Wednesday, July 24, 2024
July 24, 2024

Anti-racism workshop empowers students

By JAQUELINE WIGHTMAN and INARA WALLACE

For STUDENTS FOR RACIAL EQUITY

The Active Witnessing presentation and workshop concluded a gratifying year for the anti-racism group, Students for Racial Equity (SFRE), at Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS).

Angela Ma Brown returned for a third year to educate students on micro-aggressions and how to “pause hurt.” The past positive student response to her workshops prompted the Students for Racial Equity to bring her back for a full day of workshops to strengthen equity and inclusivity throughout the school. 

After attending the workshop, students reflected through a survey that they felt more empowered to act and “stand up for what is right,” as articulated by one Grade 10 student. Participants learned ways to react to racism and other forms of discrimination using the Active Witnessing Triangle, consisting of the victim, offender, co-witnesses and external support members. One Grade 11 student reflected, “I will rely more on basic [phrases] such as ‘What did you mean by that?’ to pause the hurt.”   

Another Grade 11 student shared, “I hope to have more courage to speak up in the moment, as well as focus on calming the situation down.” 

The day also included a presentation to the Grade 7 classes at Salt Spring Elementary, introducing them to Active Witnessing to stop discrimination by speaking up and asking for help.

It is incredibly uplifting to look back and see that the SFRE group really did encourage learning, upstanding and inclusion at GISS this year. In addition to the Active Witnessing workshop, the group hosted a musical three-day event during Black History Month with the Marcus Mosely Trio, which touched hundreds of students and community members. The trio then donated funds, which allowed us to bring Angela Ma Brown back to the school.

Also, during Black History Month, the SFRE group hosted a school-wide, live, online presentation called “P is for Privilege” which every class watched synchronously. This year, more than ever, GISS students showed up for the marginalized communities in many ways: volunteering for bake sales, appreciating and sharing culture through posters, speaking for the IBPOC veterans of the past, and standing with our Indigenous companions during Red Dress Day and Orange Shirt Day.  

Many SFRE group members are 2024 graduates, and we hope the SFRE can continue in the following years. We hope that we have caught the attention of the next brave students to advocate for racial equity at GISS in the future.  

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