Chair’s MessageSeptember 12, 2023
Message from the Board of Trustees on Safe and Inclusive Schools
June 19, 2023
In 2016, the Winnipeg School Division (WSD) Board of Trustees led school boards in Manitoba by adopting a policy ensuring safe and inclusive schools for everyone. For the past seven years, Policy IGAAB Safe and Caring – Trans and Gender Diverse Students and Staff, has provided crucial and compassionate guidance throughout WSD.
In light of recent and ongoing activities both in Manitoba and across the country, the Winnipeg School Division Board of Trustees stands in unity with our colleagues at Louis Riel School Division, Brandon School Division and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, among others, against hate and discrimination.
Schools must be safe, equitable and inclusive communities of learning.
Message from the Board of Trustees on book bans
May 22, 2023
The Board of Trustees acknowledges receipt of public emails expressing concerns regarding the proposed book bans in the Brandon School Division (BSD) (note, BSD Trustees rejected the proposal on May 23). The WSD Board of Trustees appreciates the commitment to ensuring a safe, equitable, and inclusive educational environment for all students.
At this time, the matter of proposed book bans has not been discussed by the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees appreciates the proactive approach in expressing support for maintaining the 2SLGBTQ+ and gender-affirming books in school libraries.
In alignment with WSD Policy IGABB-Safe and Caring-Trans and Gender Diverse Students and Staff, it is imperative that students have access to diverse and inclusive resources, particularly those that serve the needs of 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Recognizing the importance of gender-affirming content, the Board of Trustees understands that it plays a crucial role in the well-being and development of these students, who often face isolation, lack of support, and limited representation in traditional educational settings and curricula.
Message from the Chair (2022/2023 school year)
I’m pleased to acknowledge that Winnipeg School Division and its 79 schools are located on, Treaty One Territory and traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the Homeland of the Red River Métis.
In October of 2022, Winnipeg School Division’s Board of Trustees welcomed seven newly elected Trustees. Joining myself (ward 8) and Vice Chair Jamie Dumont (ward 1) are: Lois Brothers (ward 2); Kathy Heppner (ward 3); Rebecca Chambers (ward 4); Dante Aviso (ward 5); Perla Javate (ward 6); Tamara Kuly (ward 7); and Ann Evangelista (ward 9).
The Board of Trustees would also like to extend its very best wishes to Pauline Clarke on her retirement from the division. Ms. Clarke led the division as Chief Superintendent and CEO since 2008 and lent her voice in response to the provincial education review, the provincial Poverty and Education Task Force and identifying actions to remove barriers to participation and engagement in learning.
Starting in the new school year 2023/2024, the Board is pleased to welcome Matt Henderson to the role of Chief Superintendent and CEO. Mr. Henderson served as an assistant superintendent for Seven Oaks School Division and has taught Grades 5 to 12. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Manitoba and is passionate about creating schools fully committed to powerful relationships, deep relevance and intellectual rigour.
Mr. Henderson will join the Board in renewing the WSD Strategic Plan this fall. A key aspect of the strategic planning work includes engaging WSD youth, caregivers and community partners to help provide insight and opportunity for the plan.
Several new and revised policies were brought to the Board of Trustees for approval during the 2022/2023 year. These included a new Accessibility Policy which formalizes WSD’s commitment to providing equal access and participation for all people. Two revised policies include the WSD Suspension of Students Policy, updated to add restorative justice practices that engage students in school as an alternative to suspension. The second, the WSD Employment Equity Policy, was revised to bring it into accordance with the Canadian Employment Equity Act, as well as updating terminology and definitions.
Our board also completed an Employment Equity Audit for the division, which has resulted in 82 recommendations, 58 of which have been identified and action taken. We recognize there is work to be done around employment equity, its part in our journey of reconciliation, and the audit results will help guide us to make further improvements.
The Board of Trustees announced plans at the beginning of the year to pilot a Filipino bilingual language program at Meadows West School, open to students across the division interested in learning an additional language. The first Kindergarten and Grade 1 students in the program will start the program in September 2023, with expectation that the program will grow each year with more registrants.
Looking forward, WSD has received design approval from the province to proceed with plans for a new high school. The addition of a new French immersion high school in the northwest section of the division has been highly anticipated because of large population growth in that area. We look forward to engaging the community on the plans for the school site in coming months. Other building projects planned within the division are described further in this report.
In closing, the WSD Board of Trustees thanks the many organizations who partner with the school division year after year to support student growth and achievement. We also acknowledge the outstanding commitment and dedication of employees across the division who are contributing to our students’ continuous improvement results.
Chair, Board of Trustees 2022/2023
Winnipeg School Division