North Shore Restorative Justice Society leads a workshop at a North Van
A new PAC committee at Queensbury Elementary, with
support from NSRJS,
is looking to enhance the school's BIPOC education.
Queensbury Elementary’s parent advisory council is hoping to facilitate
more awareness, understanding and education around diversity through the
formation of a new committee.
The BIPOC Committee (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) was
envisioned during the summer and had its first meeting this past fall,
according to Sioned Dyer, a Queensbury parent and committee member who’s
also the executive director of the North Shore Restorative Justice
“I see a desire to have greater conversations, to have meaningful
actions, and to support racialized folks in our communities,” said Dyer,
adding that many people around the world were galvanized this past year
following the death of George Floyd in the U.S.
“The North Shore community certainly has responded and recognized
there’s a need, not only to amplify diverse narratives, but also that
systemic racism does exist in our large institutions from top to
The BIPOC Committee initiative is being championed by Dyer, as well
as primary organizer Katie Scotland, along with other parents Nicole
Hughes, Shanna Robertson and Megan MacKenzie, with support from
Queensbury principal Kelly La Roue and vice-principal Carly Roy.
The committee is likely the first parent-led group like this on the North Shore, according to Dyer.
Throughout the school year, the committee hopes to promote equity,
diversity and inclusion in the school environment through various
Current initiatives include asking parents to donate books by diverse
authors to classroom libraries and helping to set up an online
catalogue of books that promote diversity. The committee is also
gathering resources to run a Black History Month awareness initiative
this February. Committee members are also aiming to launch a four-part series for parents
to promote the diverse, lived experiences of people from different
communities on the North Shore and how parents can support learning for
their children, according to Dyer.
The committee and school are also partnering with the Restorative Justice Society
to run a social justice project for students in grades 6 and 7, a
project similar to one that is also coming to Mountainside and
Sutherland secondaries, and will give students the opportunity to
discuss issues around the themes of diversity, equity and inclusion in a
safe space while hearing from thought leaders on the subject.
“We really want to do something for racialized students who we know
disproportionately receive punitive responses to behavioural issues –
they’re more likely to receive infractions, suspensions, expulsions.
They also don’t see themselves as greatly represented not only in the
teaching and the administration of the school district but also in
teaching materials and things of that nature,” said Dyer.
The North Vancouver School District is also gearing up to celebrate
Black History Month next month, with schools encouraged to lead or join
activities that support learning more about the contributions and
struggles of BIPOC Canadians, according to Lisa Dalla Vecchia, school
“We are pleased that our schools and PACs have and continue to take a
leadership role by supporting their communities with resources, tools,
and opportunities to engage in dialogue and learning – together,” said
At Ecole Argyle Secondary, students are being encouraged to wear a
black shirt this Friday (Jan. 15), the birthday of Martin Luther King
Jr., to reflect the importance of the Civil Rights Movement and a
commitment to continue to learn in response to a growing movement to
have the day christened Black Shirt Day.
In September, school trustees voted to set up a working group that includes Black, Indigenous and people of colour to dig into the issue of systemic racism in the school system and report back to the board with recommendations at the end of the school year.
The anti-racism working group has met and will continue to meet
throughout the school year, according to Dalla Vecchia. “There is a lot
of important work to do,” she said.
The goal of the group is to help the school district reflect on its
own practices to ensure all students and staff have equal opportunity
for success, break down any barriers that may affect BIPOC students or
staff, and create space for dialogue and communication, said Dalla