Belonging and Well-Being at the OCSB

This article was written in collaboration with Dr. Prince Ehoro OCSB Equity Advisor and Jolly-Béatrice Toussaint OCSB Equity Coordinator.

As spring has fully set in, we understand the importance of reconnecting in our neighbourhoods and re-emerging outdoors with others with the beautiful weather. We also recognize the importance of creating cultural safety for our students in our communities. Inclusion and equity are of great importance to us all and how we all respectfully relate together. We are all aware that we live in a society of structures based on power and privilege, and we must recognize these impacts. Cultural safety means acknowledging that we are part of these systems and must engage in critical self-reflection to learn how our social, cultural and political location impacts interactions in the schools. This is especially important when considering the Well- Being of students, parents/guardians and staff in our OCSB community.

When thinking about how Well-Being and Equity (Belonging) are interconnected, it is important to recognize how we all promote this. Additionally, the role involves strengthening the relationship between students and the school community. We can support this by;

A) Build trust and create a sense of belonging by acknowledging the importance of lived (racial) experiences while being identity-affirming, transparent, compassionate and curious. 

B) Supporting healthy integration by allowing students to build a strong sense of self by being grounded in their cultural roots while learning to take on new/mainstream ideologies from their perspective. 

C) Creating spaces where students can express their full selves without compromising their cultural values to feel like they belong.

How can we make a difference in the well-being of our students while employing a culturally sensitive lens?

  • Create a welcoming and culturally-safe environment for all students and staff to feel safe.
    • Identify the power dynamics that contribute to the interactions with students, parents and staff. 
    • Have an Asset-Based Approach: Students’ diversity adds to the classroom culture and is to be enhanced and valued. 
    • Incorporate culturally relevant pedagogy to validate students’ cultural identities and increase student engagement.
  • Strengthen the relationship of the students within their school community.
    • Build trust, a sense of belonging and inclusivity.
    • Healthy integration to promote student engagement. 
    • Partner with families to better understand and support students’ cultural backgrounds. 
    • Engage community resources to provide additional support for students.

Remembering that we can all be supportive and integrative together in our community permits an openness to diversity and a mentally healthy flourishment in our community.

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