Celebrating Diversity and Creating a Culture of Respect

Category: District

This article by SDSS students Tamari Jacobs, Elli Thompson, Sophie Lee, Sameer Jaffer and Samuel Weir originally appeared in the Delta Optimist on February 22, 2023.

Local students are making concerted efforts to celebrate diversity at their school. Both the Anti-Racism and Truth and Reconcili-Action teams at South Delta Secondary School (SDSS) are working to cultivate a school community that respects and appreciates those around them.

“At SDSS we believe that diversity is part of our strength and that it’s very important to acknowledge and celebrate what makes us different and unique, and that’s exactly why we started our Anti-Racism team,” said Samuel Weir, Grade 12. “For the last three years, students of all backgrounds and ethnicities have been involved in the Anti-Racism team. They meet a few times a month and are guided by teachers who are on the school’s Anti-Racism Committee,” said Tamari Jacobs, Grade 10.

“It was October of 2021 when the student-led Anti-Racism team created the influential SDSS Against Racism t-shirts,” said Elli Thompson, Grade 12.  The t-shirt design involved a lengthy process, with an SDSS student developing and drawing the final image. Every Friday in February the school’s staff and students are encouraged to wear their AR shirts or any black shirt to support Anti-Racism. “We have sold over 250 shirts school-wide to date – that’s almost a quarter of the students at the school!” noted Tamari. “Every time I see a kid wearing one of the t-shirts it makes me very happy to see the students supporting the initiative,” added Sameer Jaffer, Grade 12.

Last year, four SDSS students, Tyson, Sameer, Keagan and Tamari, were involved in the creation and filming of a school district Anti-Racism video.  The video has been shown far and wide, including with students and staff across the school district, the City of Delta and the Ministry of Education and Childcare. It focuses on how students in the district were feeling about racism and shares their experiences. “I was able to really express myself in this project,” said Tamari. “As a half black male growing up in Delta, I have experienced many racist situations in and out of school. I am passionate about making a difference and being a part of changing this culture in our community.”

“The team has put on numerous events to fight racism in the school community and celebrate diversity,” said Sophie Lee, Grade 11. “The Anti-Racism team has been a big success. We as a group have organized many events and held many meetings. One of our driving factors is student representation in which we were able to have many students participate in our events,” added Sameer.

In addition, the recently-launched SDSS Reconcili-ACTION team, which involves students from the new BC First Peoples Class, focuses on issues specific to Indigenous Peoples of Canada. The Reconcili-Action team works with district Indigenous education workers to share Indigenous cultures and learning with students, and to raise money to support Indigenous causes. For example, in November 2022, the Wave Warrior Journey Canoe was brought to the school to teach the importance of the canoe in Coast Salish culture.

During the second semester of the school year, a number of students from the two teams will be visiting English Bluff Elementary School to share what they have been doing at SDSS to combat racism, celebrate diversity and make the school a safe and welcoming place for all students. In addition, going forward, they will be meeting collaboratively with North Delta Secondary School’s Anti-Racism team to share ideas and initiatives.

“We hope our efforts inspire people to be respectful to one another no matter what they may look like or what colour they may be,” said Samuel Weir.