COPE seeks aboriginal mini school

Diana Day wants an aboriginal mini school for high school students in Vancouver.

She participated in a parent advisory council, the Vancouver School Board’s Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement committee, the District PAC and tried to get on the committee that influenced the establishment of an aboriginal focus school for elementary students in Vancouver.

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Now the indigenous woman who works on aboriginal health for Vancouver Coastal Health is running to be a VSB trustee with COPE in the Nov. 15 election to ensure a strong voice for aboriginal parents.
Day contends aboriginal students are too often “pushed” into alternative programs, “but not all our kids are alternative kids.”

She believes aboriginal students need a culturally safe mini school to smooth their transition into high school. She envisions a mini school where students of any background could learn about local aboriginal history.

Day says the most recent Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement report states aboriginal students are six times more likely to be bullied than other students.

“Anti-racism is a big thing,” she said. “We need to educate not only the students, but also the staff and the teachers on that from all the way from the superintendent down to the janitors.”

Day, a staff liaison member of the Urban Aboriginal Peoples Advisory Committee to the City of Vancouver, touts broad support for focusing on the needs of aboriginal learners. She notes the B.C. Confederation of PACs made resolutions last May about indigenous education and maintains investing in the aboriginal community benefits everyone.  

Ilana Shecter, one of COPE’s four other trustee candidates for nine trustee seats, highlights advocating for anti-poverty and anti-discrimination policies in schools in her platform.

She also wants to:

  • Help create a students’ environmental bill of rights that would be student-led and educate students on the problems and solutions of climate change.
  • Implement meaningful youth-led partnerships and mentorships through sustainable programming and educational talks.
  • Refuse to make funding cuts to public education.

Shecter believes the VSB could refuse to submit a balanced budget to the province, as required by the School Act, and resist being penalized if citizens mobilized in support of adequate funding for education.

Shecter says COPE trustees would work to get board meetings into community centres to engage parents in sincere and transparent consultation. She believes students could find creative ways to advocate for additional funding.

Shecter doesn’t have children but the 23-year-old student politician at the University of B.C. and environmental activist believes a young voice is needed at the board.

“There’s a student trustee but the dynamics of power are different in that sense,” she said.

Schecter is part of the Youth Rise Up coalition that declares Vancouver is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and that elected officials are too influenced by developers. It also wants more young people to vote.

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