‘I felt like I didn’t matter’: calls for anti-racism policies at emotional VSB meeting
Vancouver parents broke into tears during an emotional school board committee meeting, as they spoke of how their children and families were coping with anti-Black racism.
One 14-year-old student told members of the Vancouver School Board’s (VSB) policy and governance committee she spent her first year of high school holding her breath.
“I felt like I didn’t matter to my school and the adults in charge,” she said.
The young girl was enrolled at Lord Byng Secondary School last fall when a video laced with racist epithets and threats targeting Black students began circulating. It was filmed by a White student at the school.
Suzanne Daley, the girl’s mother, says the VSB did nothing to support them.
“My family felt alone, we felt unsupported, we felt like were were bothering the people in charge at the VSB,” Daley said.
“We felt like everybody was relieved when we finally left the school.”
The district says procedures were followed, with disciplinary and restorative measures put in place.
“The district and the school have worked with the community to provide the student body with anti-racism education, additional counselling opportunities for students, with individualized support plans, staff training and through the creation of a Byng Secondary Diversity and Inclusion Committee,” said the VSB in a statement.
The VSB hired a district resource teacher focused on anti-racism support and education. It also engaged Safer Schools to conduct a review of district practices and procedures.
However, parents and members of the community remain critical of the school and board’s handling of the November, 2018 incident.