Stakeholders’ voices not being heard by the Board

A writer is disappointed that the Board of Education won't reconsider its decision about the Ashcroft school's name.

Dear Editor,

My thoughts today are on the word “community” and what that implies. On the smallest scale it may refer to family or a block in a neighbourhood. It may refer to a village, town, or city, on a lightly larger scale, and at times we refer to a global community , which implies the entire planet.

When people put aside their differences and unite in a common cause you have a sense of the word community. Such was the case when 648 people quickly joined together asking a small group elected to represent them to simply revisit a decision it had made. It transcended villages, cultural differences, religious differences, sexual differences, age differences, and ethnicity. For a moment in time they put aside all of their differences and came together, uniting for something they believed in.

I am certainly not the most eloquent speaker, but when asked to represent the 648 people who signed, I accepted the challenge, because I truly believed in our cause. Collectively, the hope of the petitioners was that perhaps a decision had been made too hastily, and that it might be resolved through a cooperative effort involving the greater community and those elected to represent them. To date this has not been forthcoming, and the Board of Education of School District No. 74 has adamantly refused to reconsider its position.

I have spoken, or will speak, with each of the stakeholder groups that I am aware of, to be sure that each may have a voice, should they desire to do so. To date I have spoken with our local MLA, had had a phone call from the Minister of Education, and have filed a request with the Ombudsperson for the province of B.C. on behalf of the petitioners. Each has been helpful, providing guidance as to the directions for whatever steps might be taken in an effort to resolve this matter, and I wish to thank them for their direction.

I have asked to speak with three of our four First Nations bands, and the villages of Cache Creek and Spencer Bridge. I will also be including Walhachin, Loon Lake, and the fourth First Nations band. People from each of these areas may have their names on the petition, and may send children to the school in Ashcroft. This is simply an update, in order to apprise those involved in this matter of where we are at this time in the process.

I am deeply saddened by the refusal of the Board of Education to hear the voice of so many stakeholders. I have recently been made aware of a petition by the students at the school in Ashcroft, close to the beginning of the school year, in which they expressed their disagreement with the name chosen.

No matter what the outcome, we are all losers because we were unable to work cooperatively in finding a solution to this problem. I will continue defending our cause until we have exhausted every avenue available to the electorate and students, because I strongly believe in the righteousness of it.

I believe that at some point, the voice of the people will be heard, and our plea for reconsideration in the naming will take place.

Mike Baldwin