L’École catholique’s primary responsibility is, of course, education! But the well-being of its students is an essential factor in their success and development. This is why all francophone Catholic schools in Ontario offer numerous activities and services throughout the year to support and inform students and raise their awareness of a host of important subjects. Diversity, welcome and inclusion form part of the services and programs that hold an important place in our schools.
Several initiatives have taken firm root in all our school boards for many years, such as voluntary, confidential self-identification of Aboriginal students and staff members. This initiative helps determine the best choice of resources, programs and support to promote and ensure the continuity of the cultures, traditions and outlooks of First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples in our schools.
Here are examples of other initiatives taken by L’École catholique to promote diversity, welcome and inclusion:
Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE)
The CECCE has held an Inclusion Summit for a number of years. Formerly, the event was held in person, but because of restrictive measures introduced over the past two years, the CECCE has opted for a virtual format. This new formula has allowed a greater number of people to participate. Last year, the event featured well-known speakers such as Gregory Charles and Woody Belfort. Workshops organized by the Inclusion Summit deal with a wide variety of subjects – for example, First Nations, disability, immigration, gender and LGBTQ2+ rights. In addition to the annual summit, in January 2022 the CECCE launched awards to honour leaders and allies in inclusion (French only).
Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien (CSDCEO)
The CSDCEO gives students an opportunity to hone their sense of ethics and other qualities through a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in non-profit services. The SHSM focuses primarily on developing skills in the fields of problem-solving, communication, collaboration, ethical values, and citizenship. This learning program helps 11th and 12th grade students acquire knowledge and key skills that prove very valuable in the fields of community service and international development.
Incidentally, the CSDCEO includes two schools in Hawkesbury, one of Canada’s 14 Welcoming Francophone Communities. Consequently, a miniseries entitled Un pont vers demain (French only) has been produced in partnership with the CSDCEO to present a variety of welcome, diversity and inclusion activities related to francophonie, Catholicism, Aboriginal communities, etc.
Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores Boréales (CSDCAB)
In June 2019, the CSDCAB flew the 2SLGBTQI+ rainbow pride flag for the first time in front of its head office. This took place during the Thunder Pride Festival. Through this initiative, the CSDCAB wished to make a clear statement that diversity, inclusion, and love are celebrated in its schools regardless of skin colour, belief, sexual orientation, and gender identity. A Radio-Canada news story (in French) describes the flag-raising ceremony.
In 2022, all CSDCAB schools will fly the flag and students will take part in workshops to raise awareness of 2SLGBTQI+ issues. The CSDCAB wishes to maintain a safe, inclusive environment for all students and staff. The hope and ultimate goal of members is to provide an environment in which every person can feel valued, included, respected, dignified and appreciated.
Conseil scolaire catholique Providence (Csc Providence)
Some years ago, the Csc Providence created the position of Human Rights and Equity Advisor. This new position was aimed at providing a school environment and a working community that fosters equity, inclusion, diversity, and the fulfilment of students and members of the school community. The current holder, Mélissa Jean-Baptiste Vajda, has introduced new practices for internal investigations, the handling of complaints and communications. Among the many initiatives that have been implemented since 2021 are a new training plan for members of staff and an independent, adapted procedure for handling complaints of racism and discrimination. All these measures respect the rights and values of French-language Catholic schools. To find out more about all the equity initiatives introduced by the Csc Providence, please read its Plan d’équité et d’éducation inclusive
Conseil scolaire catholique de district des Grandes-Rivières (CSCDGR)
The CSCDGR takes welcome and diversity to heart, and is notable for its involvement with Aboriginal communities. For over a year now, the CSCDGR has used its Facebook page to announce a variety of rewarding activities and dynamic events aimed at promoting, understanding and discovering First Nation, Métis and Inuit culture, traditions and contributions. The CSCDGR also launched the Mamo project, a reconciliation initiative for the Town of Hearst and Constance Lake First Nation community. Through creation activities and opportunities for positive interaction and socialization centred on Aboriginal issues, together students can overcome all challenges while forging new friendships. Recently, the CSCDGR joined with Parents Partenaires en éducation for a provincial forum on inclusion for First Nation, Métis and Inuit families held on March 10, 2022: Thé et Conversation : l’inclusion des familles Premières Nations, Métis et Inuits.
Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon (CSC Nouvelon)
The CSC Nouvelon, with financial support from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and in partnership with other organizations, including the Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury and Le Carrefour francophone, offers a welcome and integration service to Greater Sudbury area students and their families who have recently arrived in Canada. This program enables students to familiarize themselves with their new environment and integrate into Canadian society. In addition, the CSC Nouvelon offers the Programme d’appui aux nouveaux arrivants (PANA) to help students fill gaps in their oral communication, reading and writing skills if needed. This can prove a key factor in their academic success, personal fulfilment, and social, educational and community integration. In addition, like the CSDCEO, the Csc Nouvelon is located in one of Canada’s 14 Welcoming Francophone Communities.
Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir (Csc MonAvenir)
Noémi Parenteau-Comfort and Billy Boulet, two artists working within Csc MonAvenir, were inspired by Pope Francis’ teachings on fraternity and our common home to compose TERRE NOUVELLE. This is a song that reflects Csc MonAvenir’s pastoral care theme and the theme of 2022’s Catholic Education Week, Rebâtir, rétablir, renouveler ensemble. The project brings students from the Toronto Programme spécialisé en arts at l’École secondaire catholique Saint-Frère-André into contact with Michel Payment and Isabelle Garceau, professional artists who have each been working for many years in educating and passing on Aboriginal knowledge to younger generations. The song is a cry to take care of the planet and restore healthy connections with all of creation, assuming our shared humanity in a spirit of equity and inclusion.
There are two components to the project: the official video clip (French only) and participation in a talking circle (French only) in which artists, students and professionals take time to discuss the importance of reconciliation in the contemporary world. The launch was held on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of the Americas, and the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, December 12, 2021. These resources have been used regularly since then.
Conseil scolaire catholique Franco-Nord
The CSCFN is noted for the relationships it establishes with its community partners and parishes, enabling it to offer a complete range of innovative programs and services (French only) suited to the unique profile of every student and the diversity of families. Because children are always its primary concern, the CSCFN provides personalized services for students with special needs, and support and resources aimed at promoting mental health awareness, prevention and intervention. They do so with a cultural approach designed to keep the flame of language, faith and culture alive in students. The CSCFN is proud to offer all its students an Aboriginal education and to integrate elements of First Nation, Métis and Inuit culture into their educational and cultural activities. Members of the school community are committed to helping students find their way through learning by experience, virtual learning, the arts, sports, community services, leadership and personal development, fostering the values of diversity and inclusion, so that these students can actively contribute as responsible, committed citizens of the society to which they belong. CSCFN schools are welcoming, inclusive environments where students feel good!
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