Heather Sinding, Whittney Ambeault and Dominique Jacobs wrote a letter calling on SD62 to implement anti-racism bias training and teach Black history year-round with appropriate materials. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

Heather Sinding, Whittney Ambeault and Dominique Jacobs wrote a letter calling on SD62 to implement anti-racism bias training and teach Black history year-round with appropriate materials. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

West Shore moms press for anti-racism bias training in schools

Comments on story of complaint against Sooke School District teacher shock parents

A group of parents is flagging concerns about racism in the community, in the aftermath of a complaint being filed against a Sooke School District teacher for reading a racist word aloud from a book during class.

Dominique Jacobs said she’s worried for her daughter and other Black children like her, after seeing parents and teachers who identified themselves as working in and having kids at SD62 schools, rush to defend the teacher on social media.

“I was one of the only Black kids in my school growing up, I grew up in Vancouver and I was racist bullied all the time. Racist bullying is literally my worst fear for my child,” she said at West Shore Parks and Recreation on Monday (March 21), the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Jacobs co-wrote a letter with two other mothers, Whittney Ambeault and Heather Sinding, voicing concerns about comments responding to an article about the SD62 complaint, on the Goldstream Gazette Facebook page. Many defended the actions of the teacher, which prompted the trio to call for anti-racism bias training in schools.

“I was met with all kinds of abusive rhetoric, and also laugh emojis. So I’m literally pouring out my soul to these people and saying, ‘look, I was persecuted and my family, because we are ‘n-words’, had to leave our home country, and flee for safety to arrive here. We lost everything because we’re ‘n-words’. This is not just a word. This isn’t even a historical word. This word is still used today to very much persecute and harm and traumatize Black people,” Jacobs said.

ALSO READ: Complaint filed against Sooke School District teacher for reading ‘derogatory word’ aloud

Jacobs was born in South Africa, where her dad worked for the African National Congress, a political party that fought against apartheid, alongside Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. When he was threatened with imprisonment for his work, he took his wife and two daughters (one of whom was Jacobs) and fled to the U.S. before immigrating to Canada.

“My parents left their jobs, they both had really good jobs. So coming here as an immigrant, and having nothing and starting from scratch – that’s because we were ‘n-words’. That’s what that means to me, and my family.”

The letter not only calls for anti-racism bias training in schools, it says Black history should be taught throughout the school district using materials written and created by Black authors, and that parents need to take efforts to learn as well.

“I participate in other parent groups on social media, and how quickly a white parent might report that their white child is being bullied, and how quickly this group of parents rally around that person and say, ‘Go to the school board, go to the superintendent.’ And in this case, it was the exact opposite,” Sinding said.

In a previous statement to Black Press Media, SD62 said it takes all complaints seriously and encourages all students and staff to speak out if they feel their school environment is not inclusive, and that any form of discrimination has no place in the district or the community.

A plan was created by an associate superintendent to address the incident within the classroom, and to focus on how to “unlearn unconscious bias and discrimination in our schools.”

“The district is committed to this approach by getting the rollout of this plan right by the teacher, the school and the district. This roll out coincides with our strategic plan, which values the importance of diversity and inclusion in our schools and communities,” the statement read.


@moreton_bailey
bailey.moreton@goldstreamgazette.com

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