Gordon and Brooke Moore, co-chairs of the district’s anti-racism committee, said in a press release.
The first of the videos (“A Conversation on Racism with Students of the Delta School District”) was published to the district’s Vimeo page at the end of May and is available for public view at vimeo.com/715385279. Others videos in the series will be shared with students and released publicly this fall.
In addition to the videos, anti-racism committee teams in each of Delta’s secondary schools also conducted a survey of students this past school year to gather data on racism experienced or witnessed within the district. The results of that survey have not yet been released.
A similar survey of district staff conducted last fall found that more than half of the 430 staff members surveyed had witnessed or directly experience racism at work.
Respondents described interactions with students, parents and colleagues where they noticed others using stereotypes about race, ethnicity or culture, according to a press release this past spring that noted racism often shows itself via language, jokes, assumptions and beliefs that result in members of the school community being excluded.
“Many respondents also identified structural or systemic concerns that are deeply embedded and not always readily visible or conscious that lead to or prolong the unfair treatment of Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour,” the district said in a press release.
Examples cited include a lack of diversity within the curriculum, in leadership positions, policies and procedures, learning resources, at school concerts and assemblies, and in the acknowledgment of important dates.
The district, in consultation with the anti-racism committee, has committed to a number of actions including educating all staff on the district’s recently approved anti-racism procedure and their duty to uphold it, and helping staff members learn more about anti-racism. A working group of Delta educators developed a website (deltalearns.ca/antiracism) last year full of resources to help their colleagues and anyone else learn more.
Other actions the district committed to include recognizing significant days, months and cultural celebrations; supporting work sites in becoming more anti-racist; and requiring that future learning resource purchases are considered through an anti-racist lens, including prioritizing content created by those who identify as Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.