Coalition calling on province to hire hundreds more Indigenous teachers in Winnipeg

Winnipeg –

A newly formed coalition of Indigenous, newcomer, racialized and community-based groups is calling on the province to hire hundreds more Indigenous teachers in Winnipeg.

The group called Equity Matters said the move, along with a number of other calls to action, is necessary in order to be more representative of the communities teachers serve.

The group launched a campaign Friday for a new approach to improve educational outcomes for all students. Organizers want the province to create a provincial education equity secretariat and education equity offices within local school districts.

The goal of these new positions is to help Indigenous, newcomer and racialized students see themselves better reflected in the curriculum and in staffing.

Specifically, the group is calling for 600 more Indigenous teachers to be brought into the Winnipeg school system.

“We’re coming out of COVID. We’ve had significant issues happening in the community. You’re seeing graduation rates are lower than they’ve been in the past. They are increasing, but I think there’s a real opportunity to create a village that’s going to support our children,” said Equity Matters Co-Chair Crystal Laborero.

The coalition said motions to endorse the Equity Matters campaign have been passed by the Louis Riel, St. James-Assiniboia and Winnipeg school divisions’ boards of trustees. The Manitoba Association of School Superintendents and the Manitoba Association of Parent Councils have also given the campaign their seals of approval, Equity Matters said.

“Equity is an issue that affects the entire community and indeed our entire population,” said Jordan Bighorn, a parent representative of Equity Matters.

“It’s a question of representation, of inclusion, and when decisions are being made for the betterment of our future and indeed our children’s future, the issue that is raised today and shared through this campaign are things that I think our society can no longer accept for these things not to be in place.”

The group said in the coming months, it will be hosting webinars and town hall meetings, as well as meetings with school boards and the provincial government to promote awareness of its calls to action.

It is calling on the provincial government to establish these equity officers and an education equity secretariat by the 2022/23 school year.

In a statement to CTV News Winnipeg, a spokesperson for Manitoba Education said government has already met with the coalition.

“Discussions have included the concept of a provincial education equity office and their plans for a virtual community gathering later this month,” the statement said.

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