The message below was sent to all CBE staff members from Chief Superintendent Christopher Usih on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
I am writing to share
“What We Heard”
, a compilation of voices and information gathered between November 2020 and March 2021 from the CBE CARES! (Collaboration for Anti-Racism and Equity Supports) Advisory Council meetings and listening sessions.
Prepared by Dr. Marie Delorme, the “What We Heard” report reflects the perspectives of the parents, caregivers, students, staff, community members, and Indigenous Elders who generously gave their time, shared their stories, and provided potential next steps for consideration by CBE.
Some of the stories and perspectives shared in the report are difficult to hear. We, as a system, work hard to create safe, caring and inclusive learning and working environments. But the participants made it clear that there are many ways we can do better. Although it may make us feel uncomfortable, we must acknowledge that racism and discrimination do happen in our schools and workplaces. I hope you will agree that even one incident of racism or discrimination is one too many, and we must, as a system, do better.
Based on the input gathered from participants, we heard we can do better in two key ways:
- Name it. Continue to acknowledge that racism and all forms of discrimination exist and create barriers to an inclusive and equitable learning and work environment.
- Commit to Action. Share the concrete actions we have taken and will be taking to address racism and discrimination in the CBE.
The CBE will not tolerate racism or any form of discrimination based on gender, ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, other. These are protected rights under the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the
Alberta Human Rights Act.
The Education Act also makes a commitment to equity and inclusion for all. All persons are entitled to these protections under the law.
I’ve heard from many staff that we want to do the right thing, because we care deeply. However, good intentions are not enough. Intent does not negate impact. We must take proactive steps to disrupt this behaviour in our schools and workplaces. This means speaking up if you witness racism or discrimination, and committing as a system to more professional learning. Our first system-wide Professional Learning Day on Indigenous Education is a good example of how we can advance this important work. We are exploring other opportunities for professional learning this year and will keep you informed.
Addressing racism and discrimination is our collective responsibility. Everyone has a role to play — staff, students, parents, caregivers, volunteers, and the entire community. If we come to the table with open hearts and minds, and in a supportive way, I believe change is possible. I know this because every day, I witness the excellent work happening in our schools and across the district to support student learning and well-being. Even in these challenging times, staff continue to demonstrate care, compassion, and resiliency in service to students and families.
I encourage you to read the report in its entirety. As you read and “listen” to the voices of students, colleagues, parents, caregivers, and Indigenous Elders, please ask yourself this question: What can I do to make things better? It all starts with a conversation and a willingness to learn.
I thank you on behalf of our students, staff, families and community.
Chief Superintendent of Schools