Territorial education leaders last week expressed solidarity with current social movements confronting racism against Black and Indigenous peoples, and urged NWT students to reject all forms of racism and intolerance.

During their regular bi weekly teleconference with Education, Culture and Employment Minister R.J. Simpson on Tuesday, NWT education leaders expressed a strong sense of responsibility to publicly support the peaceful protests of the Black Lives Matter movement that have been taking place globally following the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis on May 25th.

Simpson notes that education plays a critical role in addressing legacies of racism and other forms of discrimination in our society.

“I stand beside NWT education leaders in supporting Black Lives Matter and other anti-racist movements, and urge our students to collectively confront racism in their classrooms, communities and country.”

Education leaders also took the opportunity Tuesday to emphasize the need to continue fighting for an end to systemic racism targeting Indigenous peoples. Recent examples of this intolerable racism, education leaders said, are the death of 26-year-old Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman, by police during a wellness check June 4th in New Brunswick, and the violent arrest March 10th of Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam in northern Alberta for expired vehicle license plates.

Tina Drew, Chair of Yellowknife Education District No.1, on behalf of all NWT education leaders states that systemic racism marginalizes countless groups across our global society and leads to inequities that must be eradicated.

“As education leaders, we have a responsibility to affirm and show solidarity with movements for equality and social justice, internationally, nationally and locally.”

Education leaders noted many NWT students have been significantly impacted by recent events and demonstrations related to racism. They encourage students to think deeply about how they can positively effect change in the fight against all forms of racism and intolerance, including ethnic, religious, and sexuality or gender-based discrimination. They acknowledged that schools have an important role in educating and empowering students to reject all forms of racism and intolerance.

ECE and education bodies continue to focus on development of new curricula and ways of incorporating current affairs to ensure historical injustices related to racism and colonialism are actively addressed in student and teacher learning.