Chairperson’s Report to Council for October 2023
The Lester B Pearson School Board is proud of the work we have done, are doing and will do to promote Equity, Diversity, Dignity and Inclusion in our board. These principles cross all sectors of the LBPSB – our schools and centres, our students, our employees, our council of commissioners, our stakeholders. As part of the LBPSB’s Vision and Values we state that we reflect and celebrate diversity, that we commit to honesty, equity and accountability and that we foster a respectful, nurturing and safe environment. We care deeply about the education our students receive. We care deeply about the support offered to students and employees to help them in their day-to day struggles in difficult circumstances, whatever those circumstances may be. Navigating the complexities of the world around us is hard. When at school, and the workplace, feeling safe and cared for is of paramount importance to us. The LBSPB is a diverse community. While respecting this diversity, and while embracing inclusion for all, we all have much to learn from each other, about each other and to recognize that although we don’t all think the same way, we aim to remain respectful and unified.
Almost 3 weeks ago the LBPSB lowered its flags in response to the crisis unfolding in the Middle-East, and sent out a message to our community to express our deepest sympathies for all affected by this terrible news. Our intention was to also share with the LBPSB community that student services and human resources services were immediately available to anyone feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping during this time. Words matter. What you say or do not say matters. Nuance matters. Hurt matters. We heard from many members of our diverse community that our initial message was not inclusive. We listened. We grappled with finding the right words. We sent an updated message to explain that we offer support for all students and employees during this challenging and difficult time. We acknowledged that our initial message did not resonate with everyone equally. We are truly sorry. The LBPSB condemns all acts of violence and hatred. Our commitment to peace is unwavering. In the coming days our flags will be raised again, symbolizing our hope for peace.
In my message last month, I mentioned support for our teachers facing great difficulty in their negotiations with the Quebec government. We are all well aware that the public sector common front which includes approximately 430,000 members from teachers and the health and social service network, is struggling to be heard and to be respected for their critical and valuable work in this Province. We hope the negotiations toward an acceptable contract offer move in your favour as quickly as possible. Without a doubt, this is difficult and frustrating work.
To close, please, at a time when we are feeling vulnerable, at a time when our students are living the reality of instability in the world around them, let us lead by example. Let us be civil, let us be kind, let us be the best we can be.