Surrey’s schools, along with those in the rest of the province, will introduce a new action plan to address racism in B.C.’s educational buildings, an issue that was acknowledged as a concern in the Surrey school district — the province’s largest district — in 2021.
The Ministry of Education and Child Care announced the action plan on Monday (Jan. 23) as a way to empower students and educators by actively addressing racism in schools.
Experiences of racism and discrimination were detailed by Surrey students, educators and parents in a report which was conducted in spring 2021 and released in September 2022.
Since the report was publicly released, School District No. 36 established a Racial Equity department led by JB Mahli, the director of instruction. Mahli will form the five-year plan for the district with respect to other BIPOC individuals in the school community, reads a release from Surrey Schools.
“For generations, Indigenous, Black and people of colour have worked to fit into a system that wasn’t necessarily built for them,” Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives, stated in a release from the Ministry of Education and Child Care.
“The K-12 Anti-Racism Action Plan will help students and educators alike learn how to build more inclusive and equitable learning environments, so more students have equal opportunities to succeed. This action plan is an important part of our work to decolonize our institutions and build a better B.C. for everyone.”
In the Surrey and White Rock areas, the five-year plan will be developed using a list of recommendations that were board-approved in September 2022.
“As a school district, we are committed to learning, growth, and continuous improvement,” said Laurie Larsen, school board chair.
“Our district has clear policies on creating safe and caring environments for our staff and students. But we also recognize that there is more work needed.
Larsen also said that the plan will be shared in coming months to show how the district plans on ensuring “that every student in our district receives a high quality, culturally sustaining and socially just education.”