I would first like to state that my stance on this issue has not changed since we first passed the motion back in March of 2017. As all of you can recall, a motion in the name of equity, certainty and anti-oppression was presented, and a vote was originally cast by this board that would effectively disallow all students from travelling to the United States to compete in any previously-scheduled competitions.
The same would apply to staff wishing to go to the U.S. for purposes of professional development to do so.
For a number of reasons, including the continued rise in hostility towards racial and religious minorities within and outside of the United States, I cannot in good conscience alter or reverse my original decision on this matter in any way. Neither should you.
The spirit of the motion was to show solidarity; both with our staff and students at home, and with those overseas and around the world who have been prevented from entering the United States because of new travel restrictions implemented by the Trump administration. Therefore, I am advocating that the original motion put forth by this Board remain in place and fully supported by all of my fellow Trustees as we continue to closely monitor this ever-changing situation.
It goes without saying that we live in uncertain times. An unstable government, frequently subject to flippancy and the erratic decision-making process of its leadership, has become the new normal. It is in response to these unstable forces that we must exercise caution, preparedness and vigilance, especially when it comes to the safety of our children and our staff.
That safety is essential.
Some argue that this original motion is unfair. While I recognize this, I am guided by the belief that safety should never be sacrificed for the sake of fairness. Solidarity with our students and staff is something that takes equal precedent; far above the privilege of those of us wishing to attend our respective, priorly-scheduled events. Let us put privilege aside so that the certainty of risk and the potential for harm take a backseat to the safety and sense of unity we hold most dear.
Furthermore, we cannot and should not allow our students and staff to be exposed to potential discrimination, whether by a government or its people. Being Canada’s largest and most diverse school board, we have a responsibility to make a strong and powerful statement on discrimination. Our Board is and always has been guided by the principles of equity, fairness and anti-oppression for all. Let this motion stand as the utmost representation of these principles.
Needless to say, such discrimination does not align with our government, our personal values, or our principles as citizens of a multicultural country within a multi-faced world. Harmony cannot co-exist when exclusion and intolerance are allowed to prevail.
Although we cannot amend a foreign government’s principles, we can oppose them; and in so doing send a message to those at home and abroad that we stand in complete and total solidarity with individuals who continue to be affected by this current administration’s ill-conceived, unfair immigration and travel policies.
I hope that you will all join me in supporting the initial motion that was passed on March 22nd, 2017, and in turn stand with the thousands of students and members of staff against whom this ban most strongly discriminates.