School District 91’s (SD 91) honouring diversity speaker series featured Dr. Dustin Louie, a former Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS) graduate.
Last week, on April 13, the school district had invited Louie to be one of the speakers in their honouring diversity speaker series. Louie, who was a former LDSS student, is a First Nations scholar from Nee Tahi Buhn and Nadleh Whut’en of the Carrier Nation of central B.C. and is a member of Beaver clan. He studied Canadian history, did a Master’s in International Relations, and got a PhD in Educational Research.
Louie said he felt connected to all the First Nations in the school district as he had several family members in the different nations, had connections from when he was growing up and can closely relate to everyone. He is now a professor at University of Calgary and specializes in teaching courses related to Indigenous Education, social justice as well as educational philosophy.
“With my work, my intention is never to be confrontational with you but to be supportive and collaborative for ways in which we can bring about changes,” he said.
Louie acknowledged that honouring diversity was a difficult topic and challenges could arise from misunderstandings on what diversity is actually is and how to actually do it. He also pointed out that diversity is not about discriminating against or disparaging against white male, straight, able-bodied people, nor is it an attack on people or aspects of the society that are privileged. He also discussed how there is resistance to recognizing the ways in which we unconsciously carry oppressive or anti-diversity perspectives. He also discussed how to actually go beyond acknowledging the importance of diversity and take action.
The hour-long discussion also included a panel discussion and a Q&A with Louie. The entire series can be accessed online by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to get the link and a password to access the video.
In 2018-2019, the school district was one of the 16 districts province-wide to participate in an Equity Scan process to engage students, parents, educators and communities to examine structures, policies, and processes specific to improving educational outcomes for Indigenous students. An outcome of this Equity Scan process was SD 91’s implementation of an Honouring Diversity module, approximately 30 hours, that would be offered to all grade 8 students across the district in the 2020-2021 school year.
According to the school district, “In order to have the community join us on our diversity journey, we have organized a speaker series that is designed to introduce our community to the various topics being explored in the district and in this course.”