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Letter: Not enough voices heard in New West school liaison officer decision

Writer says other people ignored
Local students participated with New Westminster police officers and auxiliary officers in a Cooking with Cops program in 2018.


An open letter to New Westminster school board chair Gurveen Dhaliwal:

I write in response to your April 28 letter advising students and parents of the board's decision to discontinue the school liaison officer program.

This is not a "sour grapes" letter of complaint because I did not get my way; the elected board made its decision and I respect its mandate to do so. My concerns arise from the tone of your letter.

You write that with this decision, the board is proud to "centre the voices of BIPOC community members." This improperly frames people of colour as a monolithic group who all oppose the liaison program, rather than a group of diverse human beings with a variety of perspectives on this and other issues. In addition, the board was elected to govern for all citizens, not to "centre" the perspective of any one constituency - let alone one defined by ethnicity.

The decision, you further write, is a "step forward for people who have often felt like their voices, and physical and emotional needs [,] don't matter. We thank everyone who shared their thoughts and experiences, especially those of you who pushed and asked for this, whether that came as someone personally impacted or as an ally."

As you surely recognize, decisions such as this impact everyone in the school community and referring to those who are not people of colour as "allies," rather than fellow community members, divides rather than unites us. Further, I am frankly astounded that an elected official would state that input from citizens who supported the board's ultimate decision is more valued than that from citizens who argued the other side. 

It is not in the least clear that you feel their voices matter.

Greg DePaco, New Westminster