DSBN to create equity, inclusion and anti-racism committee

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District School Board of Niagara has announced the creation of an equity, inclusion and anti-racism advisory committee.

“Our work is not effective if it is not informed by the experiences, beliefs and needs of racialized people and groups in Niagara,” said Warren Hoshizaki, director of education.

DSBN said it is committed to identifying and eliminating all forms of discrimination and systemic barriers.

In support of those efforts, a part of DSBN’s committee vision is “to create a culture of transformative and impactful change through an inclusive design that uses an asset-based lens of our students and is anchored in anti-oppression, anti-racism and human rights.”

“It’s essential that we actively listen and create opportunities to speak with racialized individuals and communities in Niagara; our DSBN equity, inclusion and anti-racism advisory committee is one of the ways that we are doing this,” said Hoshizaki. “We are making progress, but there is more work to be done, and we will continue to create opportunities to listen with the intent of learning and incorporating these important voices into our organization.

A call for members was posted on the DSBN website and social media pages on Feb. 10. Applications will remain open until March 5.

The committee will be made up of two groups: community representation and the DSBN equity team.

Community representation will account for 11 of 15 seats; three community representatives from human rights and equity-focused organizations, two DSBN students and five parents/guardians/caregivers of DSBN students. An additional seat is available, but it hasn’t been allocated yet.

A position on the committee will be a two-year commitment that will end June 30, 2022.

DSBN equity team will fill the remaining four seats.

The equity team consists of Zakia Hamdani, consultant of equity, inclusion and anti-racism; Pratima Burton, student achievement leader of equity, inclusion and anti-racism; Kelly Pisek, superintendent of equity, inclusion and anti-racism; and Shannon Mitchell, chair of the trustee equity advisory committee.

Mitchell, a Niagara Falls trustee, said “it is crucial that the work the DSBN does genuinely reflects the needs of the community but, more importantly, the needs of our students.”

“As a trustee, it is important that our work always is conducted through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion. I am excited to work alongside our community partners and equity team to build an organizational atmosphere that minimizes bias, recognizes and works to eliminate inequities, and adequately address systemic racism. The experiences and voices of parents and students must inform our board’s policies.”

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3ppVudR.

Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: [email protected]