The District Student Advisory Council (DSAC) can now call themselves filmmakers.
The committee of young leaders from schools across the district combined their efforts to shine a light on racism and bias-based bullying. They created four videos that break these issues down into experiential mini-documentaries.
They were officially unveiled on Wednesday night (March 2, 2022) at a ceremony held at Vanier Hall.
The evening included a big-screen viewing of the videos, an introduction by each of the students involved, and a panel discussion that included Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, School District 57 Superintendent Cindy Heitman, and SD57 Trustee Tim Bennett.
"Biases seep through our pours. It becomes poison to our very nature of being human beings," said Lheidli T'enneh Nation Elder Darlene McIntosh, who opened the event with a prayer and observance. "We need more people to partake, participate and support."
The film series was collectively entitled Raising the B.A.R.: Bystanders Against Racism. Production support was provided by local filmmaker Darrin Rigo.
One of the evening's masters of ceremony, Harsh Dhaliwal, said, during her introduction, "We wanted to impact people through the heart and through storytelling."
Chris Zimmerman, another of the masters of ceremony, explained that the students intended to make only one video, but they came away from the filming process with eight hours of meaningful footage. They wanted to honour and make positive use of all that material, so the scope grew.
The four parts depict personal stories of students and former students who shared their memories and impressions of prejudice and bias, sometimes with disclosures of personal pain, powerlessness and anger at what they had experienced in local schools.
Katie Marren, School District 57's Vice-Principal of Indigenous Education, said the project gave voice where none had been before. She and DSAC teacher Dylan Clifford did their best to enable the students to do this work, but not interfere with the content, since the youth involved had the most important view.
"This movement is powerful. This movement is transformational," Marren said. "This movement encompasses not only the demand for anti-racism work here in SD57 but also the push for creating spaces across all levels where students can be a part of decisions that are made that directly impact classrooms, schools, and the greater community.
"The role of DSAC historically has been to liaise with the board of education on issues that are important to the student body. This group has taken their role of student voice and moved it into student agency. Not only have they practiced and perfected voicing their concerns and opinions, but they have also created, encouraged, and supported change and transformation.
"Sometimes adults forget to include and listen to those that we need to hear from the most, so please be mindful of ways that YOU can include students and youth in making decisions in whatever role that you have. I'm honoured to learn alongside these incredible humans."
Darlene McIntosh considered the moment a challenge for all the adults in the room. "If our young people can face racism, so can we," she said.
All four can be seen at the School District 57 channel on YouTube or click these links:
Part 1: "Stories and Experiences" Stories and Experiences
Part 2: "Impact" Impact
Part 3: "Hope and Allyship" Hope and Allyship
Part 4: "For Educators" For Educators