With mass attention being brought to police brutality, and racial profiling in the weeks after the death of George Floyd, Canadians too reacting to the situation and calling for change, including in public schools.
The Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association is reviewing police presence inside schools and recommending that police no longer attend school events. VESTA put out a statement, declaring “that no VPD or RCMP officers be invited to school events and that members no longer plan or attend events where VPD or RCMP officers are invited, until both organizations take clear steps to address the disproportionate repression of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.”
This motion was brought up after elementary school teachers voted that they didn’t police to be present at school events, due to certain groups of people having anxiety or fear around law enforcement at their school — a place they go to, to learn and feel safe. This will make it so police are not invited and greatly discouraged from attending future school functions, for the extent of this motion. Despite the Vancouver Police Department being restrained from expressing their opinions on the vote, they have said that they try their best to be involved with all students and put in effort to make schools as safe as possible.
With talks of the motion being put in place, VESTA president, Jill Barclay also expressed that the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association “acknowledges that this racism isn’t new, but recent events have highlighted the inequity faced by Black, Indigenous people and people of colour (BIPOC) and the need for local and global solidarity with those impacted most by inequities in the policing, education, judicial and medical system.”
Co-founder of the African Descent Society BC, Yasin Kiraga stated that often when Black students have problems within schools, it’s often due to the feeling of being left out, singled out, or bullied because of the colour of their skin. With the burden of fear that people of colour have been struck with ever since law enforcement’s involvement in George Floyd’s death, Kiraga tells that it’s a sensitive time for Black students.
The Vancouver School Board is aware of the motion by VESTA, and has said that three trustees are preparing a plan that will take all of this into account and investigate the presence of law enforcement in Vancouver schools. This plan will be brought up at their next board meeting being held next Monday on the 21st.