Home Grad shools African-descent committee ends contact with Vancouver Police Board – BC

African-descent committee ends contact with Vancouver Police Board – BC

African-descent committee ends contact with Vancouver Police Board – BC


A committee formed through community consultation at the request of the Vancouver Police Board has ended its contact with the city’s police board.

The African Descent Advisory Committee, which was formed in 2021, decided the time has come to break away.

The committee consisted of eight African-descent community leaders, along with Vancouver police officials.

The African-descent committee’s co-chair Sadie Kuehn said it has been a culmination of issues for the committee but the breaking point was the repeated feeling that they were not being listened to.

“(The Vancouver Police Board) wasn’t willing to work with us in collaboration to help make things better, not just for members of the African-Canadian community but for the whole community,” she told Global News.

“The dismissiveness and the disrespect of people who were willing to give their time and energy … the board and senior members of the force (were) not taking advantage of the commitment of the people around the table.”

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The revitalization of the department’s school officer liaison program for Vancouver schools back in September was also a critical moment for the committee — a program they did not believe in.

The committee was vocal at the beginning of the school year saying the liaison program could potentially be harmful to Black, Indigenous, racialized, queer and disabled students.

In June, a member of the Vancouver Police Board stepped down over the decision to bring the officer liaison program back, claiming it flew in the face of board commitments to anti-racism and decolonization and was made through a tainted consultation process.

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“Here we are, two years later, and we’ve stifled the debate on this, we’ve lied to the African Descent Advisory Committee — I feel lied to — we didn’t have a vote on this as a policy matter, we didn’t consider what we as a board were going to do if our advisory committee said ‘No,’” Rachel Roy said at the June 15 meeting.

She further claimed the police board has never held a formal vote about bringing police officers back into Vancouver schools.

The original SLO program was axed in 2021, following an independent review by Argyle Communications. It found that while 61 per cent of students surveyed felt officers added a sense of safety to their schools, the number dropped to 47 per cent among Indigenous respondents and 15 per cent among Black respondents.

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In November 2022, B.C.’s human rights commissioner penned a letter to the B.C. School Trustees Association urging an end to SLOs in all schools, “unless and until they can demonstrate an evidence-based need for them that cannot be met through other services.”

In the letter, Kasari Govender cited a lack of research on whether SLO programs make schools safer and a lack of focus on the experience of marginalized students.

She said the Vancouver School Board  did not have sufficient evidence to suggest that “tweaks to the SLO construct will be sufficient to address community concerns of harm and discrimination.”

B.C.’s Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who appoints members to the Vancouver Police Board, said he the committees decision to cease communication is concerning.

“It’s concerning and it’s unfortunate,” Farnworth told Global News. “We want to make sure all communities feel like their concerns are being addressed. There are changes coming to the police act this session that will deal with some of the issues that have been raised and that legislation will be introduced shortly.”

Global News has reached out to the Vancouver Police Board for comment which is headed by Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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