It was a tight race, with 12 candidates vying for only five spots representing Campbell River on the School District 72 Board of Education, but Kat Eddy came away with one of them, replacing incumbent Ted Foster on the board for the upcoming term.
But it wasn’t a pleasant campaign, she says, and it was one the community will likely need some time to recover from.
“When I came into this campaign, I wanted to build better connections between parents and schools, inspire educators to take risks with technology and use it in their classrooms,” Eddy said as she waited for the results to come in Saturday night. “I wanted to have the Indiginous community step up and say ‘we have some knowledge that we want to share’ and share their history pre-European contact and share that with our students. That’s why I was inspired to run and that’s what I wanted to support, but all I’ve done is fight against the anti-SOGI movement.”
It’s not like she didn’t think SOGI 123 – a set of resources the Ministry of Education has made available to public schools more inclusive, welcoming environments, especially for LGBTQ+ children – wouldn’t be part of the discussion. She knew it was a hot-button issue these days.
“When I threw my hat in the ring, I knew that SOGI would be an issue, but I didn’t realize that it would be the only issue,” Eddy says. “It’s the only thing we’ve been talking about in our community and it’s been really divisive and it’s really been hurting people – especially those in the LGBTQ+ community and their families. It’s terrifying to me. I don’t believe that’s how our community is, but what the anti-SOGI campaign has done is create a platform for people who are ignorant to step up behind their screens to say hateful things. That doesn’t do anything for anybody.
“So now our community needs to heal from this,” she continues. “These families have been beaten on for the last month, and that’s not okay. It disturbs me that this community that I love so much is so divided over something that is a human right.”
As for what she’s hoping for now that she’s got a seat around the table at the school district board room, Eddy says she’s looking forward to promoting the things she wanted to promote during the campaign and moving the district forward in a positive way.
“I had an interesting conversation last night with an 18-year-old girl,” she says. “And she was asking me about SOGI and we were talking about that kind of stuff, and she opened up and told me this really powerful and impactful story about what happened to her during her educational experience. As a trustee, I want to make sure we open those channels of communication. I want us old people to hear what’s actually happening in the schools directly from the youth who are in them. I want to hear from parents. While we’re developing a strategic plan, I want to be able to listen to the needs of the parents and the children of our community so we can address them directly.”
“Kids learn when they feel accepted and when they feel honoured regardless of what flag they fly or what colour they are or what background they come from,” she continues. “They need to feel accepted and not vulnerable in their schools. As much work as we’re doing around anti-bullying and stuff, that’s old people hanging posters on the walls. That’s not actually happening at the core level with the bullies and the kids being bullied. We need to really understand what’s going on and the only way to do that is to listen to kids.”