TLDSB student reps launch anti-racism initiative

By Jenn Watt

Student leaders within the Trillium Lakelands District School Board are looking for action on racism and discrimination against all members of the school community and have asked for anyone with stories about their experiences to share them. Since Sept. 4, 22 stories have been shared, said student trustee Ryder Lytle, with contributions ranging from one sentence to a couple of paragraphs.

Ryder shared an update about the project with trustees at their meeting on Sept. 22.

“Over the last few weeks, [student trustee] Kaylee [Kelly] and I have been collecting stories and experiences from students and staff to better understand what is going on in our schools,” Ryder’s prepared statement for the board reads. “We plan to use these stories to create ways we can combat racism in TLDSB schools and other buildings to create a safe and welcoming environment for all TLDSB members.”

Kaylee and Ryder are each student trustees serving two-year terms on the board. They are each members of the G7 student senate, which includes a representative from each of the board’s high schools.

Ryder said that the G7 would be making a plan based on the stories they’ve gathered on how changes can be made at all levels of the board.

“Kaylee and I especially feel there is absolutely zero tolerance of racism, discrimination, or bias in any TLDSB schools or buildings,” Ryder’s statement reads. “It is something that needs to be talked about and not just shoved under the rug. Racism is a very real thing in every single one of our schools and buildings and it should not be at all. We know it is a real thing in our schools because Kaylee and I have experienced racism first-hand being visible minority students.”

The stories of racism experienced by members of the school community will also be brought to the board and committees, Ryder said.

They are still collecting stories and Ryder has included a link on his Instagram bio @ryderlytle connecting to the anonymous Google form.

The form reads, in part: “Motion To Be Brought Forward: As students of TLDSB we have recognized that Trillium Lakelands DSB needs to make systemic changes, to ensure that all staff and students feel that they are in a safe learning environment. This form is here for students and staff to fill out detailing any incidents where they have witnessed or experienced any type of racism, discrimination, or segregation on a Trillium Lakelands DSB premises.”