2021 May 19: Into the blue again after the money’s gone

DM: Credit to  Alana-Joy Johnson (5/17/21email to Board of Education Sd61  with permission) and Talking Heads.

To our SD 61 decision makers,
On Saturday over 1000 people came to oppose SD 61’s proposed budget and the lack of consultation in its creation. I was privileged to be asked to speak by Cindy Romphf as a representative of the music educators in our district and as a Haida woman.

I am glad to see that the budgeting process has been extended until the end of June. [It has been extended to May 31, and if all 3 readings of the Bylaw do not recieve unanimous approval, the reading will go to a special meeting scheduled for June 1. ]  I hope that you will continue to listen to the community as we advocate for our students and all those concerned with the education of our students.

As should be the case for a rally focused a lot on the cuts to music education, I made my speech into a song. Enjoy this parody of Talking Head’s Once in a Lifetime.

Video: https://youtu.be/XgunCG2NKLA

Summary of my recommendations to the superintendent, secretary-treasurer, and board of SD 61:
1) I call on the board to identify and alter all by-laws that limit Indigenous decision makers from being “at the table.” We have been excluded for far too long and deserve to be listened to and consulted at every single meeting.
2) I call on Ryan Painter and all other board members who did not intervene during the meeting on March 1 to each personally issue a public apology and a culturally appropriate private apology with each Songhees/Esquimalt representative who was at that meeting.
3) I call on the board to work on a new budget and take all time needed until the end of June to submit their final balanced budget to the ministry.
4) I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members to:
a. familiarize themselves with the TRC, its history, and research how other school districts and organizations are implementing it.
b. Create a transparent plan of action for how they will implement these TRC recommendations into their decision making processes
5) I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and board chair to publicly apologize:
a. to the music educators who work so hard to make their classrooms an inclusive space
b. to the Indigenous students who are in band, strings or choir and have faced erasure by these comments
c. to the parents of these Indigenous students who were not consulted or considered when these assertions were made
6) I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and board chair to post a public comparison of the numbers on the roster of Indigenous students in SD 61 and how many of those students take strings, choir or band.
7) I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and board chair to spend time explaining in an easy-to-understand way how money is being spent, where it is coming from, and why it is moving away from serving our students to cover building upgrades.
8 ) I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members to:
a. familiarize themselves with UNDRIP, its history, and research how other school districts and organizations are implementing it.
b. Create a transparent plan of action for how they will implement these UNDRIP recommendations into their decision making processes
9) I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members to be required to annually refamiliarize themselves with the history of residential schools in Canada, either through a university course, by studying the TRC in a board meeting, attending a blanket exercise, or another similar learning experience.
10)  I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members to take a crash course in logic and familiarize themselves with logical fallacies and how to avoid them in arguments.
11)  I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members to familiarize themselves with local First Nations stories, either by sitting in circle with elders and community members, or by reading from the abundant amount of books available by Coast Salish, kwakwaka’wakw, and Nuu-chah-nulth authors.
12)  I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members to write a personal reflection on what reconciliation means and compare it to the definition in the TRC. If these two definitions do not match, I call on that person to resign from their position.
13)  I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members, in consultation with Indigenous community members, to write practical, tangible steps they will take to create this safe space and to publish them so the public can hold them accountable.
14)  I call on the superintendent, secretary-treasurer and all board members to create relationships with Indigenous community members and compensate them fairly for their wisdom and experience that they can share in the decision making processes of our school district.

Haawa to Natasha Parrish, Aaron M. Wells Jenn Treble, Jen Hill, Kaehlen Allison, Kear Porttris, Brianne Parrish, Mandart Chan, and Stephen Johnson for being a part of the creation and presentation of these thoughts.

Sincerely,
Alana Johnson

 

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