Respect is a core Value of our community. When we’re at our best, it’s alive in every interaction and decision. At the same time, we know that we have much to learn, including what it means to be a fully equitable, diverse and inclusive community. While we do have a EDI statement co-created by students, it’s now time to formally engage with our stakeholders to draw from their experiences in a way that helps to assess our situation, establish concrete action steps, and track the degree to which our daily behaviour matches our aspirations.
On September 25, 2020, Mr. Mark Turner (Head of School) announced the formation and mandate of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group (Becky Anderson, Keven Fletcher, and Keith Driscoll).
Over the past couple of months, the Working Group met regularly and sought advice from experts in this field, locally, nationally and across various industries, to understand how best to approach this complex topic. Advice from these conversations defined that an effective process involves (1) assessment and acknowledgement, (2) action, and (3) accountability and that, to ensure that changes are impactful and long-lasting, the process should be conducted carefully and intentionally.
To begin this process, the Senior Leadership Team, plus Keven Fletcher, participated in a 5-hour workshop on anti-racism awareness and to reflect on practices of equity, diversity, and inclusion with Dr. Moussa Magassa, a respected UVic professor and expert in the field.
Dr. Magassa has said, “I am really delighted to support SMUS’s commitment to embed equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in their work and I am honored to walk this path with all SMUS communities and stakeholders. Embedding EDI is not an easy undertaking, as it asks for courage, sincerity, openness to learn and self-reflection, but so far, I have witnessed SMUS already implementing all of the preliminary steps for a successful EDI plan.”
The school has been recommended to create a Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee that represents a broad group of stakeholders. To this end, we called for and received nominations from our community for inclusion on the committee.
By compiling the experiences, perspectives, and knowledge from SMUS’s stakeholders, the ultimate work of the EDI Advisory Committee will be to develop and share with the community a Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan addressing all aspects of the school. This plan will be presented to the Board of Governors at their autumn retreat. In the meantime, ongoing communications and engagement opportunities will drive this important work for SMUS to continue to live up to our Value of respect. With the support of the SMUS community, this process and final plan will set the school up well for a future where our students and staff are equipped with the skills, knowledge and habits of mind to continue to be positive contributors and are ready to thrive in their community, within and beyond the school campus.