COVID -19 Series: Secondary We Stand United Against Racism
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June 17, 2020
Secondary Snapshot:

Greater Victoria School District: 

As a learning community, we play an important role in creating safe and inclusive environments for all of our students.  In light of recent events, locally and globally, our Board, our Staff, and Educational Partners are reaffirming that there is no tolerance for hate in our schools.  Diversity is our strength and we must continue to work together to build a more just society #OneLearningCommunity #WeStandUnitedAgainstRacism
Engaging Youth in Conversations about Racism:
As a society, public discussions about racism have increased in volume and intensity; young people want to be part of the conversation and should be. If handled effectively, these discussions provide opportunities for timely learning together and real insight into all of our conscious and unconscious beliefs, values and actions. These conversations can be uncomfortable as strong emotions can emerge - it is important to be aware of your own triggers and sensitivities in order to learn along side your teen.  
There‘s no question: talking about race can be sensitive, and yes, even a bit messy. And “choosing” whether or not to talk to your kids about race is an option many parents don‘t have; some youth may inevitably learn about it by confronting racism in their everyday lives. This topic and conversation will inevitably be different for every person and family; we hope this snapshot provides some support for the conversation.  
Strategies for a Conversation about Racism:
Set up a safe and respectful space:. Create some ground rules for the conversation to ensure is stays safe, inclusive and respectful. Are their topics that will be more or less triggering? Have you created enough time for the conversation, without distractions?

Start by defining terms:. It is important that everyone in the conversation has the same understanding of terms. For example, there is a difference between prejudice, bias, stereotypes and discrimination; knowing what makes each of these unique is an important foundation for a constructive conversation. See below for clear definitions.

Connect the past to the present:  For many of our youth, this is their first experience with a massive protest movement. Connecting this experience to past events, can provide context and a broader understanding of issues particular to Victoria, our province and our country. Some helpful resources are listed in the resource section.

Understand Perspective:  Perspective is a person's individual way of regarding situations and facts.  It is important to help teens understand that their perspective is shaped by their own racial background as well as other aspects of their identity, their peers, family, life experiences and exposure on social media. It can be helpful to explore your own point of view through this context as well.  

Encourage Empathy: Compassion and empathy go a long way in helping teens understand race and racism.  It can be very powerful to investigate together,stories of people most impacted by racism through videos, photos, articles, interviews etc. The resource section at the end of the newsletter provides a starting place for this journey.

Maintain emotional safety: When we uncover bias, discrimination and injustice with our children, it is important we don't leave them with overwhelming feelings of hopelessness.  Continue to check in with your teen and offer opportunities to debrief with family or with supports in the community and/or school. Let your youth let you know, how much they can handle.


Racism: Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to physical appearance and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another.

Prejudice: an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason. Any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable. Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.

Bias: An inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment.
Stereotype: an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. The type of expectation can vary; it can be, for example, an expectation about the group's personality, preferences, or ability.
Privilege: Privilege is a special advantage not enjoyed by everyone. Privilege comes from Latin privilegium, meaning a law for just one person, and means a benefit enjoyed by an individual or group beyond what's available to others.
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Videos that explore Racism & Privilege:


"Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man"

Emmanuel Acho discusses racism, system racism, social injustice, and rioting with Matthew McConaughey.  Acho has stated he started this series to help white individuals start discussing uncomfortable conversations around race.  

"You have a Rite"

Marc Bamuthis Joseph, in a jazz inflected spoken word performance, shares a Black father's internal reflection on the pride and terror of seeing his son enter adulthood.

"Lessons in White Privilege from a Light-Skinned L'Nu"

Mercedes Peters, a Mi'kmaq Masters student in History at Dalhousie University from Wolastoqiyik Territory and  Glooscap First Nations discusses her experiences with white privilege.  

Becoming an Anti-Racist:

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Healing a Nation through Truth and Reconciliation Canada - Chief Dr. Robert Joseph


Indigenous Cultural Safety:

Canadians are called upon to acknowledge and address the far-reaching impacts of colonization and the residential school system for generations of Indigenous families.  "The idea that Indigenous peoples are 'stuck' in the past can lead to the stereotype that Indigenous people are unwilling or unable to 'get better.'  
This stereotype can foster prejudice.  Being aware of how these narratives lead to stereotypes can reduce prejudice and discrimination." (Ward, Branch, Fridkin, 2016) Through education and understanding, these narratives can shift to stories of empowerment and resilience within a rich cultural history.
Cultural Awareness An attitude that includes awareness about differences between cultures.

Cultural Sensitivity:  An attitude that recognizes the differences between cultures and that these differences are important to acknowledge.

Cultural Competency:  An approach that focuses on individuals attaining skills, knowledge, and attitudes to work in more effective and respectful ways with people of different cultures.

Cultural Humility An approach based on humble acknowledgment of oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding a person's experience.

Cultural Safety An approach that considers how social and historical contexts, as well as structural and interpersonal power imbalances, shape experiences. (Ward, Branch, Fridkin, 2016)

Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy:

The Government of Canada developed an anti-racism strategy for 2019 - 2022, called "Building a Foundation for Change".  The program includes investing 30 million dollars into community based interventions to combat racism, and an Indigenous Approach to change and public awareness.

Dear Parents, Guardians and District Staff,

This will be our last Snapshot for the school year. Our hope is that we have provided you with information and resources that you have found helpful in your journey as a parent or in your role as an educator or counsellor in our district. We thank you for your readership! This school year we have had 61,000 persons read our Snapshots. This inspires us and encourages us to keep going. We look forward to returning to monthly Snapshots in September 2020.
Learning Resources   Snapshot References:
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