How might we attend to DIVERSITY and INCLUSION in our schools? (shout out to Ward 12's Shaun C.)

My vision of "progressive, powerful education" includes the belief that diversity and inclusion are are critical to think about at school because they are a part of our daily existence; to ignore the diversity of the humans around ourselves and/or how we live well together (inclusion) is to ignore the very essence of our lives. None of the students, educators, or staff who enter a school each day, leave their ethnic, linguistic, socio-economic, (dis-)abled, gender or sexual identities at the front doors of the school building; as they are considering literature, science, mathematics, phys ed and health, they are deepening their understanding of what it means to be human - what a great opportunity to explicitly explore "diversity" and "inclusion" in rigorous, healthy ways!


That is the (largely) philosophical answer to your question and you may be asking, what does that philosophy look like in practice? As an example of my "hands on" approach to making diversity and inclusion a priority, during 2010 and 2011, I served as a volunteer member (I was on maternity leave) of the CBE's inaugural Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity committee, formed to establish a formal policy on best practice and decision-making in regards to our LGBTQTTA+ students and staff, which now looks like this: https://cbe.ab.ca/about-us/school-culture-and-environment/Documents/Guidelines-Attending-Gender-Identity-Gender-Expression-Sexual-Orientation-Schools.pdf


I am encouraged by the recent commitment by the CBE Board of Trustees to, for example, close schools on September 30th in observation of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and as importantly, to spend the days leading up to it in classrooms reading the stories and hearing the voices of the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, especially of those impacted by the residential school system of Canada. My own children have a far richer understanding than I did at their age and it's because of their CBE elementary school's teachers and leadership. My daughter's inquiry into Writing-On-Stone historic site (Aisinai'pi), brought to her attention by her Grade 6 teacher, motivated us to spend our first NDTR venturing there to tour the land and reflect on our shared past, present, and future. It surprises me to think that most of us will live our whole lives on and around the traditional and contemporary territories of the Blackfoot people, and never learn any of the Blackfoot language. This must be shocking to new Canadians living in Calgary or anyone who has lived abroad; language is just so important to place! On the other hand, it is quite exciting to think about all of the opportunities that exist to bring CBE students and teachers together with Indigenous Elders, languages, traditional and CONTEMPORARY cultural expression (#HalluciNation, #SNRK, #kentmonkman), ecology, and on and on, if we can just face, explore, and reconcile our shared histories and their legacies.


We have a long way to go when it comes to fulfilling our promise to children to celebrate our diversity and be inclusive spaces. I will be a mind and hands for working towards this promise!

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