Candidate Christian Stapff addresses the initial questions from DPAC. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River school trustee candidates sound off on issues

Discussion topics include school closures and SOGI 123

The dozen candidates vying for the right to sit on the school board had a chance to make a pitch to voters Friday night at Thunderbird Hall.

All 12 trying to win one of five Campbell River seats on the board of education were in attendance at the event, organized by the district parent advisory council (DPAC). Approximately 100 people showed up for the start of the evening, though the ranks thinned somewhat as the event went on.

After an intermission, the candidates took a few questions from the audience. Roughly half of the questions dealt with the SOGI 123, the Ministry of Education’s contentious program aimed at making schools more welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ students, so the organizers simply had the candidates state their position on the issue. Most, including the current trustees, support SOGI 123, while an unofficial slate of three candidates – Vanessa MacLean, Manfred Hack and Andrew Beaudin – have opposed it. Another candidate, Peter Sutherland, has expressed opposition but is running independently.

The other couple of questions from the public focused on how they would handle funding shortfalls in terms of measures like staffing cuts or school closures. Some of the candidates spoke about the difficulties around closures, like Daryl Hagen who spoke about the drop in enrolment from 8,000 to around 5,000, which required the board to make some drastic cuts.

John Kerr added, “It was a hard decision to make…. but sometimes you have to make hard decisions.”

Joyce McMann said one of the biggest challenges for the district is making sure there are enough support staff when they face difficult fiscal choices.

To start the evening, each candidate was given five minutes to address questions from the DPAC around why each wants to be a trustee, what things the district needs to get right over the next decade, how to create an understanding of Canada’s history with First Nations, Metis and Inuit and what can be done to contribute to the overall mental health and well-being of students and staff.

Most of the candidates managed to compress answers to the four questions into the five minutes they had, though a few focused primarily around their personal experiences with teachers and why they wanted to be trustees.

Some such as Kat Eddy, who does literacy work, pointed out what happens when students become adults without necessary reading skills.

“I really see the tail end of the education system,” she said, highlighting the need to read to kids before they reach school age.

Some, like Christian Stapff, himself a teacher, spoke about the need to keep teachers excited about their work, especially in light of curriculum changes and challenges posed by the changing economy.

“A lot of the jobs are going to change or disappear,” he said.

A couple of candidates spoke about SOGI 123, especially Vanessa MacLean, who focused almost exclusively on the topic.

“I see parental rights being eroded,” MacLean said. “This program called SOGI – Sexual Orientation Gender Identity – 123 is the most frightening program I’ve ever seen coming into B.C. public school education. It falsely claims to prevent bullying…. Where is the parents’ say in all this?”

She also said she wants greater transparency in budgeting and finances, more age-appropriate resources especially around sex education and greater oversight of counsellors through a governing body.

“They need policing and they need to use methods that are clinically sound,” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Kat Eddy talks about the importance of early reading skills. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Daryl Hagen addressed a question. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Klahoose First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Cortes Island community has had one positive test, one other potential case

An aerial view of Zeballos. (Photo/A. Janisse)
Zeballos closes public service areas ahead of second wave

Library, landfill and village office closed until further notice, says mayor

Greenways Land Trust Executive Director Cynthia Bendickson points out one particular area of concern within the Baikie Island Nature Reserve that hasn’t benefitted from replanting efforts due to soil compaction and pollution from its days as a log sort. File Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Greenways Land Trust gets $275K for restoration work on Baikie Island

Two-year project will start with the development of a 10-year plan for the area

Campbell River city council recently held a roundtable meeting with leaders from the aquaculture and forestry industries to discuss how they can be part of a post-COVID economic recovery in the region.
Campbell River city council holds roundtable on aquaculture, forestry

Will go forward with quarterly meetings involving industry leaders to address issues in the sectors

The Carihi Fly Fishing Club is touted as an example of incorporating the outdoors into the education curriculum in SD72. Photo submitted.
SD72 schools and educators embrace outdoor education and learning outdoors

The Campbell River School District has embraced the movement to incorporate nature… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Gracie couldn’t stop nursing from her previous owner’s goats which was problematic given the goats were trying to be dried out to breed. Gracie now lives at A Home for Hooves. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Cowichan animal sanctuary gets international accreditation

A Home for Hooves farm sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

Most Read