Serena Winterburn is running to become a trustee in the Cowichan Valley school district.
She said she is Nehyew (Cree) from treaty 8 territory in Alberta and has lived in the Cowichan Valley for five years.
Winterburn said that in a recent meeting, she inquired how School District 79 consulted with local families while drawing future projections for the district’s children.
She says the superintendent told her that to consult with the families was to inform them of decisions and plans.
“I think back to what it means to be a voice of the people; what it means to consult the people; what it means to represent the people,” Winterburn said.
“I have a different understanding of what it means to be in consultation with our families.”
Winterburn said she’s running for the school board because as a mother, she understands that the community is a collection of diverse people with diverse backgrounds that have diverse needs.
She said she believes in inclusivity, consideration and preserving the core values of each of the diverse peoples in the community.
“I do not believe that this can be achieved through repeating and perpetuating the sins of the past,” Winterburn said.
“As leaders, we cannot take the needs of one people and impose it upon others. There are ways to have equal opportunity without dismantling children’s sense of identity, culture, tradition, core values, esteem and omnipotence.”
Winterburn said that as the daughter and granddaughter of residential school survivors, she carries the memory within her of what it means to be dismantled in each of these ways by imposed ideologies of others.
“We must learn from what has caused great harm so that we do not inflict this great harm on the next generations,” she said.
“Let us meet the needs of each of our children through consultation with our families on their diverse needs, without imposing our ideologies and the needs of some upon the whole. Let our education systems be focused on actual education with lessons that enhance our children’s practical life skill sets, as well as numeracy and literacy.”