February 2016

After the horrific actions of a 14 year old student in pickering, there are many questions being asked about how this could happen and why. As the dust settles and the pieces are starting to be put together we need to work on trying to prevent rather than stop these incidents. The acts of the teachers need to be highlighted and commended. Their actions saved lives and prevented further injury.

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On Monday, February 8th, educators and professionals in the field of education braved the snow and gathered in Winnipeg for a full day, interactive conference on Safe Schools. The Canadian Safe School Network is extremely proud to have hosted The Manitoba Safe Schools Conference: Diversity, Respect and Inclusion. We would like to thank all of those who made the event possible including our planning committee, volunteers, speakers, and of course the delegates who joined us. Such widespread participation reflects Manitoba’s commitment to creating the best, most diverse possible learning communities for our students.

We were truly honoured to have had Hon. James Allum, Minister of Education and Advanced Learning offer inspiring opening remarks. Following the remarks, our keynote speaker, Dr. Jerome Cranston, Executive Director of Student Academic Success and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at University of Manitoba, took the podium and delivered a captivating address on what it means to create and nurture schools that place children’s rights at the centre.

As the day progressed, our delegates attended a variety of workshops all of which focused on recognizing diversity in all its forms and nurturing respect and inclusion of every student. Some of the topics that were addressed included: enhancing learning outcomes for vulnerable student populations, adopting an inclusive and diverse-normative lens, and advocating for non-discriminative human rights. Other workshops included discussions surrounding system-wide approaches to newcomer integration, equitable settlement and community development, and relationship building/character development to ensure safe, healthful schools.

Our second keynote address was given by Scott Heggart, who offered a touching personal account of his journey coming to terms with his sexuality and the impacts that educators had on him. Scott’s insight into the ways we can create a truly inclusive and accepting climate in our classrooms surely resonated with the crowd.

Finally, our student panelists from Maples Collegiate and the Pembina Trails Schools Division impressed us all with their commitments to social justice, community engagement, and global citizenship. Maples Collegiate voices the importance of implementing Aboriginal Student Leadership (ASL), while Pembina Trails described the tremendous impact of The Rights of the Child Project. The discussion was not just informative, but truly inspiring.

We are very pleased to have had such an excellent group of presenters, keynote speakers, and exhibitors. Thank you to everyone who joined us!

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