Black Lives Matter signs were shown during the time of silence on Saturday. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press)

Black Lives Matter signs were shown during the time of silence on Saturday. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press)


No new curriculum on anti-racism, Black history planned for upcoming school year in Surrey

Superintendent says discussions, how to implement those teachings are ‘still very much alive’

Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney says that while there are no immediate plans to implement any new anti-racism and Black history education at the start of the upcoming school year, the district is first looking at how it can make that happen in the future.

On Thursday (Aug. 20), the Now-Leader spoke with Tinney about where the district is following allegations in June from a Black teacher in Surrey about the racism he says he’s faced while working here.

“I reached out in the spring to a group around how would we begin this conversation,” said Tinney. “I spoke with Michael (Musherure, the Surrey teacher) directly… we don’t want to impose a model but, at first what we talked about was bringing groups together in the fall to talk about — to just start to talk about — race and racism.”

Tinney said he’s since been in talks with an external group to help facilitate that.

Musherure, now an English teacher at Earl Marriott Secondary, said he decided to speak out after the death of George Floyd, who died while being restrained by police in Minneapolis in May.

READ ALSO: ‘If we are quiet, we aren’t changing the situation,’ Surrey teacher says of racism he’s faced, June 13, 2020

READ ALSO: ‘He is going to change the world’: Hundreds attend funeral held for George Floyd, June 9, 2020

Since then, there have been protests daily throughout the United States in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement and to protest police brutality.

Most recently, protests have turned to focus on Jacob Blake who was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha police in Wisconsin.

READ ALSO: Man shot by police in Wisconsin no longer handcuffed to hospital bed, Aug. 28, 2020

READ ALSO: Father says Black Wisconsin man shot by police is paralyzed; protests break out, Aug. 25, 2020

Tinney added the discussions around Black Lives Matter and racism are “still very much alive,” but the district isn’t at the stage of “designing any explicit curriculum, beyond what we normally do, at this point.”

“I can tell you that my summer reading was a book called, “So You Want to Talk About Race.” It was a fantastic book and that was their (the external group’s) suggestion for my place to start.”

When the Now-Leader first spoke to Tinney about anti-racism education in Surrey, he admitted the district has more work to do despite the “number of resources that deal with racism.”

For instance, schools still use “In the Heat of the Night” by John Ball, which uses the N-word repeatedly.

“Is it something that we should still do?”

Tinney said Surrey does “lots and lots at the district around discrimination, multiculturalism and inclusion,” but the message now needs to be focused on anti-racism.

One way to achieve this in the 2020-21 school year, he said, could be by hosting open forums that “create a safe vessel for people to come and tell their stories,” as suggested through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“What I don’t want to do is say, ‘Gee, this has happened. It’s huge. It’s super important and here’s a three-point action plan to address it.’ It’s way bigger than that.”

READ ALSO: ‘Racism, it destroys your soul’: Surrey man looks to youth for change, June 6, 2020

Tinney said that when these discussion first began in June, he went into the provincial standards for codes of conduct, which every school has.

“The word ‘race’ does not exist in the provincial standards for codes of conduct and neither does the word racism. But discrimination is in there and cyberbullying is in there and bullying and harassment and intimidation…but not racism,” he said.

“Then when you look at our own district policies, we see that we believe our policy is really about safe, caring and inclusive schools, but our own policies don’t explicitly talk about racism.”

Tinney said that’s why it’s “important to take a close look overall, and not just have a quick response.”

“The provincial codes of conduct order references the human rights code. Well, the human rights code in B.C. does not have the word ‘racism’ in it. It talks extensively about discrimination and does say ‘race’ nine times — I can tell you — but it actually doesn’t talk about racism.”

READ ALSO: Teach Black history to fight racism, starting in elementary school: B.C. students, June 10, 2020

In June, B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming said the ministry is examining way to work with local groups to develop a curriculum that better incorporates Black history, including the slave trade and the Underground Railroad.

Yasin Kiraga, executive and artistic director of the African Descent Society British Columbia, said he began discussing the significance of Black history with the Education Ministry in 2016.

Kiraga, who came to Canada as a refugee from Burundi in 2009, has visited schools to teach about the once-thriving Black community in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood.

He said many moved out of the city before the buildings they lived in were demolished in the 1970s to make way for a viaduct to connect the area to downtown.

Kiraga said B.C.’s curriculum should include more than a minimum amount of teaching during Black History Month.

“We can educate Canadians who don’t understand the stories of racism in the past and how it affected the Black community,” said Kiraga, who is working with the Vancouver School Board to develop a course on Black history.

– With files from The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Most Read