Coast Mountains School District 82 (CMSD82) has sent a letter to the First Nations Leadership Council regarding an alleged racist incident that took place at Mount Elizabeth Middle/Secondary School.
“The letter highlights some of the major initiatives the district is using to address the systemic racism,” said CMSD82 superintendent Janet Meyer.
The incident in question took place on Nov. 1 when a teacher allegedly mocked a student for wearing Indigenous regalia on picture day. That prompted students at Mount Elizabeth to organize a peaceful protest.
The letter is in response to a different letter the school district received on Nov. 9 with regarding the incident. The letter stated, “all forms of racism and discrimination, must be addressed and eliminated in the school district.” In its response, the district agrees with the statement and is assuring the leadership council that actions have been taken and will be taken to address the issue.
The letter continues and outlines its current and future strategies to work more inclusively.
“So the steps that we take and the priorities that are of the school district all stem from the board of education and they have identified as their strategic goals,” said Meyer.
“The board in their new plan has identified the planning and respect of culture and inclusion as one of their main goals.”
The first step is for every employee with CMSD82 to take part in Cultural Safety and Indigenous Competency training which will take place on Sept. 23, 2022. This training will incorporate the Gitxsan, Haisla, Nisga’a and Tsimshian peoples with leadership from each Nation invited to develop the training alongside the director of instruction for Indigenous education.
“There will be four different and distinct cultural safety and sensitivity training, if you’re in Stewart you will get training on the Nisga’a, if you’re in Terrace you’ll get training on the Tsimshian and if you’re in Kitimat you’ll receive training on the Haisla, we are working together with each of the four nations to create the training,” said Meyer.
The next step will include the district’s Indigenous Education Committee transitioning to being empowered as a decision-making partner.
Now that CMSD82 has acknowledged that racism does exist in its district, its new Strategic Plan for 2022 to 2027 will include an anti-racism commitment within its key goals. This will also include the prioritization of Indigenous student success.