This month, the Fraser-Cascade School District (SD 78) is taking its motto—Everyone Pulling Together to Improve the Achievement of all Learners—to heart by joining forces with Native Education to invite teachers and parents to its professional development day on Mar. 1, with a keynote address by Ivan Coyote.
“This pro-d day has always been our tradition,” said Dr. Karen Nelson, superintendent of SD 78. “And this year we’re really focusing on inclusion and making sure all students (attend) safe, welcoming, and caring schools … so we’ve invited Ivan Coyote to speak.”
A renowned public speaker and LGBTQ+ advocate, Coyote’s website explains that they identify as non-binary (and prefers to be referred to with plural pronouns) and it’s that personal journey of self-discovery that’s the impetus behind many of the talks they’ve been delivering to public schools for more than 15 years. Coyote’s talks promote communication, safety, and “social justice in our hallways, gymnasiums, and classrooms for everyone: students, teachers, and all staff.”
Born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, Coyote says the remoteness of their hometown helps them understand life in rural communities, but it was their family connections that helped create their life-long love of storytelling.
An award-winning author, Coyote has published nine short story collections, including one especially for young adult readers, a novel, a collection of essays, three screenplays, and three CDs. Their work often exploring difficult social issues such as gender identity and class, which appeals to a younger audience because many have similar issues they may be trying to work through.
At 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, Feb. 28, SD 78, its DPAC, and Native Education are presenting district parents with a free evening session as Ivan Coyote presents their Somewhere Over the Rainbow Sticker talk at Hope Secondary School (HSS).
Written and designed as a more in-depth, nuanced program designed for schools where they have already performed their other show, One In Every Crowd, or schools where GLBTQ issues and politics are already part of the regular curriculum and school culture. Employing their signature humour and compassion, Coyote tackles the very real issues and struggles and triumphs of queer and trans people in today’s complicated world.
Addressing the needs of marginalized youth (helps us) build a better and safer school environment for all of our kids, said Coyote on their website.
And to ensure as many parents or caregivers as possible can attend the event, HSS Leadership students are providing free childcare for children three and older. There’s a limit to the amount of children who can be cared for, and it’s based on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We hope to get as many people as possible,” said Nelson. There are currently 250 people registered for the developmental sessions on Mar. 1
The same group of students will also be offering childcare on the Mar. 1 pro-d day, where parents are also welcome. With energy forums, more than 30 sessions to choose from, transportation from Agassiz to Hope, and refreshments and lunch included with registration, this upcoming “Embracing Our Uniqueness” pro-d day really is for everyone to help benefit all learners within the district.
To register for the free parent evening with Ivan Coyote, or for any of the professional development seminars, please visit www.SD78pro-d.com.