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Anti-racism learning group supports teachers looking to tackle tough topics with students

40 Campbell River educators taking part in monthly discussions
The monthly meetings are a safe space to talk about difficult issues. SD 72 image

Forty Campbell River educators have been gathering in libraries and learning commons this school year to discuss better ways of introducing issues of racism and bias to their students.

The anti-racism learning group was started by Rachel Friedrich, Gillian Kirke, and a group of educators at École Phoenix Middle School in September.

“We were having a conversation about anti-racism, and felt we have a responsibility to learn, said Kirke, who is the Indigenous Education Resource Coordinator for School District 72.

Many incidents over the last two years have brought conversations of racial disparities to the forefront, and Kirke said local teachers are looking for ways to broach these topics in their classroom with some sensitivity.

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The group is using the book Courageous Conversations about Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools and Beyond by Glenn E. Singleton as the framework.

“It poses lots of really good questions,” Kirke said. “It makes us think about our own personal bias, and how we come to have our beliefs.”

She noted members of the group have also been sending in additional resources through emails in between session, which have added to the discourse.

While Kirke, Firedirch, and Kash Ward are facilitating the discussion, Kirke makes it clear the meetings are by no means lectures.

“The three of us aren’t teaching anybody. We’re also learning.. We’re all learning together,” she said.

“We want this to be a safe space to have those uncomfortable conversations.”

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