At New Westminster Schools we are proud of the rich and diverse backgrounds our students, staff and families represent. And we’re committed to celebrating that diversity, while we foster and build more inclusive environments.

But we also know that’s not enough, as we look at the racism and inequities that still exists  both in our schools and our community.

And that’s part of why the board of education made a commitment last Spring to develop anti-racism policies and create more opportunities to engage in anti-racism work.

But, what does it mean to be anti-racist?

Our district’s new Principal for Equity and Inclusion, Rav Johal, framed it this way, “We all know we don’t want to be racist. But as we look at the barriers to equity and inclusion that people, including our students, are still facing, we also know we need to do more. We need to listen, to seek those barriers out and work to dismantle them or stand against them. It’s about actively fighting the racism that harms those around us … and that can be a very personal journey, an uncomfortable one as we dig into the systemic roots of racism and privilege, and it can also be a very collaborative experience as we work together to raise the profile of the realities we’re trying to change.”

That’s why New Westminster Schools was inspired to join in an inaugural event being organized by a local anti-racism group, Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC) Vancouver: Black Shirt Day.

Black Shirt Day [took] place on Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and sets the stage for more conversations as we lead into Black History Month in February. Much like Pink or Orange Shirt Day, Black Shirt Day provides us with an opportunity to raise the profile of the struggles black and racialized people have faced and continue to face while we show our personal and collective commitment to doing more to be part of the solution when it comes to dismantling the systemic racism we know exists all around us.

This story has been reproduced with permission from School District 40 (New Westminster). The original posting can be found here.

Photo by Kiana Bosman.